ClearWorld May 2018 - Page 8

Smart city initiatives have the potential to alter the urban landscape of major cities, but must overcome a series of significant hurdles to succeed. That was the key takeaway from the Infrastructure Masons’ Think Tank at the group’s recent Leadership Summit.

The session was the first in a series of Think Tank conversations organized by the iMasons, whose mission is to unite the builders of the Digital Age. The discussion brought together more than 100 thought leaders in the data center and cloud industries to brainstorm about the coming digital transformation. Data Center Frontier worked with the Infrastructure Masons to develop the questions for the Think Tanks.

A key theme was that the technology to enable smart cities is close at hand, but political and cultural challenges will take longer to resolve, and provide a high-stakes test for the tech industry’s ability to secure mission-critical infrastructure. Smart cities also rise important questions about privacy and data ownership and management.

The Smart City: Opportunities

Smart city technologies can bring many benefits by using sensors and data to deliver municipal services in a more efficient and personalized manner. The key opportunities identified by the iMasons include:

- The ability to create personalized dashboards for city residents, summarizing key info on weather, traffic, events and municipal services – “painting a picture of what’s happening in the city today.”

-Improved public safety through security monitoring and shift to LED-equipped smart light poles (which can also support WiFi).

Opportunities for augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality in commerce, entertainment and social activity.

-Improvement of public health and quality of life via better monitoring of air quality and other environmental factors. Improved city design and access to services could reduce stress and benefit health.

-Crowdsourcing and data sharing can build community and develop new programs and services.

Here at ClearWorld, we've been seeing shifts towards data offloading and free wifi for citizens. ClearWorld will continue to evaluate and implement resilient measures.

Where To Begin?

A major discussion point centered on how to get started on these transformative projects. Should cities develop from scratch? Should they mesh an IoT network on top of existing infrastructure? Some iMasons advocated for a fresh start, using a public-private development strategy, while others favored utilizing current infrastructure.

An area of agreement was that the implementation of these services is likely to occur in phases. Because of their expense, early smart cities initiatives have been tied to large public events, such as the Olympics (especially Rio de Janiero) or Super Bowl games. These events provide a focal point and timeline for implementation, driven by the city’s effort to capture tourism revenue or burnish its reputation as a travel destination.

One priority is the instrumentation of key urban infrastructure through the placement of sensors, wireless antennas, and cameras, which could be linked together by software to create customizable dashboards to help city officials and residents. Once the platform is created, services can become more efficient. Cost avoidance and cost reduction in existing services are the first priorities, with targeted spending up front to unlock savings through efficiency.

Smart Cities: A Platform for Urban Transformation Transformation Transformation