The National Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was launched by the Government of India on June 25, 2015, with the aim of improving the quality of life and accelerating growth in the urban sector. Through a two-stage competition, 100 cities were selected to participate in this unique program. These cities would change for the better with improved infrastructure, the application of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and real-time monitoring within government systems.
As population and urbanization continue to grow, many cities will look to modern technologies and advanced networks to help them manage resource shortages. Governance in cities will increasingly take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) through the use of “smart city solutions”.
IoT: smart, scalable and strategic solution
Using technology in scaling a city requires smart, connected networks that can process data seamlessly. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an “intelligent” solution that accompanies these technological developments. The use and development of IoT has increased in recent years, and a study by IoT Analytics predicts that there will be approximately 27 billion IoT devices linked by 2025.
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The applicability of IoT relates to a range of applications including smart homes, parking, water monitoring, healthcare, road lighting, smart waste management, etc. Any comprehensive IoT strategy for creating smart cities must start with a database. Modern databases automate the dissemination of information from massive amounts of rapidly changing data points to enable intelligent real-time decision making.
Making cities smart in real time
Real-time data processing is crucial to solving the “smart cities” puzzle. Real-time data platforms analyze large volumes of city-scale data collected through a network of IoT systems. All data is ingested and processed in real time, from gigabyte to petabyte.
It is essential that huge amounts of data be processed in less than a millisecond and without error. To improve infrastructure, for example public lighting, roads and public spaces for citizens, it is essential to feed a fast and intelligent data flow for optimal urban services in the following areas:
Smart Energy: IoT sensors will drive the adoption of smart power distribution, dynamically-read electricity meters, self-healing energy networks, networked buildings and industrial facilities, automated water use and leak detection, and just-in-time waste collection.
Environmental controls and sustainability: IoT sensors would help maximize energy efficiency, pollution monitoring, traffic control, and sustainable resources. IoT sensors provide data on how to reduce emissions and eliminate waste. They enable long-term sustainability solutions when combined with in-depth and accurate analysis of real-time data.
Smart Buildings – IoT-enabled facility management solutions connect building-wide sensors to improve energy efficiency and space utilization at lower cost.
Mobility and connected transport: Monitored transit systems are safer and cleaner with coordinated transit systems, traffic control, parking and many other transit-related services that rely on real-time data on moving traffic, parking spaces and predictive information for road management.
Public Safety and Security: The essential characteristic of a smart city is to provide inhabitants with safer and better living conditions. Real-time cameras and video surveillance systems help reduce crime through motion detection and real-time crowdsourcing of crime data, including identifying security breaches, active crime tracking and speeding up response times from authorities.
5G powers the IoT
What does 5G mean for the IoT? How exactly does 5G achieve higher data rates? The advancement of everything from self-driving cars to smart grids for renewable energy to AI-enabled robots on manufacturing floors is made possible by the faster, more reliable and more secure connectivity of 5G. With the right speed, latency, and cost trade-offs, networks can support billions of connected devices in the vast IoT ecosystem.
5G and IoT are expected to generate around 1 billion terabytes of data by 2025. Current statistics predict that the volume of data generated will rise to 181 zettabytes by 2025, more than six times the amount processed in 2018.
With 5G we will have faster connections, more reliability and greater capacity at lower cost, enabling the high bandwidth and low latency needed for smart city applications such as real-time connected vehicles and data traffic and infrastructure security.
It also enables huge advancements in critical technology areas, from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to video surveillance, IoT and self-driving cars.
The introduction of emerging technologies such as IoT, AI and automation will catalyze the development of smart cities, but this growth will only succeed with the processing and analysis of 5G data on modern data platforms in real time.
These platforms can move large amounts of data across the network and create an affordable way to store data so it can be easily accessed and analyzed.
How ‘smart’ is India getting?
The knowledge gained through real-time data analysis is crucial to creating livable and resource-efficient cities.
We need instant and accurate data analytics to make sense of huge volumes of data from many sources, such as geospatial data, traffic data, pedestrian traffic data, vehicle count data, crime statistics, etc.
As data must be ingested, stored and computed in real time, managing this vast volume of data and managing the continuous increase in data are important issues that impact the development of smart cities.
An increase in the amount of data forms, such as social media, audio, video, and smart device data, has coincided with the growth of unstructured data. Organizations must be aware of and prepared with the tools, capabilities, and information needed to work with complex data in real time.
The ability of entities to share and analyze data determines the success of a smart city. For all companies and organizations to create software solutions and applications that support automation and create an “intelligent” infrastructure, they must instantly exchange critical information.
Currently, many cities are vying to become smart cities in hopes of reaping some of their economic, environmental, and social benefits. Therefore, they might consider opportunities made possible by the use of data analytics in smart city applications.
Real-time data management and processing capabilities can enable a new ecosystem of services, with data-driven governments and information-driven policies, and improve government operational efficiency.
As more and more Indians move from villages to towns and then to cities, India must embrace emerging innovations such as sensors, earth observation, cloud analytics, visualization data, data science, citizen science, IoT, etc., to create better and more efficient smart cities of the future.
(The author is Vice President – Asia-Pacific and Japan at Aerospike, which is a real-time data platform that allows organizations to instantly act on billions of transactions while reducing server footprint by up to ‘at 80%.)
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