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Digital transformation of cities: Creating smart and engaged communities with IoT

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Ubiquitous connectivity, AI, distributed computing and blockchain help cities transform their data to actionable intelligence.

Digital transformation of cities

Digital transformation of cities

What makes a city a “smart city?” Some would argue that it has to do with the degree to which the city is staying abreast of technology advancements, but that is too one-dimensional. Smart cities require an integrated approach to IoT, connectivity, AI, distributed computing and other technologies.

To truly capitalize on smart city technology, technologists must understand the immediate and long-term pain points for city governments; the procurement framework including budgetary and funding issues; and the overall bureaucratic and legislative processes.

An integrated approach to technology implementation – cutting across all departments in the city – can help alleviate specific challenges such as parking management, traffic management, street lighting, energy consumption (and demand response), and public safety.

Gaining traction

The smart city concept has been gaining traction globally for the past decade – however, the United States has lagged behind. Technology has been touted as the solution for every challenge faced by city managers.

The smart city concept involves the implementation of communication and information technology hardware, software and services to improve operational efficiency, drive citizen engagement and quality of life, and identify new revenue sources. Sensors and gateways collect data from infrastructure such as street lighting and traffic management systems and transfer it to the cloud, where it is aggregated, normalized, analyzed and interpreted in real time.

City leaders can use that information to, for example, proactively maintain infrastructure or quickly respond to emergencies.

Success for IoT deployments means breaking down departmental silos

Smart city strategic goals are intertwined: investment in one area is likely to have an impact on other areas. For instance, an IoT solution that reduces traffic congestion is likely to have a direct impact on a city’s environmental objectives. Furthermore, while the strategic goals are much more likely to be similar across several cities, their prioritization may vary. Larger cities are more likely to prioritize traffic management and safety over environmental concerns, which in turn is likely to impact their decision to select and implement specific solutions.

Typically, most smart city initiatives are departmental priorities and data is not shared with other departments in cities. This results in different departments deploying IoT solutions that may not easily integrate and create logistical headaches for IT departments.

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Article Credit: NW

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