More than half of the global population now lives in urban areas (United Nations, 2012) and rural to urban shift is continuing due to socio-economic considerations of inhabitants. For example Asia is home to half of this population, and by 2025, more than 1.3 billion people will be added to urban areas, with nearly 400M+ in India and China alone.
Implementation of smart technologies & processes will enable urban cities to cope up with the tremendous burden of urban influx and will help make growth sustainable. Smart cities use ICT to improve the services that support urban environments – security, healthcare, and transport and governance.
The overall objective of implementing smart ICT based solutions not only helps in reduction of the environmental impacts of urbanization but also helps in optimised use of resources and with the result cities will consume lesser resources to deliver higher and efficient outputs. Smart ICT solutions have a capability to alter social behaviour which is one of the most critical requirement for cities to be smart (People need to be smart irrespective of socio-economic considerations). It can offer new ways of operations, learning, living, working and travelling, and help apply smart and integrated approaches to the management of systems and processes.
ICT is changing the evolution of cities and is enabling urban planners to bring about paradigm shift in thinking and resultant planning process which is largely driven by smart thinking and use. The access to internet is changing the traditional urban planning processes and designs and is offering planners to fuse physical and automation systems to deliver next generation smart infrastructure to make the economy, environment, mobility and governance of a city more efficient and effective.
A city is smart when it connects the physical infrastructure, the ICT infrastructure, the social infrastructure, and the economic infrastructure to leverage the collective intelligence and efficiency of the city. Regardless of whether ICT takes centre stage in the development of a smart city or not, it is clear it is a key driver of smart city initiatives and thus needs attention from city planners and the various stakeholders interested in sustaining and improving quality of life in urban areas.
Some of the common ICT applications which ensure smart city objectives are achieved are:
Deployment of Sustainable and Highly Available Communication Networks
Communication system is one of the most critical infrastructure required to realize smart city goals and city managers should focus on building rich environment of communication networks that support digital applications, ensuring that these networks are available throughout the city and to all citizens. This plan for easy access to networks should include a communication infrastructure that combines cable, optical fibre, and wireless networks. This will offer maximum connectivity and bandwidth to citizens, businesses and government. The widespread availability of fast Internet speeds has often been shown to lead to the development of innovative approaches towards social challenges, governance challenges and economic challenges. Wireline and Wireless networks compliment the explosive availability of mobile applications, smartphones, the increased connectivity of smart devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), utility sensors and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology thus enabling an environment of collaborative computing and intelligent operations.
Use of Smart Devices and Agents
While implementing ICT for smart city, city managers should consider implementing a plan for a city which ensures that physical space and infrastructure elements of the city are enriched with embedded systems, smart devices and sensors which have capability of offering real-time data exchange, alerts, and information processing. The data stream received from such sensors and process should be able to effectively deliver city management dashboards to ensure resilient service and infrastructure state. ICT is currently being used to revamp city’s critical infrastructure and enabling new ways for city transport management, traffic control or environmental services. Additionally, the extensive and ubiquitous use of ICT is empowering the development of essential services for health, security, police and fire departments, governance and delivery of public services.
Developing Smart ICT based Urban Spaces
Developing smart ICT based urban spaces, by connecting the embedded systems, sensors and smart devices located across the city together to form a cohesive and integrated ICT infrastructure for the city. Smart urban spaces leverage ICT to deliver more efficient and sustainable services and infrastructures within that specific area. These spaces could possibly include services like electric car charge points, energy-efficient buildings, smart’ meters and smart heating and cooling systems. WiFi hotspots and service delivery kiosks that allow people to connect to the services on the move. These urban spaces deliver a wide range of innovations that can be of enormous environmental and economic benefit. The current focus and developments in cloud computing, IoT, open data, semantic web etc. have much to offer cities looking to deliver smart solutions. These technologies can assure economies of scale in infrastructure, standardisation of applications, and turn-key solutions for software as a service (SaaS), which dramatically decrease the development costs while accelerating the learning curve for effective functioning of smart cities.
The availability of ubiquitous ICT infrastructures stimulates the development of new services and applications by diverse forms of users leading to citizen- government participation and largely contributes to innovation in service delivery, and allows for the gathering of a more realistic assessment of users’ perspectives by conducting willingness surveys. Smart city e-services include services for the local economy and its development, governance, environment, energy, transport services, security services, education and health services etc.
Sensors can be used to manage the mobility needs of citizens with an appropriate Intelligent Transport System (ITS) that takes care of congestion, predicts the arrival of public transit vehicles or other public transportation options; managing parking spaces and so on. ICT can also be used for environmental and energy monitoring such as using sensors to manage solid waste systems, or to measure energy consumption and emissions. ICT can also be used in improving the health of citizens through telemedicine, electronic medical records etc. ICT helps deliver safe living condition by providing public Safety and Security systems, sensor-activated video surveillance systems can be employed along with location aware enhanced security systems, and estimation and risk prevention systems. Integration of the e-services is a critical factor which enables smart processes to deliver efficient & collaborative operations environment.
Open Government Data
The effective use of government data can precipitate the smart evolution of cities, creating national competitive advantage. Open government data leads to citizen – government connect, collaborative services, innovation in services etc., which leads to resilient and sustainable cities.
Mobility to serve citizens at their doorstep
Mobility has rapidly transformed the means of communication, information access and collaboration. It is undoubtedly the new IT frontier for government agencies to re-write the rules of citizen services. For example, government agencies can create apps to enable citizen make swifter payments for utilities such as electricity bills, gas connections. Such apps can be orchestrated by a business process management engine and authentication services, ensuring the right process flow for payments as well as security of sensitive citizen details including bank account or credit / debit card details etc. These apps can also inherit native mobile security features such encrypted data, automatic data wipe-out geo-fencing and data masking etc.