concept image of smart city

With the advent of big data and the internet of things, new realms of possibility have opened for truly “smart” cities – cities with digitally interconnected and technologically managed infrastructures, operations, and citizen interface.

The most-used definition of big data goes something like this: huge data sets that can be analyzed in order to show patterns and trends.

Gil Press, Forbes technology contributor, proposes two additional definitions that are instructive in the context of smart cities:

  1. “The belief that the more data you have the more insights and answers will rise automatically from the pool of ones and zeros.”
  2. “A new attitude by businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and individuals that combining data from multiple sources could lead to better decisions.”

This revolution in analysis, along with the technological advances of the Internet of Things (IoT) has greatly increased a city’s ability to digitally measure and manage what matters most. That could be infrastructure integration, asset, fleet, and workforce management, public safety, crowd control, meter monitoring, parking enforcement, resource optimization, and so on.

Cities support these kinds of mission objectives through a variety of data sources. As cited in a report by Deloitte, these sources include “video from CCTV cameras, voice, social media, streaming data, sensor logs, supervisory control systems and data acquisition.”

As of 2017, examples of smart solutions in cities include:

Los Angeles: By swapping out 4,500 miles of streetlights with smart LEDs that feed into big data systems and inform the the city of each bulb’s status (working properly, malfunctioning, or dead), technicians can respond almost immediately to repair or replace the bulb. Should a city wish to implement it, the technology currently exists to install smart bulbs capable of changing colors or blinking to announce changing road conditions or to warn drivers of lane closures, accidents, or other hazards.

Shanghai: The spiral architecture of the new Natural History Museum was inspired by a seashell – however, it was the big-data derived insight into crowd control that allowed the museum’s shape to be capitalized on accordingly in managing the flow of thousands upon thousands of visitors.

Saudi Arabia: The Saudi Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has announced the undertaking of a $500 billion smart city project that is intended to spur urban development, increase citizen satisfaction, and allow the Kingdom to better compete in terms of urban sustainability.

Though Los Angeles, Shanghai and Saudi Arabia represent some of the leading edge developments in smart city initiatives, the reality is that most city’s operations are still uncoordinated and data capture is still conducted through labor-intensive manual processes.

The upside to this is that smart cities aren’t a matter of if, but rather of when. There is only one way for modern cities to go, and that is toward smart technology adoption and implementation.

This  means that the market is not only wide open but growing exponentially to represent massive, still largely untapped growth potential. Experts have released statistics indicating that the internet of things – the smart-enabled objects integral to smart cities – will expand to approximately 30 billion objects by 2020.

At KOVA, we and are products are on the front lines of the smart city revolution. To see how our products and expertise are helping cities integrate and scale for a smarter future, read “High-Tech Public Safety Centers Aren’t Just for Big Cities Anymore.”

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