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Imagine this: You’re walking down your city street on a beautiful sunny day. Suddenly, a digital display lights up in front of your eyes: “Incoming rain in three minutes.” Of course, your umbrella is at home and you’re still 15 minutes from the office. Thankfully, the same display popped up a map with three places to grab an umbrella within a block.

Imagine a scarier scenario: You’re sitting in traffic, behind a delivery truck, when that same type of digital display flashes before you: “AMBER ALERT!” On it, a boy and his abductor, along with a description of the vehicle. You notice his car only one lane up and call the police.

Welcome to the digital world of today, where privacy data is protected and you’re provided with in-the-moment intel, updates and experiences.

Data + Display = Direct Communication

My two examples, out of millions, show how smart, connected cities can make the world smarter by making life better for its citizens, and this depends on the rapidly developing synergy that exists between big data and smart display technology.

Sensor technologies have become ubiquitous in cities across the globe, providing raw data on things like energy use, foot and vehicle traffic, and pollution levels that can readily be analyzed to provide officials with actionable insight. As sensors proliferate, smart cities will integrate the various streams of information coming their way to give city planners and leaders a holistic, data-driven picture of life in the city.

But, data gathering and analysis only take you so far. It’s when you find valuable ways to disseminate the targeted data to citizens that smart cities come into their own. It’s one thing to pick up an incoming weather system; it’s quite another to track its course and transmit real-time, targeted information to the folks in its path. It’s one thing to report a child abduction; it’s another to get the data from 911 to the ears and eyeballs of the citizens positioned to take immediate action.

Whether it’s real-time weather or real-time danger, you need smart, interconnected displays that know where you are as well as who (from an anonymized standpoint) and what is in front of you. This provides businesses and government agencies with a direct path to the ears that need to hear them.

More Than Media

As the founder of a startup that connects big data and smart sensor arrays, and a veteran in automotive and mobility spaces, building smarter cities is something I’m both passionate about and very familiar with. I’m building a company that’s bringing mobility and smarter datafication together. I’m watching the world’s biggest companies invest in this innovative way to reach customers and drive value.

While profit is exciting, I’m driven by the potential for rich ecosystems of data to be analyzed, utilized and deployed in real time to inform, educate and warn our world’s citizens. It’s not about selling ad space; it’s about providing a conduit for information to flow to the people who need it most.

Consider how this might work if we were to face another pandemic: Covid-19 has been devastating for the world economy, in large part because of the wide-scale lockdowns used to slow the spread. But, what if we could achieve the public health benefits of a lockdown without paying so high an economic price, especially in cities like Berlin or New York? As several researchers have shown, a more targeted, data-driven approach to lockdowns would allow public officials to cordon off viral “hot spots” instead of shutting down an entire city.

A targeted approach to dealing with a pandemic depends very much upon data gathering/analysis and communication. If you’re going to effectively shut down an area, leaders need to be able to communicate with those impacted and blanket that area with communication.

Of course, nothing of high value and utility comes without challenges. Innovation is all about overcoming them. A primary obstacle is honoring the fundamental right to privacy, such as by adhering to Europe’s stringent GDPR privacy guidelines. Another one is changing people’s perception of immediate, pressing information so that it spurs positive, healthy action instead of panic or irrational behavior. A third and intriguing challenge is how to blend brand messaging and actionable information into the fabric of our environments in an aesthetically appealing manner, to augment instead of detract from our enjoyment of our surroundings.

Not only are these challenges surmountable, but by refining the technology and the implementation to account for these challenges, we make the overall positive outcomes that much more powerful. Invention for the sake of common good is always a process worth undertaking.

Improving Cities And Citizens’ Lives

In Moscow, sensors, cameras and smart traffic lights are all being used to alleviate the city’s notorious traffic problem. A government-supplied app synthesizes sensor data to suggest optimal routes and available parking. The entire initiative has improved Moscow’s standing in the world congestion index, increased average travel speed by 13% and reduced time spent looking for parking. The same program could be expanded to both static and vehicle-mounted displays placed around a city.

While this is just one example of how data and displays will smarten up cities, its application can extend far beyond traffic lights to a range of civil projects:

  • Shopping: Cities can increase foot traffic in commercial districts by using adjacent displays to direct traffic to special events, pop-up stores, flash sales, etc.
  • Pollution: Government officials can monitor pollution levels, inform nearby citizens and enact target mitigation protocols.
  • Crime: Nearby displays can alert passersby to criminal activity or violence in progress, advising them to steer clear of a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Civic Engagement: Displays can provide up-to-date poll information (location, hours, wait times) on election days to encourage more voter participation.

Conclusion

We’re only beginning to imagine the possibilities that exist when cities fully unfold the capabilities of a smart city approach. The examples I’ve described barely scratch the surface. As digital out-of-home marketing and programmatic data companies drive the future with new technologies, I fully expect leaders and citizens to get on board to create the smart, innovative cities of tomorrow.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Dr. Alexander N. Jablovski

Quelle/Source: Forbes, 05.08.2021

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