Smart cities – these two words have enthralled and excited entire nations, governments, and businesses like nothing else has of late, and with good reason.
Smart cities – these two words have enthralled and excited entire nations, governments, and businesses like nothing else has of late, and with good reason. With rapid, disruptive innovations in the fields of science and technology having blurred the difference between physical and digital worlds, more and more processes are today operating at the intersection of technology, people, and end-user services. The increasing involvement of technology is also giving urban centres across the world a much-needed makeover, turning them into smart cities that function more efficiently and seamlessly than their less technologically-evolved counterparts.
But as the conversation around smart cities intensifies, especially as the government’s ambitious Smart Cities Mission gathers momentum, there is a growing need to understand what really drives smart cities. Here are four key technologies that form the bedrock of any foundation that a smart city is built on:
** The Internet of Things: Smartphones, personal computers, ACs, fridges, even entire houses – literally everything today is connected to the Internet. Gartner estimates that there are, at present, 8.4 billion interconnected things currently in use, a number which could exceed 20 billion by the end of this decade. Smart cities can leverage the potential that this augmented connectivity provides to eliminate service delivery challenges, streamline utilities and processes, and optimise resource utilisation.
** Control room solutions: Information drives the world today, but one of the biggest challenges is that most of the information pertaining to city-wide operations is often in insular silos. This is antithetical to the very concept of smart cities, which require freer, more seamless flow of information between various stakeholders. Cutting-edge centralised control room solutions can help in streamlining that flow of information and provide all relevant stakeholders with complete visibility of any situation in real-time. For example, in case of a road mishap on a major thoroughfare, operators overseeing the surveillance video feeds can simultaneously route the information to the traffic control department and the emergency paramedic services for quicker response. Commuters on the road can also be informed, along with alternative routes, in order to prevent wide-spread traffic congestion.
** Big data analytics: The proliferation of digital technology and the growing internet penetration means that data generation has increased exponentially in the last decade; research estimates predict that global daily data generation will exceed 44 zettabytes by 2020. This deluge of data provides an unparalleled opportunity for optimising utilities/processes that drive cities, as well as in planning and administration. Big data analytics can help in making sense of this vast data pool in order to identify highly contextual and relevant insights, which can then be used for everything from policy decisions and planning to administration and service delivery.
** Cutting-edge surveillance systems: Any smart city also, inherently, improves the standard of living for its citizenry. With safety emerging as one of the increasingly important factors in the quality of life enjoyed by people residing in a city, in addition to the growing incidence rates of major and minor crimes, it becomes essential for a smart city to also ensure that its citizens feel safer within its boundaries. Round-the- clock surveillance systems, such as those employed in London or Lucknow can often help in not only improving the response rate of the civil defence force but also in deterring potential crimes and augmenting the sense of security.
By Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco Electronic Systems Pvt. Ltd.