Smart Cities as the Ultimate Form of Digital Transformation

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What would it be like to live in a smart city? Cisco has already created a blueprint for it on its own sprawling 2.6 million sq ft. campus in Bengaluru. We explain how such smart cities will integrate traditional technologies with the new emerging technologies to improve quality of life.
Ever wondered what would life be like to live in a smart city? So much has been said about them that I’m sure everyone would desire to at least experience living in one. A smart city can be considered as the ultimate digital transformation, which integrated traditional technologies with emerging ones to improve the quality of life. Let’s see what it would be like to live in such a city.

Life in a Smart City
Imagine that you wake up in the morning and open your mobile phone and check where your office bus has reached on a map, so that you can time yourself to reach the bus stand just in time. Your company also tracks you and other employees who’re on board its entire bus fleet, along with their gender and arrival times to ensure complete safety of each employee. If you prefer to drive down to work instead, then you check for free parking slots in your office campus from your mobile app and book one in advance.
You reach office and choose a cubicle you want to work in, because your company hasn’t assigned any fixed seats to anyone. Each cubicle has a QR code outside, which you scan to login and personalize the work space. Once logged in, it adjusts the lighting and A/C as per your preferences, and a screen in the cubicle even displays your family photos. And btw, you already checked whether this particular cubicle was vacant from your mobile phone last night and booked it because it has the workstation of a particular configuration you will be needing for your work today.
During a break, you walk over to your office café to grab a coffee, and while there, remember that you have to book a meeting room for some visitors. You pull out your tablet and quickly check the status of meeting rooms on a map, and book the one that with an A/C, Internet access, and signboards.
When you leave office, all lights and a/c automatically go off. The entire city is under electronic surveillance as you drive along, to give you a warm secure feeling that the authorities are watching your safety. You pass by a kiosk where you see some ladies filing an FIR over a high-definition video chat and a touch screen with a complaint form. You’d never imagined that women would ever be able to do this, because doing so required going to the police station.
You have to pick up something from the mall before going home, so you once again pull out your mobile phone to check which mall has a free parking slot, because it is rush hour and most malls would be crowded. You save both time and fuel by doing that.

Cisco Creates a Smart City Blueprint in its own Campus
If you went into dreamland just thinking about smart city life, then you’ll be glad to know that Cisco has already created such a smart city blue print in its own campus in Bangalore. Spread over 2.6 million square feet, the campus has about 8,000 employees working in it, who have access to all the facilities that we just talked about.
It offers a pervasive network infrastructure that can easily and securely connect to devices (like sensors, information access points and mobile devices). Some key features of the campus include networked smart parking, connected cafes, recreation and relaxation rooms, a rooftop solar power system and indoor “neighborhoods” designed for employees to quickly meet (in person or virtually), collaborate, innovate and deliver wherever they are located.
The campus also features solutions for Smart Work Space, which has tools like Cisco Maps comprising of navigation applications and sign-based information to make it easier for employees to locate meeting rooms and book them through a device of their choice. The map shows the occupancy status of each room by floor, time, etc. and even devices available in the room like a/c, Internet, signboards, etc.
The cubicles inside the new buildings of Cisco Smart City carry QR codes, which a user can scan to log in and personalize the workspace. Using a mobile app, a Cisco employee can also book an available workstation or a private office. The app configures the space to his/her personal liking. The temperature and light is adjusted basis their profile and it can be further personalized by having the screen in the room feature family pictures.
High definition video solutions enable employees to collaborate through any device of choice from any location at any time. Tools like Cisco Jabber, Cisco AnyConnect provide employees the luxury of being able to connect to the corporate network irrespective of physical location even while on travel over the Internet.
The company’s transport buses are fitted with GPS that is connected to the Transport control room. It enables employees get constant updates on transport availability.

Users can view the availability of workspaces on a map. Once they block a space, the map indicates its location and how to get there

Users can view the availability of workspaces on a map. Once they block a space, the map indicates its location and how to get there

Challenges of Making Existing Indian Cities Smart
Implementing smart city solutions in existing urban Indian cities with their poor infrastructure, poor integration/coordination between civic authorities, would be a nightmare and full of hurdles. We asked what would it take to enable such a smart city infrastructure in our existing cities?
The task of developing Smart Cities in India comes with its share of challenges, thanks to unplanned urbanization, scarcity of resources, density of population, lack of basic citizen services and inadequate infrastructure to name a vital few. The issue is also of governance, according to Cisco. We need to ease regulations to get things going, especially for brownfield projects. But with the new government’s priority on setting up 100 Smart cities, Cisco is pretty optimistic that it will happen.

All of Cisco’s transport vehicles are fitted with GPS devices, which can be accessed from a centralized control room, who can view how many employees and their gender are sitting in a particular vehicle.

All of Cisco’s transport vehicles are fitted with GPS devices, which can be accessed from a centralized control room, who can view how many employees and their gender are sitting in a particular vehicle.

Using emerging technologies like SMAC and IoT in Smart Cities
According to Cisco, the exploding number of mobile-based end devices, explosion (seven-fold for the last seven years) of cloud-based applications, and the role and impact of social media on people’s lives will power Internet of Everything, which in turn will form the blue print of Smart City solutions. Cities will adapt to ever-growing population through the use of mobile applications, sensors, crowd sourcing and data analytics to respond and deliver services to its citizens.  For example, IoE will enable governments to create services that leverage Big Data and crowdsourcing to expand the power of machine-to-machine communications for public service delivery. Government departments and cities can benefit directly from technologies like Cloud and Analytics that are transforming supply-chain management and logistics in the private sector.
Technology will also be embedded into the city to deliver improved urban services like public safety and security, healthcare, intelligent buildings and green energy. The entire city will run on network information and offer citizen services to enhance the quality of life in a Smart City.

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