What is a Smart City?
Depending on where you ask this question, it could range from aspirational development of civic infrastructure to IoT and IT based solutions for automated monitoring and better resource utilization towards creating a better livable city.
Atsushi Koresawa presented a slide on City Prosperity Initiative at (UN-Habitat) Climate Sustainability Working Group Session 7 – Finding New Solution through Building Smart Cities.
What does data have to do with it?
Information and communication technologies (ICT) can help enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities. From planning for delivery of services to meet requirements to reducing resource consumption, wastage and costs, all this can be done by creating and analyzing relevant data from existing infrastructure. This includes data collected from citizens, devices and other assets that can be processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, crime detection, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services
From the earlier days of paper trail based service delivery, most nations today have computerized these sectors of urban life, either within the public utilities or via private businesses that have bet on further automation and computerization. With digital records, we now have vast amount of data on consumption patterns, demand fluctuations, outages and other aspects of delivering critical civic utility services. These can be used for forecasting, rationalizing and optimizing operations leading to timely planning for infusion of capital investments and operating funds towards capacity augmentation and maintenance of existing infrastructure.
Does this mean a loss of privacy?
With so much data, there is also a need for privacy controls to ensure that personal identifiable information is not stored or accessed without adequate legal sanction. To give an example, from CCTV cameras across the city that monitor people movement to traffic cameras that can track vehicles, it is possible to keep track of individuals and groups using devices and sensors available. It is important that such use of smart city assets have legal sanction and is done with respect to individual expectations and laws of privacy.
Even data stored by utilities and government departments need to implement privacy safeguards to control the access to individual data. From data encryption at rest to implementation of privacy rules based on master data classification, many approaches are available to ensure that individual data is kept safe and accessed only by individuals authorized as per their clearance levels, and as per the needs of their job function.
While computerization has established the digital trail, it requires human intervention in data entry and various decision making stages leading to bottlenecks in service delivery. Adoption of IoT based solutions including relevant sensors, edge computing and fast network communications can lead to instant availability of information regarding critical infrastructure and services. Our case study on IoT gives its benefits and how the cloud and Drootoo can help with solutions involving them.
Integrated Command and Control Centers
From police HQ to medical hospitals, from energy grid control centers to water supply boards, cities employ a variety of command and control centers to keep track of what is going on, and respond to the requirements for civic amenities and services. These usually operate individually, and interact with each other when needed. Bureaucracy of departments and power centers of the government zealously guard their boundaries, and the flow of data and information across entities could be cumbersome in many places.
With smart city implementation of data intensive IoT solutions, sharing data across various departments and control centers could be enabled in real time, enabling the city council and governing bodies to respond quickly to emerging threats and events. BI and analytics based dashboards can give a real time, centralized and integrated view of what is going on, for multi-deparmental and multi-disciplinary responses to evolving situations.
City government and utility departments could currently be in various stages of computerization. If the traditional command and control centers are still using paper trails and have historic data on paper, digitization approaches can be adopted to make relevant information accessible online to authorized users. From using desktops for data entry to use of RFID for automated entry, such disparate adoption of IT driven processes can be rationalized via smart city projects and investment can help get them all on the same levels of system usage. Once that is done, historic analysis of data can help predict trends and plan for many recurring events like rains, festivals, holiday travel, etc.
Does AI play a role in this?
With big data harvested from the thousands to millions of users that cities can boast of, there is potential to use AI to examine the data and find better ways of doing things. The system “learns” what conditions to expect at different times of the day, different days, different seasons and even on certain years. Based on that information, it can evolve its actions to be in sync with the current requirements.
While sensors can find water line bursts, they cannot identify whether a person left a tap open and forgot to close it. AI can help with similar scenarios to track abnormal occurrences, deviation from trends and other such data scenarios so that it can notify the system dashboard of a potential event needing a response. With time, those events get classified as expected, unexpected and whether they need a response, and the next time such an event occurs, the system can decide is someone is to be notified. Thus, with the same or reduced personnel, monitoring and responses to key civic services can be maintained effectively.
What about the people?
With city governance and utilities management and operations becoming “smart”, residences and visitors can be provided relevant information via websites and apps, some even integrated with devices that they use. Even if the city decides not to develop such apps or websites, independent software vendors and system integrators can work with the city to gain access to relevant data via data connectors or web services and build those for end users.
From better daily schedules to vacation planning, to taking precautions against breakouts of colds and other diseases, many benefits are to be gained by people when cities share their data.
Advantage with DROOTOO’s unified cloud platform
Many services are available from multiple cloud vendors in different countries. For requirements in a specific country and city, there could be a need to use different cloud providers. Usage of multiple providers can also help with Disaster Recovery, High Availability of critical resources.
With multiple cloud vendors offering many services, for different purposes, at varied price points, and requiring many setup and configuration steps, it makes sense to use Drootoo Unified Cloud Platform to take away the complexities and allow users to focus on getting their work done.
- Drootoo enables multi-cloud, multi-services, multi-region, distributed setup, provisioning, security and automated deployment of all required computing infrastructure from an easy to use interface where role based security allows everyone from government departments, utility companies and end users/service providers to collaborate together.
- Templates are available for all use cases from computing to storage and virtual machines, enabling rapid deployment of performance optimized and best practices adherent computing infrastructure that has already been setup and configured by experts. Customization of templates is possible and helps departments and vendors to make changes and share that computing environment, for deployment by others.
- Cities can compare services from multiple cloud vendors to select and use suitable ones. From a legal perspective, it is important to adhere to the laws regarding data storage and this is enabled by region based service selections.
Strategic Advantage Through Closer Integration With DROOTOO
Customers are adopting DROOTOO unified cloud platform for distributed cloud operations management from One place with a simple, easy to use interface.
Integrating your IoT and department/vendor systems and solutions with the DROOTOO interface creates an opportunity for integrated cloud and data management with attendant use of AI, BI and predictive analytics to save Time, Money and Effort in delivery of smart city services. Smart City project assets created on Drootoo can be saved and shared with other cities where Drootoo is adopted, again leading to huge savings of Time, Money and Effort.
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