Tomorrow’s cities will thrive if they’re smart with digital

by October 31, 2018 0 comments

Authored By: VS Shridhar, Senior Vice President & Head, Internet Of Things

By 2050, almost 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, our cities. This boom is expected to be concentrated in India, China and Nigeria. With India set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2024, it will be home to many of the most populous cities. This redistribution of people comes with opportunities and perils as years-old infrastructure is pushed past its design limits. But using our shared history as a guide, meeting this challenge will undoubtedly focus our talents and technologies on better managing our resources to drive inclusive and sustainable growth. Now is the time to plan to address the growing needs of our urban population – housing, transportation, education, healthcare, energy and utilities and wealth creation opportunities for all.

We also need to use technology to achieve more with less, harnessing our data intelligently to improve lives and make our cities engines of economic growth and prosperity. The good news is that India is in the middle of a digital transformation driven by urbanisation and is adopting sophisticated technologies and building better infrastructure as part of a concerted government effort.

As civic leaders reimagine the way citizens live, work and play in cities, they are focused on embracing digital in our urban spaces to deliver citizen-centric services built on four key pillars – data, connectivity, security and privacy. Improving our cities requires permanent connectivity and smart digitalisation to transform them into real-time command centres for better decision making. To offer better citizen-centric services, it’s vital for our civic authorities to put in place a future-ready infrastructure to process huge volumes of data from billions of sensors and connected devices spread across cities, transmitting intelligent insights.

Take theInternet of Things (IoT), for example. Connecting everything from street lighting to cars and trains to the city’s digital infrastructure means we can collect and share insights that improve the efficiency of our cities. With billions of more devices set to become smart in the coming years, our view of how our cities are performing will become more rich and nuanced. Steady automation of daily urban processes and cognitive technologies will propel smart city initiatives further in areas like solid waste management, mitigating commuter pain through traffic management, intelligent lighting systems, reducing energy consumption and improving water and air quality. Critically, the more things we connect, the more we can make insight predictive, helping us to make cities more efficient and more able to flex with the growing and changing needs of our people.

So how do we make this a reality? Optimising digital communication networks, storage access and virtualisation can help enhance integrated technology infrastructure, transform our cities and reduce costs. Ensuring information security across this entire data spectrum is also vital and the data needs to be consistent and be presented correctly for the city to function. This requires a trusted digital infrastructure – a unified software, hardware and network solution that aggregates, secures, transfers and operates data from multiple intelligent devices while ensuring privacy.

We also need to plan to be a smart country. In the absence of a unifying digital infrastructure, each smart city project builds its own, straining our resources further. Integrated policies are needed to strengthen the digital linkages between urban and rural areas, building on existing economic, social and environmental synergies. This will help to ensure that the benefits of urbanisation are inclusive, collaborative and focused on the needs of all groups. We can only make our cities more liveable – and more loveable – if we work together to improve them.

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