Challenges of Creating Smart Cities

Challenges of Creating Smart Cities

Constructing smart cities require careful consideration and specific objectives. Technology must consider people and process. The city needs to determine what its priorities are. “Critical supply infrastructure and traffic management are at the core of each city and need to be protected,” said Erika Gorge, Communications Manager, Bosch Security Systems. “A trend in the security industry is the convergence of different critical infrastructural monitoring systems, such as city surveillance and transportation systems, energy/water distribution, waste management and communication networks. The convergence of those systems will coordinate and interconnect the police and fire brigades, in the case of accidents, natural disasters or criminal activities.”

However, the decentralized organizational structure of a city can deter a cohesive response from all agencies. This requires setting goals and establishing processes, on top of technology. “Process driven response is key to optimize the coordination during a safety crisis, because the success of the intervention does not rely only on the skills and training of the individuals handling the alarms, but, in addition, the whole process is automatically aided by the established emergency plans,” said Maria Ruiz, Strategic Project Manager, Fire Safety and Security Strategy, Siemens Building Technologies. “The technology is prepared to provide the functionality described, but the coordination of all the involved stakeholders in the city is challenging.”

It is crucial for cities to have an agreed vision and a disciplined implementation approach. “The people in the city are the change agents to drive transformation,” Bartlett said. “It's not just the technology, but the process, people and the roles people will take.” Shahpurwala agreed. “Collaboration among agencies means lower crime, better citywide services and better information — a smarter city at work.”
Smart cities require planning and communicating to the extreme, as it affects citizens, city administration and local businesses. “Getting the systems up and running and integrating seamlessly are really a shared responsibility of all parties involved: city representatives, users, integrators and manufacturers will have to collaborate unconditionally to be able to make smart cities a reality,” said Maarten Mijwaart, GM of Automatic Vehicle Identification, Nedap. “Excellent project management and clear ownership of responsibilities alone will not be sufficient. Introducing anything that affects the lives of people and the business of local entrepreneurs requires additional efforts and skills to be able to keep all parties aligned, keep the project going while managing the potential public debate.”

Lack of Benchmarks
There is no IQ test for city “smartness,” so most projects follow the money. “It is important to realize the cost and impact of crime on economies, be they developing economies or those in the developed world,” Shahpurwala said. “It can be very significant, ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent of the GDP in some cases.

Other figures include the cost of congestion, which takes into account the loss of productivity and wasted fuel. Studies of Los Angeles and New York City calculated congestion cost each city US$10 billion or more, which could be a significant drain on developing economies, Shahpurwala said.

Diversity is one reason why it is difficult to quantify results. “A city may have a harbor district while another may have a chemical complex; others would have an important business hub, or a focus on education or health care campuses,” said Maria Ruiz, Strategic Project Manager, Fire Safety and Security Strategy, Siemens Building Technologies. Contracting for smart integrated solutions and services depends on city-specific needs, which may involve multiple vendors. City agreements must clearly outline corresponding responsibilities, particularly as the line between IT and physical security blurs, bringing more providers together.

Future Developments
Internet of Things
In the future, systems based on new architectures will connect smart sensors that gather timely information. “The much discussed Internet of things, although currently still at an early stage of development, will certainly shape our future,” Gorge said. “The establishment of uniform standards is already a top priority today. The Internet of things will help close the information gap between the real world and the virtual world. This will assure more accurate and efficient processes, which are of highest importance in times of stretched resources.”

This elaborate sensor network opens up a new set of potential improvements. “Networks for smart-city systems or even normal video surveillance systems will have integration with the cloud,” said Cosimo Malesci, VP of Sales and Marketing, Fluidmesh Networks.

Community Services
Smart and safe cities provide more data for better and faster decisions. One exciting development of smart cities is e-health. “People are living longer, thankfully, but the burden on medical care is increasing,” Gorshkov said. “The bandwidth is available at more assisted-living facilities, so people can live in their homes while they receive health care monitoring. More telemedicine applications allow patients to connect to doctors, without having to use transportation for convenience and environmental benefits. They can communicate one-on-one with the doctor via VoIP and couple up with diagnostic equipment.”

Communities will benefit from improved access to medical services. “In smart cities, it will be important to transform health care delivery beyond traditional models of health care, and telehealth addresses a broader range of customer needs by delivering care at a distance — care without boundaries,” Shahpurwala said.

Responsible Governance
Smart cities provide many benefits, but those advantages can be abused. “The future is a continuing growth of collection and analysis of data, but citizens would need to have legal structures on how the information is used,” said Richard Smith, Professor in the School of Communication and Director of the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology, Simon Fraser University. “Without the law, there will be individual lawsuits. A company can be bankrupted for the misuse of data, such as a database of credit card data. The law ensures companies follow best practices.”

As cities grow, they must execute effective governance through people, processes and technology. Sustainability is an abstract concept, until the costs of wasted fuel, energy and water result in pollution and resource shortages. Affordable networked solutions hasten the proliferation of smart cities, improving the lives of city dwellers and the next generation.

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