I spend a lot of time thinking about IoT, smart business entities, big data, advanced analytics, and digital transformation. Sure, these are all buzzwords but one of them stands out as being more nebulous than the others. Smart.
Even Merriam Webster’s definition of smart feels inadequate: Mentally alert, knowledgeable. Wikipedia is a little better: having or showing a quick-witted intelligence.
“Smart cities” are drawing massive investment. According to IT industry analyst firm IDC, smart city tech is forecast to hit $135B by 2021. Smart city technology is designed to do the following:
- Gain situational awareness in real time from sensors and devices throughout the city
- Identify correlations and root causes of problems
- Surface insights, scores, alerts, and performance information that feeds decision making
- Fix problems proactively (such predictive maintenance on infrastructure, or rerouting traffic when there is a water main break)
- Optimize performance of city systems with respect to business goals, such as safety, energy efficiency, operational efficiency or user experience
- Deliver recommendations, insights, and information to citizens and connected entities
But in order to call a city “smart”, it requires integration across the domains that make up the city. IDC defines smart city development as “the use of smart initiatives combined to leverage technology investments across an entire city, with common platforms increasing efficiency, data being shared across systems, and IT investments tied to smart missions.”
In other words, just because a city has smart infrastructure doesn’t meant it’s a smart city. For a city to be truly smart, diverse sources of data from a variety of urban domains must be connected together in order to unlock opportunities to deliver innovation to today’s connected citizens. This requires using a common platform to create contextual awareness, insights and recommendations.
At TCS, we help cities take advantage of the untapped value of data from across urban domains, as seen in this video that showcases our Intelligent Urban Exchange (IUX) software. IUX helps cities collect and analyze data from a wide array of sources — networks, sensors and actuators, systems, social media, open city data, and other sources — to improve planning, operations and service delivery. But to meet the rising expectations of connected citizens, IUX makes it easier to integrate data from across urban domains such as energy, transportation and utilities. This enables cities to achieve the contextual awareness to understand how traffic will be influenced by situations like a water main break, so bus routes can be automatically rerouted to minimize the impact. Or how streetlights can shine brighter when crowds gather from a major sporting event or an automobile accident, or even in response to rising crime rates in specific neighborhoods.
Takeaway: As mayors, city planners and other stakeholders embark on smart city initiatives, it is critical that they avoid a siloed approach offered by many smart point solutions, and instead think of the smart city as an overlay to all of its interconnected components.