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The evolving focus of global smart city development

The evolving focus of global smart city development
As megacities grow, intelligently managing rising population densities and rapid urbanization has made smart cities a topic of discussion.
As megacities grow, intelligently managing rising population densities and rapid urbanization has made smart cities a topic of discussion.

According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 68 percent of the world’s population could be living in urban areas by 2050, compared to 55 percent today.  Overcrowding, traffic congestion, security concerns, as well as rising demand for utilities, are driving the market for intelligent solutions and investment in smart technologies.

“A big focus of these investments is in sensors, internet of things (IoT) and cloud-based platforms that can capture data, analyze it, and provide
Dina Tamimi,
Director of Smart Cities and Industry Verticals
for High Growth Regions,
real-time information and insights that can boost safety, security and energy efficiency,” said Dina Tamimi, Director of Smart Cities and Industry Verticals for High Growth Regions at Honeywell. “These technologies help create actionable insights that city authorities and municipalities can use to improve their situational awareness and create productive environments that people and businesses want to call home.”

Tamimi added that as awareness of climate and sustainability issues rose, many cities were looking to decrease their carbon footprint as well. According to research from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group in partnership with the University of Leeds, the University of New South Wales and Arup, urban areas emit more than 70 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide and account for around the same in global energy consumption.

With advancements in energy-focused technologies, it is becoming easier for authorities to reduce cities’ environmental impact. While the social responsibility dimension is important to governments, the good news is that it is also possible to achieve a tangible cost reduction while reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

From smart infrastructure to smart governance

While connected technology is seen by some as the focal point of the smart city revolution, Deloitte suggested in a report that the focus of “Smart City 2.0” was now shifting toward better engagement of governments, citizens and businesses, with the aim of improving city services and quality of life.

“Although the focus of cities remains the same — creating livable environments where people and businesses can thrive — the ways to achieve that goal are evolving,” said William Eggers, Executive Director of Centre for Government Insights and John Skowron, Global Consulting Government & Public Services Leader at Deloitte.

Eggers and Skowron added that cities were increasingly putting data in the hands of end users to drive better decision-making. They tap into the collective intelligence of their constituents to create solutions around some of the toughest urban problems. They adopt a platform approach that enables constituents to use technology to reimagine core city operations. This is expected to lead to a more democratic and participative development process.

Solutions in demand for smart cities

According to Tamimi, security remains a major focus of smart city development. There is a growing appetite for IoT-enabled citywide security and surveillance systems that can be operated from purpose-built command and control centers. Integration is a key concept in this regard and cities can achieve an exponential impact when they integrate systems and use data analytics to drive KPIs and intelligent processes.   

“The gradual removal of barriers to data sharing is enabling city-wide digital platforms that will help achieve even greener, safer and more productive outcomes,” Tamimi said. “For example, integrated command and control centers (ICCCs) can bring together advanced IoT software and hardware solutions into one common operating platform that unifies public safety services, emergency responses as well as medical and ambulance dispatches.”

Such a platform empowers the operation teams and enables a consolidated approach to collect and analyze data, which in turn makes it easier to take informed decisions on various scenarios within the city. Along with this, the interest in video analytics also continues to rise.

Opportunities for systems integrators

As unifying disparate solutions becomes a key factor in smart cities, systems integrators (SI) who can bring IT and OT together effectively could see their business opportunities increase.

“At the greenfield level, integrators need to be part of early engagement between city planners and managers, contractors and technology partners to drive better planning and coordination to achieve smart outcomes for projects, not only at the city level but in buildings and larger master developments, too,” Tamimi said. “In brownfield projects, we are seeing a lot of scope for improving existing systems and processes, where energy efficiency can be improved ... along with solutions for smart traffic and parking management, smart street lighting, smart metering systems and other outcomes related to asset tracking. No company can do it alone and this is where a strong base of ecosystem partners is critical to the success of a smart city.”
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