Officials around the world are gathering all types of data — on traffic flow, air quality levels, and energy consumption — to make their cities safer, healthier, and more efficient. The scope and definition of a smart city has recently broadened to include environmental sustainability, affordable and reliable transit, access to education, and a local economy with businesses that explore new technologies.
Although it sounds promising to make our cities smarter, however, some ethicists worry that as technology progresses, it will become harder for citizens to maintain privacy.
To maintain anonymity and freedom, the data needs to be encrypted, truncated, and filtered. The processes must be automated with machine learning on a carefully curated alert list of data to be collected for the safety and health of the citizens. A multi-vendor machine learning data exchange formats must be established. However, this is easier said than done.
We discovered that to become such a city, the first and foremost is choosing the path of digitalizing. There are many aspects and ways to go about this path, but not without pitfalls and traps. Many large businesses want to own it all, designing the entire eco-system around their offerings and setting up barriers to competitors who want to enter. That will have a toll on the local economy and government who become hostages to the proprietary platform.
Therefore, the fair game is to have open standards and an open community where the local economy can come together and build the city’s platform. This is a platform that plays nice for multiple protocols, networks, and layers. This is a platform that enables assets and spectrums to be shared. This is a platform that opens the data to be sliced for insights without losing security and privacy. This path leads to a digitalized city for every citizen.
Starting with streetlights, the power grid that connects the entire city to its outermost boundaries, they are the street furniture and real estate for the city to deploy the backbone of its network. They are the bridge providing power and connecting the fiber optical backhaul and the wireless networks. This creates the framework to build the [physical] network of the city to add 5G networks, Wi-Fi hotspots, street light control systems, LiDARs, 360 degree cameras, and other IoT sensors. These assets can all work together [P2P network], exchanging data and optimizing the entire platform to do its job, serving the city and its citizens.
This level of P2P framework, machine learning, and automation requires a visionary, vastly complex, and dynamic platform that can grow on its own. Just like artificial intelligence, this task is impossible with human manual intervention.
However, we found that all the existing solutions offered by large businesses dictate “eyes on glass” monitoring, manual remediation, and siloed data feeds. These eco-systems are generally over designed, restrictive, and over priced. We also found that by being too large, they are unaware and cannot adopt to changes to the needs of the city, businesses, and its citizens. A large software update is required to address the inadequacies and rollouts cause long delays and inefficiencies. That is very expensive to the city and the economy.
Monitoring has to be fully automated with artificial intelligence and machine learning, the remediation must be self healing/configurable, and the data must be on an open standard to allow it to be shared across unlimited platforms. The city needs an execution and financing partner that is well connected with innovators around the world to bring the latest visions into the “constant evolution” of the smart city.