A smart city is a living organism that generates vast amounts of data, continually providing new insights. Let’s make our cities smart!
Smart City Means Smart Government
Imagine for a minute that you are the mayor of a large city. What would you like to see on the one dashboard that you look at every morning when you start your business day? Traffic and mobility? Health and education? Or perhaps just tax income? The truth is, you will want all these kinds of data on your dashboard, and many more.
There’s no organization that knows more about a person than government (with the possible exception of Facebook and Google). Governmental institutions have insight into our health, wealth, education, housing, work situation, and what not. At the moment however, many of the data sources are unconnected.
Governments would do good to bring data together to steer their policy making. This holds true for both national and regional government, and for local government at city level.
Citizens in Command
Aggregating this data is not an aim in itself. Citizens are crying out for better services from local, regional and federal governments. They set the same high levels of satisfaction and customer experience for their authorities as for the commercial partners they are dealing with. This implies governments too need to take part in the 24-hour economy: even if the town hall is not open physically 24/7, citizens expect to have access to municipal services whenever they want, regardless of location and of device. Citizens also want to start conversations with the people they elected into office and with their administrations. Communication between authorities and citizens becomes a two-way street.
Three Is to a Smart City
What are the characteristics of a smart city? At EMC, we see three:
- A city needs to be instrumented, enabling the measurement of as many aspects as possible of the city and its people.
- A city that is interconnected enables the movement and fusion of the data in real time or near-real time, thus ensuring the availability of the data where and when needed.
- Intelligence is the third `I’ in the build-up of a smart city, thus enabling insights of the data to be harvested and shared, allowing a city and its people to respond, adjust and adapt to life-events as they occur.
In short: a smart city can observe its surroundings and sense and respond to its environment, providing resources on demand when its citizens need them.
Just imagine what cities could do with the wealth of data they gather and analyze. They can find new ways to improve public safety through data analysis and pattern recognition. They can prevent social fraud and tax fraud. They can combine social and healthcare data to drive prevention campaigns. They can help emergency services avoid traffic jams.
Cities can use data analytics for virtually any area that they are responsible for, ranging from education to healthcare and mobility and from energy to public safety. The gains that can be made are enormous and there’s basically no limit to the number of smart services a city can offer its citizens. Just consider:
- Smart education: large-scale online courses and distance learning will allow people to learn wherever they want and whenever they want, regardless of their age.
- Smart energy: the smart grid will keep an eye on both power consumption and power production, and will keep supply and demand in balance.
- Smart services: a smart city portal can be a one-stop shop for all interactions between citizens and all of their municipal services.
- Smart mobility: if we were able to give citizens better information on public transport options, they would turn to public transport more often, rather than contributing to traffic congestion. Smart apps that give a citizen a set of clear options with smart timetables may change the way we move around a city.
Wanted: Smart Platform
Is this just a pipe dream? Not at all, this may actually be closer than you think possible. As it happens, all technology is available to create a smart city platform.
All we need is five minutes of political courage. To work properly, a smart city platform must do away with boundaries between departments within government. The smart city can be implemented as a series of initiatives across individual domains, but the data and information should be shared across all entities. For instance, in a governmental enterprise data lake. This common data platform will be used to aggregate information from internal and external data sources to perform cross-functional analytics and derive actionable intelligence.
Internal data include cities data & database data; external data sources such as social media (Twitter, Facebook), web services (about the weather, for instance) and sensory data (Internet of Things).
All the elements needed are there to create the platform. Truly smart cities are already implementing it. Now it’s up to all local governments too: to make up their minds to become really smart.
Find out everything about the EMC Modern Data Center.