The Smart City

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Mohammed Amin, Senior Vice President Turkey, Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East, EMC
Mohammed Amin, Senior Vice President
Turkey, Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East, EMC

I remember the days when 007 gadgets were so cool that every man wanted have them, or when Back to the Future or Star Wars movies were so futuristic we thought it’s just the fancy Hollywood production.. Do you still feel the same? Hoverboards are available commercially everywhere.

So if you are one of the people who think Smart Cities are so futuristic…. Think again. And if you think it’s a luxury… Take a good look around you.

With urbanization growing at a fast rate, traffic congestion is going up, rush hour is getting worse, pollution is increasing, essential supplies such as power and water are getting depleted and before we know it the number of people living in cities will well surpass the available resources and infrastructure. Governments have to think of better ways to manage the cities and to allocate their resources. The Smart City is a survival necessity – an agile infrastructure, adaptive to the sudden swing in the supply-demand upset.

The Smart City is a way for Governments to improve the lifestyle of the city’s inhabitants through safer environment and better allocation of city resources. The Smart City allows governments to encourage inhabitants’ engagement, to have sustainable economy and to attract new businesses and promote innovation.

Smart grids, with smart meters and homes or just smart appliances allow the city to better manage and optimize their energy supply with renewable sources of energy and smart conversion of waste to energy & fuel and wastewater treatment. Smart roads and transportation with integrated sensors and CCTV leads to intelligent traffic management, which in turn results in not only less congestion or pollution, saved lives through faster response to emergencies. It also helps businesses reduce costs and improve time to market through multi-modal transport. CCTV combined with real time data analytics reduces, if not prevents, crimes leading to a much safer living. Connected, integrated wearables & intelligent Internet-connected devices transmit and analyse health and vital functions data in real time resulting in faster response, early and accurate diagnostic and preventive treatment leading to a healthier community.

This is all creating data-driven communities inhabited by Digital Citizens with information at their fingertips, who expect always-on personalized superior level of services.

For an urban center to transform into future-proof robust Smart City it needs a strong ICT foundation that give it an agile, flexible and cost effective software-defined infrastructure forming the basis of the Smart City Cloud for faster provisioning of additional on-demand citizen services. It also needs a Data Lake Layer for the aggregation, management and analysis of data that’s transmitted and received from the Internet of Things. This layer uses predictive analysis of the data to seek actionable and predictive insights for proactive ways to influence outcomes in real time. And it needs an Application Layer which enables the consumption of all the information aggregated and analyzed in the Data Lake. It provides for monetization, collaboration and a platform for developing, testing & deploying cloud-native applications in an agile manner. This allows for cities to develop, modify and scale applications and services in a shorter period of time thus accelerating market innovation and growth.

Does this mean that cities should throw away every ICT investment made and start building their ICT foundation from point zero?

Absolutely not!

A smart city is a long-term multi-phased IT project. It starts with putting a comprehensive strategy that involves all stakeholders and that has an ultimate objective. The implementations should start from the existing infrastructure and on focused services moving gradually to the wider network of services and full integration. This is by far a more sustainable and scalable model. The strategy should cover data security, accessibility, and privacy. Any breach in data security will impact the trust of citizen in their governments. Therefore, a smart city should have solutions such as data encryption and identity and access management, as well as security monitoring and analysis, to ensure the safety and integrity of city networks. There is also a strong need for cybercrimes laws and data laws to govern the use of the vast amounts of data shared.

Check the EMC sponsored IDC whitepaper on the key driver for the Smart City and its emergence in the region and learn more about the benefits it brings for citizens, residents, visitors and businesses as well as the framework for a successful Smart City.

Mohammed Amin

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