Digital Transformation for Smart Cities

Geetha Bheema

4th January 2020

Population expansion and 5G– More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and calls it their home but it’s definitely expanding with the growing population. The ongoing exponential surge in population is sparking urbanisation efforts with smart city designs and solutions to accommodate the challenges and strains that might be soon expected of an overflowing world population. 

Almost all aspects of our daily lives today are getting digitised rapidly and technology has become deeply engraved into the fabric of cities around the world, it is extremely crucial for us to think forward about how to restructure and adapt. Likewise, advanced connectivity technologies and 5G networks are becoming available for mobile app developers to innovate and governments to deploy for focus areas such as housing, security, healthcare and mobility. 

There is a desperate need for integration of these intelligent technologies and digital platforms to digitise and reinvent our city-scapes. The adoption does not seem a hassle at all too with our all natural digital-savvy Gen Z and Gen Alpha who basically can’t live without their gadgets and are affluent with using technology “to make life easier”.

What are Smart Cities?

Smart cities are not any place else but our urban areas that use Information and Communication Technology (ICT), in simpler terms data and digital technologies by means of sensors and devices to improve city-zens quality of life. These real-time insights generated from the river of data collected from these sensors and devices are aimed to manage services, improve operations and allocate resources efficiently in the city. 

It is a people-first (reductionist system) approach to reinvent urban infrastructures and plan for the future. Smart technology solutions and digital platforms powered by 5G network connectivity and AI are working backwards to solve problems that citizens might face and empower better living conditions down the road. 

The areas of focus of these innovations are endless from healthcare and security, to housing and mobility. This is perhaps a holistic view to planning ahead for city ecosystems. Likewise a way to control and produce desired outcomes, for instance eliminating pollution with zero emissions, eradicating road accidents, increasing mobility and housing in the city spaces and pushing for clean energy and power systems, etc. that are deemed to benefit mankind. 

Features and Smart Applications of a Smart City 

  1. Smart Housing

Housing is the first to see reinventions with smart house applications and appliances already being actively in use be it our dear voice assistants, Siri and Alexa, automatic vacuum cleaners that clean our spaces, thermostats maintaining temperature of spaces based on the number of people, digitised door locks for home security and permitted access for family and friends, etc. Tech enabled city and urban planning efforts are an extension of the city-wide intelligent sensors and camera devices powered by digital technologies inside the home (personal level monitoring) to community level monitoring for security in properties and private areas, deterrent of crimes in communities, protection and detection of fires and smokes in lone houses. 

These data enabled sensors are then capable of automatically notifying the respective people about breaches, to take the appropriate actions be it sending down the police or fire department for inspection. It also alerts the other people involved in such cases (i.e., the proximal neighbours) to take the necessary actions for preventing a domino effect or taking cover and evacuating said emergency spaces. 

Although this incorporation of technology that runs around the clock sounds expensive, it is actually more cost and energy efficient with solar powered systems. Likewise this digitisation and automation could allow for economic development services to progress in parallel as only the top-priority people will reside in these smart cities, reducing overall congestion in city spaces. Ultimately helping urban mobility too.

  1. Security 

Aka defence! The developments in technology and movements onto the digital systems from the physical systems over the past decade has increased the need for cybersecurity in parallel. With how often we hear on the news about data breaches and hackers easily infiltrating the networks to access highly personal data with malicious intentions pushing for force shut downs, tackling privacy and security risks has become absolutely essential. 

By implementing AI technologies and algorithms, smart city governments are able to protect these open networks and not just crime sources and enable data-driven policy making. This decreases the above-mentioned vulnerabilities and increases transparency and accountability for all data regardless of personal and confidential in terms of safety and security. 

  1. Smart Mobility

Imagine levitating robot operated shuttles and escalating walkways. With developments in technology to accommodate transportation for growing populations, transportation has also been a key area in the redesigning process in the past decade as city municipalities and planning authorities continue investing heavily on innovations that introduce technology, with aims to eliminate excessive vehicles on the road to reduce carbon emissions and improve safety. This can be easily achieved with zero-emission ride-sharing systems that are not only environmentally friendly but also reduces traffic congestion while connected to an intelligent and secure network that guarantees reliability. 

Likewise, incorporating smart sensors and cameras to these digital technologies can effortlessly help with remote monitoring to prevent traffic road accidents and hazardous safety lapses on the road. Computer Vision is one such technology that uses proprietary video and sensor analytics to remotely monitor the roads and even does wonders such as preventing jaywalking of smart city citizens by real-time notifications. 

  1. Healthcare

Smart city technologies are set to revolutionise the healthcare industry, with predictive analytics, telemedicine and calibration of our lifestyle wearables with smart functions to not only track and monitor daily activities but also extend for wellness initiatives. Imagine our smart watches managing our health conditions and treating them by intuitively suggesting preventions. These wearable devices will also be able to prompt emergency responses when seconds are crucial, for optimised speed in preemption and response time that can decrease adverse life outcomes and death. 

Likewise, incorporating sensors into the existing city lineaments with high-speed connectivity of data enables for benefits such as remote disease surveillance (i.e. when symptoms and complications are unanimous in a specific communities or locations and real-time environment quality monitoring (i.e. air quality, temperature, natural calamities) for preventions in advance. This simple and seamless individual and community monitoring systems allow for citizens to take immediate precautions and suit themselves with preventive measures (i.e. staying indoors or taking the appropriate measure such as wearing a N-95 mask when they absolutely need to go outdoors etc.) by the instant real-time information and notifications they will receive on their wearables.

Digital Technologies play an invaluable role in the transformation to Smart Cities for a resilient and future-proof living conditions.

Smart Cities are our urban areas reinvented with data and advanced technological solutions aimed to reach goals of a better future. While smart city technologies and applications cannot mend the tunnel-visioned and short-term planning of the past nor fix the housing shortages for the next generation particularly, but it definitely bypasses the repercussions of it and improves our quality and comfort of life in the present and  aims forward in parallel for resilient and future-proof living conditions. We have the power to digitise and harness technologies accordingly to change the trajectory and shape a better future for ourselves and the generations to come. 

Let’s seize this opportunity together. Here at groundup.ai, we have extensive expertise in the field of intelligent technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics. We provide smart solutions across various industries around the world so feel free to have a chat with us to find out more about the Smart City solutions we offer

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