Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Developing smart cities is a journey

As cities progress in this journey, they will need to continuously improve and innovate to set new benchmarks to be truly known as a Smarter City

Making cities smarter is not only an imperative but a bare necessity for the country. The Smart Cities Mission is one of the several major urban development programmes focussed on India’s rapid growth—and its challenges and opportunities.

The aim is to promote economic growth, strengthen governance and improve results for urban residents. Smarter cities of all sizes are capitalizing on new technologies and insights to transform their systems, operations and service delivery.

Competition among cities to engage and attract new residents, businesses and visitors means constant attention to providing a high quality of life and vibrant economic climate. Forward-thinking leaders recognize that although tight budgets, scarce resources and legacy systems frequently challenge their goals, new and innovative technologies can help turn challenges into opportunities. The other initiative that is similar to IBM’s Smarter Cities is that of developing balanced rural development, the government has taken up the ‘Smarter Village’ initiative to develop villages on the Smarter Cities concept.

From the inception of its Smarter Cities programme in 2009, IBM has led the way in establishing itself as a leading provider of smart city solutions, entering into key collaborations with local authorities. IBM is the leader in smarter cities technology. IBM solutions for smarter cities includes integrated city command and operations center, smarter public safety solutions, smarter emergency/disaster management solutions, smarter transportation, smarter water management, smarter healthcare and smarter energy.

IBM focuses on collecting data and leveraging its own technologies, such as cloud services, big data analytics, mobile and social and its Intelligent Operations Center to integrate city systems and allow for the efficient management of city resources. IBM provides business insights and research, along with the tools and technologies required for the implementation of smart city solutions to city authorities.

Providing innovative technologies to track traffic congestion, conserve energy in buildings, use in-house expert knowledge to provide recommendations to governments and organizations on smart cities, and providing key business insights and research to assess the impact of smart cities, are some of the key best practices that have strengthened our position in the smart city market.

Cities can start with smarter solutions such as the integrated city command and operations centre to centrally monitor the health of key city functions and take coordinated actions. This can help in increasing collaboration between various city departments by integrating city functions such as utilities (water, energy and waste), transportation and public safety, helping to transform city operations from reactive to proactive. Smarter emergency/disaster management solutions help cities to provide comprehensive situational and organizational awareness to effectively manage emergency and crisis situations. These solutions can also be provided during operational decision support for interagency and task force communication, mission readiness, collaboration, coordination and critical information sharing. Smarter public safety solutions can help cities to create a single public safety platform spanning multiple agencies such as police, police control rooms, emergency numbers, fire, traffic, and anti-terrorism agencies, etc. Video analytics can be used to improve effectiveness of surveillance by providing features such as crowd detection, tripwire crossing, abandoned object, facial recognition, illegal turns and parking, vehicle classification and counting.

Smarter sater management solutions can be taken up by water authorities to get real time visibility of water supply in a city to ensure equitable water distribution. This will also help in improving network and asset management, metering, billing, leak detection (using hydraulic modelling), pressure management (using optimal pressure), non-revenue water management and demand management.

Smarter waste management solutions can be taken up for end to end planning, monitoring and efficient operation of waste management. Pan city waste management infrastructure and assets can be mapped (key sites and locations, such as community/RWA collection points, infrastructure, personnel, as well as location of any citizen-reported issues).

Smarter transportation solutions such as integrated fare management (single fare card) for hassle free journey by multiple modes of transportation. Smarter traffic management for improving overall traffic management, traffic prediction, improved traffic signalling based on congestion, traffic enforcement, etc. Smarter parking for hassle free parking experience for street and closed parking areas. Mobile apps for citizens by providing a single window of information on all city services, bill payment, complaint registration and grievances. Developing smarter cities is a journey, not a destination. As cities progress in this journey, they will need to continuously improve and innovate to set new benchmarks to be truly known as a Smarter City.

The author is the program lead, 100 Smarter Cities, IBM India.

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