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Thursday, 30.05.2024
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

Back when we first wrote this collection of smart city trends, it was amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The general sentiment at the time was that shut-down had put many smart city plans on hold. We all recall hearing about the inevitable rise in self-driving cars. Some experts were even predicting, as outlandishly futuristic as it might sound, flying cars. But our dreams of living in Back to the Future II were put on hold when the health crisis caused cities to re-evaluate their infrastructure plans.

However, despite our general lack of hover-crafts, the pandemic did not kill the smart city dream. On the contrary, many cities pursued other less overtly dramatic smart city initiatives in part because of the pandemic. After all, the smartest cities know that a digitally connected community is just as much about promoting public health and safety, improving emergency response, and effective analytics as it is about transportation and sustainability. They also know that in the long run a smart city saves more than it costs.

So, what smart city applications are on the horizon? How might they save cities money? And where exactly is my floating DeLorean?

Real-Time Monitoring

This may sound as simple as having live security streams, and it certainly could be, but real-time monitoring is so much more than your Ring doorbell. In fact, real-time monitoring use cases for smart cities are practically endless as cities use them to track everything from air quality to light levels. As real-time data delivery becomes increasingly more reliable, these use cases continue to explode. Let’s break down some of the most interesting and effective real-time monitoring use cases and how they contribute to the bigger smart city picture.

Traffic Management

Before you get your hopes up, we are still going to be driving on our own four wheels for some time. But we’ll be doing so in a transit system that has traffic management and safety down to a digital art.

Many cities have started using live video streaming to analyze and interpret traffic levels across sectors, thereby optimizing traffic and transit systems for efficiency and safety. Many municipalities already open certain roads to different traffic types, like cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists, depending on the day or time of day. Live video makes it possible to do this more dynamically in response to real-time updates in traffic patterns.

This sort of monitoring can also be paired with other smart city advancements. Traffic monitoring can direct self-driving vehicles to the best route. Live data on available electric vehicle charging stations or a hub’s current stock of electric scooters helps keep residents moving through the city without delays. Smart parking detection can help drivers safely and efficiently locate actively available parking. Finally, with the advent of AI and machine vision in video, traffic monitoring can bolster smart public safety efforts through license plate, speed, and accident detection.

Waste and Water

Live monitoring systems can also be used for waste management. Barcelona uses a smart bin system to monitor trash levels and vacuum trash into an underground storage facility for removal. This eliminates the need for garbage trucks, which are smelly and potentially dangerous.

This same technology can also help in monitoring and improving water quality and wastewater treatment efforts. Many cities currently use data gathered from water and wastewater systems to analyze water quality. Additionally, these monitoring systems can warn cities about flooding zones and times, bolstering disaster preparedness, which I touch on a little later.

But isn’t this sort of monitoring fairly typical of wastewater management?

While the presence of data collection and analytics is old news, the innovative ways in which this technology has been developed to be more nuanced is not. Basically, the real innovation here is the ease with which the data is collected and the effectiveness with which it is saving cities cash, energy, and water. Just look at the smart irrigation systems in your local park – huge money and environmental savers that still manage to keep your green spaces green.

Weather Monitoring

Effective weather monitoring relies on real-time data to send up to the minute information to researchers and cities alike. Data measured this way includes a wide range of atmospheric and soil conditions, including temperature, moisture, light, and soil conductivity. Weather monitoring stations use instruments and sensors that collect and convey data in real-time, making it easier for researchers to identify anomalies that could indicate extreme weather on the horizon. This is an essential cog in the disaster preparedness and emergency response machines.

As this technology continues to evolve, many cities are using AI and satellite imagery to create even more precise air temperature models. With real-time AI analytics at our fingertips, our ability to monitor weather could be in for some unprecedented strides.

Election Monitoring

Hurricanes aren’t the only things we want to keep an eye on. With another major election year upon us in 2024, the topic of election monitoring and surveillance is particularly relevant.

As we become increasingly more connected, it also becomes increasingly harder to protect personal data – a subject we touch on in more detail below.The significance of this when it comes to election monitoring and security can’t be overstated. It’s essential that in-person voting locations have highly secure monitoring in place to prevent election fraud while also protecting voter privacy.

Election surveillance demands not only an additional degree of security but also additional reliability. In person voting is timely and monitoring failures could have catastrophic consequences. Thankfully, advances in real-time streaming technology make it easier to handle high quality live video monitoring from multiple locations without failing. RTSP to WebRTC workflows, for example, could ensure mutli-stream monitoring efforts from onsite IP cameras as ultra fast as they are secure.

Public Safety

Cities have started investing more in live streaming to assist first responders. Some have developed hyperlocal hubs that aggregate and analyze incoming data before sending out alerts to police. This helps officers know where to go and provides situational awareness. The same idea has been implemented in other cities for public health, communicating with hospitals and EMTs rather than police. For instance, companies like Carbyne use live streams to connect 911 callers with dispatchers and medics, thereby closing the communication gap in emergencies.

Resiliency

When it comes to smart cities, resiliency refers to a city’s ability to maintain services and systems in the face of unexpected events. Cities have been focusing more on building more resilient systems in particular since the early have of 2020, when the pandemic caused services in many cities to shut down entirely. This hard push for more resilient systems partly includes appointing Chief Resilience Officers to drive these efforts. But it more directly involves system digitization, which is where real-time surveillance factors in.

In this section, we’ll focus more on the broader systems that real-time technology can support and how they can work in concert to keep a city running. In other words, imagine that your (flying?) car can broadcast its location, speed, dashcam footage, and more. Now imagine that information can be used to improve emergency and traffic rerouting in the face of a flood, fire, or severe accident. Resiliency is how we put real-time data to good use.

Disaster Preparedness and Response

While we are on the subject of floods and fires, let’s harken back to our bit about weather monitoring. All of that real-time data flowing in not only lets cities know when concerning weather patterns are indicating a larger issue, but they also help these cities better plan far in advance.

The best way to plan so far in advance is by making data as real-time as possible. Imagine a web of servers spread out across a city. Which server tracks, collects, and processes data is the one physically closest to the data source. This is called edge computing and is a vital component of truly real-time data collection and analysis. It’s also a key feature in content delivery networks (CDNs), which are known for their security and reliability.

Digitalization and Digitization

Of course, the real lynch-pin behind smart city resiliency is digitalization and digitization. In other words, data and processes that were once manual or paper-based are becoming virtual. This phenomenon is prevalent across industries, although municipalities and other public organizations have historically been late to the digital party – at least until recent years. The COVID-19 shutdown saw closures at the Department of Motor Vehicle, Social Security, and Clerk and Recorder offices, among others. Governments have been forced to catch up.

It’s now possible to get married via mail, get a new passport by filling out an online application, and even get a replacement Social Security card online. All of these services — at least here in Colorado — used to require spending hours in waiting rooms and meeting with government employees. Now we can take care of this business without ever leaving our homes, sometimes with the aid of a virtual appointment.

Cities aren’t just putting time and effort into the digitalization of services for their residents. This trend is also benefitting city agencies themselves. Moving systems online comes with some obvious perks, such as saving time and paper. Additionally, this allows government systems to use AI and ML technologies, as well as robotic process automation. Basically, many tasks will be delegated to a software “robot” to complete, freeing up staff to work on more nuanced needs.

Artificial Intelligence

Alongside digitization is the potential that artificial intelligence (AI) has for efficiency, effectiveness, and by extension, cost savings. AI analytics can be used to support smart city planning. In other words, these analytics can tell city planners how to maximize safety and efficiency. It can also be paired with the creation of “digital twins” or virtual representations of physical structures and systems. These digital twins are used to create digital renderings of buildings, traffic systems, and even entire cities. While these digital twins are useful in a variety of ways, they are particularly useful when paired with AI analytics in running test scenarios for emergency response, weather preparedness, and more.

AI also pairs well with drones and traffic cameras. Some cities have been using AI powered drones for environmental monitoring and management, including using them to monitor landfills for trash levels and toxicity. Others rely on AI-enabled face or license plate recognition for traffic and other law enforcement.

Sustainability

AI analytics and streaming data also open the door to improved sustainability in a variety of sectors. More sustainable cities are a natural extension of more efficient ones, as operational efficiency extends to energy efficiency. And while we may not have flying cars, we certainly have intelligent ones. Traffic and emissions data from these smart cars combined with real-time traffic monitoring can help create more environmentally friendly transportation infrastructure.

Security and Privacy

With more digitalized and connected cities comes more Internet of Things (IoT) devices and networks, and with these come added vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, many cities have yet to really invest in cybersecurity and attackers are aware of this. Since 2019, cities like Baltimore, New Orleans, and multiple cities in Florida have fallen prey to cyber-attacks. What’s more, In 2021, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted that as much as 20% of local government devices would be compromised that year due to these vulnerabilities. As a result of these threats, cities finally started rising to the challenge, increasing cybersecurity budgets and forming coalitions against paying ransoms on ransomware attacks.

Of course, not every threat presented by increased digitalization and surveillance is as overtly nefarious. Another potential side effect of a more connected city is reduced privacy. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found that “176 countries globally are actively using AI technologies for surveillance purposes.” Cities must be careful that the incredible real-time monitoring systems they develop have privacy considerations built in.

5G

As an honorable mention, let’s revisit 5G technology – although at this point it’s hardly news. The faster speeds, lower latency, and improved reliability of 5G make it a must-have for cities worldwide. If 2020 had gone differently, we would probably already be reaping the benefits. While many efforts to install 5G cells have been slowed, they are not stalled. This innovation is still number one on many cities’ to-do lists.

Conclusion: Invest Now to Save Later

The word unprecedented has certainly been overused lately. Nevertheless, it’s a fitting description for both the hurdles and strides in the smart city industry during 2020 and beyond. Cities faced massive budget deficits, new urgent needs from residents, and burnt-out staff. Through all of that, they managed to sprint through long-neglected digitalization projects.

Like many of us, city leadership has put a renewed emphasis on increasing connectivity, and they’re utilizing live streaming to achieve this. The global smart cities market is projected, by one source, to grow to around $651.2 billion USD by 2031, suggesting a growth rate of some 6.82%. Another source takes a more aggressive growth stance, suggesting a growth rate of 15.2% from 2023 to 2028, ultimately reaching $1,114.4 billion USD. In either case, the message is clear. Cities are investing in smart city technology. With the right backing comes the right infrastructure, and with that the sky’s the limit (hopefully literally).

Marty McFly would be proud.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Sydney Roy (Whalen)

Quelle/Source: wowza, 20.01.2024

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