How can we make our cities smarter?

People studying urban development and the inhabitants of big cities realize that optimized operations or new applications based on public infrastructures and services make a great difference in their everyday lives.

It’s easy to imagine a paradigm shift between digital technology advancements for personal use, with the modern requirements from city infrastructure, turning our cities into smart ones. While the topic of smart cities was added some years ago in the agenda of policymakers, it’s the recent advancements in technology that can have a significant impact on making it a reality. In 2020 we already have the first examples of completed, or soon to be completed, services on these directions.

Primary applications under discussion are the modernization of city resources management and the impact on mobility and transportation.

For example, autonomous mass transportation can transform our everyday lives, especially considering applications in specific city spots. You may consider as an example, a theme park or a university campus. Smart grid and the use of renewable energy in tandem with electric vehicles are other popular examples. The recent pandemic made crystal clear the importance of monitoring systems with functions like temperature monitoring, respecting personal data on high traffic areas.

All the above are important, but most importantly, these are not science fiction but doable with existing technologies.

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The first real-world applications

At Dell Technologies, our global presence enables us to get involved in such projects in different countries. You may have learned how authorities in Dubai monitor electricity and water utilities.

Dell Technologies is the foundational partner of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) on its initiative to make Dubai the smartest city in the world. The project requires IoT technologies that enable the smart grid and monitoring of renewable power, and predictive analytics that will allow authorities to extract insights regarding energy usage.

At Colombus, Ohio, a smart transportation application enables pregnant women to easily schedule transportation to medical care facilities and doctors, providing alerts on emergency issues. The reasoning behind this application is the high infant mortality rate in the poorest neighborhoods.

Related to mobility and the optimization of traffic is a smart city project on Pittsburg regarding the expansion of the Surtac system. Surtac is the city smart traffic lights system, that adapts the traffic lights’ operation to the changing traffic partners, to shorten transportation time. The system effectively uses AI-based traffic theory training with data provided by a network of sensors that monitor main routes and adjust traffic control in real-time. This smart approach results in 40% reduction in idle time on stoplights and 25% reduction of commute time.

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It’s not a single technology but a platform of innovation.

While technology enables us to imagine the above type of novel and smarter services, planning at a metropolitan level requires a different perspective in terms of the underlying infrastructure. In Smart cities, technology enables continuous innovation based on the following key concepts:

  1. Instrumentation that provides monitoring of parameters around the city and its people in a secure and non-invasive manner.
  2. Interconnected systems characterized by data interoperability and data availability, enabling real-time or near real-time operations and response to life events.
  3. Intelligence that powers data-driven insights.

Cloud, mobile technology, analytics, edge computing, and IoT can be seen as accelerators, while other technologies including real time messaging, social media platforms, and blockchain, are essential parts of solutions.

Our approach at Dell Technologies

At Dell Technologies, we can provide the essential infrastructure required to support digital city services.

We can provide platforms that enable agility, expansion, and continuous innovation, based on our expertise from edge systems, to core data center solutions, to cloud services. Our approach includes a layered architecture.

–         On our very first layer, we consider the connectivity features that enable data acquisition, connections with existing databases and messaging like social media broadcasting.

–         On top of the connectivity layer sits the data center layer. providing Infrastructure-as-a-Service. As this infrastructure is software defined, a management and orchestration layer ensure the support of a digital city’s workload demands.

–         The Analytics layer comes next, delivering the data platform to store and analyze data. Big data processing and machine learning operations can be used to provide insights.

–         The top application layer enables the delivery of end-user applications.

This approach is based on open standards, enables continuous delivery of applications, supports agility, and avoids siloed operations and lock-ins.

The expertise from all members of Dell Technologies family of business-like VMware, RSA and SecureWorks, as well as the contribution of our strategic global partners, are of great importance to these solutions.

Needless to say about importance of the network of local partners in realization of smart city projects. By developing own solution and with strong system integration expertise partners can benefit from scalability such projects to other cities or “as a service” model monetization.

About the Author: Iryna Volk