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‘Data is the foundation of Smart Cities’

(Left to right) Roudra Bhattacharya of Livemint in a discussion with Robert Demann, Siemens, India and Afzal Shabaz Mohammed, Siemens, UAE.Premium
(Left to right) Roudra Bhattacharya of Livemint in a discussion with Robert Demann, Siemens, India and Afzal Shabaz Mohammed, Siemens, UAE.

We caught up with two leaders from Siemens, Robert Demann, Head, Smart Infrastructure, Siemens, India and Afzal Shabaz Mohammed, Head of MindSphere and Command Control Team, Expo 2020, Siemens UAE to discuss how technology can make cities more sustainable, efficient, and caring.

Rising population, increasing urbanization, and growing demand for reliable energy are some of the commonest concerns plaguing us today. Research by Deloitte reveals that 2.5 billion people will be a part of the global urban population by 2050.

Enter, Smart Cities.

Think cost-effective landscapes supported by technology and sustainable frameworks for city planning, education and transportation. Imagine a hyper-connected future, where data is the driver of growth.

“Unlike regular infrastructure, smart infrastructure is not about time and material needed to make it: it’s about the data needed to plan, manage and run it efficiently," said Robert, at a recent discussion held in association with Livemint on Smart Cities.

Watch the video of the discussion here:

“The available data needs to be used effectively," said Afzal. “Are we able to minimize the downtime? It’s crucial to create situational awareness and optimize operations."

Smart Infrastructure leads to a better quality of life

Robert also elaborated on the small changes that Siemens has already implemented, like its initiatives in Bangalore.

“Dynamic Traffic Control System from Siemens was recently installed at a certain stretch in Bangalore with Smart Sensors. Based on analytics, that consider multiple parameters and scenarios, this system predicts and controls the signal cycle-phase time intelligently, thus enabling smooth traffic flow."

Smart Cities hold a lot of promise when it comes to energy conservation.

“Smart cities will use energy grids. These grids can be planned through digitalization using technology to simulate them. When a grid is running an operation, you can detect defects and losses, and accordingly take corrective action much faster than before" added Robert.

According to a report by McKinsey, smart cities can improve crucial quality-of-life indicators by 10%-30%. With efficient use of low-powered sensors, wireless networks, web and mobile-based applications, smart cities can monitor environmental conditions, track energy usage and help citizens access improved living conditions. Needless to say, a functioning smart city not only provides a quality life, but also helps increase productivity by eliminating inefficiencies.

Expo 2020 Dubai: A future Smart City blueprint

The discussion also focused on the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020, where Siemens is providing a future Smart City blueprint for the world to see.

“The Expo 2020 Dubai will be a sample of a Smart City, with 137 buildings connected through a network. It is the first global expo in the Middle East and will create an opportunity for people to come and connect. We want to make this the most digital Expo ever that tracks everything--from waste management to power consumption," Afzal added.

If the Expo is any example, the reality of Smart Cities is not too far away.

However, there are a few caveats.

“In the beginning, it’s important to not think of cities as a whole. But, maybe, just focus on the different aspects of it, a Smart City is a collection of smart campuses and we could start there; with commercial and residential complexes, universities, townships, industrial areas, etc." urged Robert.

Agreeing to the same, Afzal said: “This is more a journey than a destination, as what people expect from cities will also change with time."

Instead of applying the same cookie-cutter approach to every city, it’s necessary that every hub is approached in a unique way.

“Identify what the city needs. Start with gradual small improvements, analyze the pain points and build multiple smart campuses culminating into a city," he added.

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