Smart Cities and Infrastructure : Secure, Sustainable Smart Cities and the IoT

By Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

If you think your city is crowded now, just wait. The United Nations believes that in 2050, there will be 9.6 billion people on the planet, and more than 66% of them will live in urban areas. That kind of population growth will put huge pressure on metropolitan areas to manage resources efficiently and supply their citizens with what they need to thrive and survive – which is why our cities must get smarter.

Smart Cities aren’t just a concept or a dream of the future. A smart city is a framework, predominantly composed of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), to develop, deploy, and promote sustainable development practices to address growing urbanization challenges. Citizens engage with smart city ecosystems in a variety of ways using smartphones and mobile devices, as well as connected cars and homes. Pairing devices and data with a city’s physical infrastructure and services can cut costs and improve sustainability.

Communities can improve energy distribution, streamline trash collection, decrease traffic congestion, and even improve air quality with help from the IoT.

  • Connected traffic lights receive data from sensors and cars adjusting light cadence and timing to respond to real-time traffic, thereby reducing road congestion.
  • Connected carscan communicate with parking meters and electric vehicle (EV) charging docks and direct drivers to the nearest available spot.
  • Smart garbage cans automatically send data to waste management companies and schedule pick-up as needed versus on a pre-planned schedule.
  • And citizens’ smartphone becomes their mobile driver’s license and ID card with digital credentials, which speeds and simplifies access to the city and local government services.

Together, these smart city technologies are optimizing infrastructure, mobility, public services, and utilities.

Why do we need smart cities: Urbanization is a non-ending phenomenon. Today, 54% of people worldwide live in cities, a proportion that’s expected to reach 66% by 2050. Combined with the overall population growth, urbanization will add another 2.5 billion people to cities over the next three decades. Environmental, social, and economic sustainability is a must to keep pace with this rapid expansion that is taxing our cities’ resources.

How is IoT technology making cities smarter and better: Secure wireless connectivity and IoT technology are transforming traditional elements of city life – like streetlights – into next-generation intelligent lighting platforms with expanded capabilities? The scope includes integrating solar power and connecting to a cloud-based central control system that connects to other assets in the ecosystem.

What makes smart cities successful

Wireless technology for smart cities: The first building block of any smart city application is reliable, pervasive wireless connectivity. While there’s no one-size-fits-all, evolving Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies are well suited to most smart city applications for their cost efficiency and ubiquity. These technologies include LTE Cat M, NB-IoT, LoRa, Bluetooth, and a few others that all contribute to the fabric of connected cities. The advent of 5G technology is expected to be a watershed event that propels smart city technology into the mainstream and accelerates new deployments.

Opening the data vault: a key enabler of sustainable smart cities is that all participants in the complex ecosystem share information and combine it with contextual data that is analyzed in real-time. This is how informed decisions are made in real-time.

Multiple sectors must cooperate to achieve better, sustainable outcomes through the analysis of real-time contextual information, which is shared among sector-specific information and operational technology (OT) systems.

Can smart cities be secured and trusted: Connected cameras, intelligent road systems, and public safety monitoring systems can provide an added layer of protection and emergency support to aide citizens when needed.

  • But what about protecting smart cities themselves from vulnerabilities?
  • How can we defend against hacking, cyber-attacks, and data theft?
  • In cities where multiple participants are sharing information, how do we trust that participants are who they say are?

All ecosystem partners – governments, enterprises, software providers, device manufacturers, energy providers, and network service providers – must do their part and integrate solutions that abide by four core security objectives i.e Availability, Integrity, Confidentiality and Accountability. To achieve these security core objectives, strong authentication and ID management solutions need to be integrated into the ecosystem to ensure that data is shared only with authorized parties.

How do we monetize smart cities: In the age of IoT and smart cities, data is the new oil.  For smart cities to thrive, we need to establish sustainable commerce models that facilitate the success of all ecosystem players. The software must be woven into the fabric of IoT solutions so that all ecosystem contributors benefit; this includes OEMs, developers, integrators, governments, etc. By leveraging pervasive connectivity, open data, end-to-end security, and software monetization solutions, we can align evolving smart city needs for a much-improved experience for all partners in the ecosystem.

Here are a few facts about how smart cities are using machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to build better environments for their residents.

  • Smart cities harness the ever-expanding mountain of digital data we generate 24 hours a day.
  • Smart cities collect data on things like energy consumption, traffic flows and even public Wi-Fi usage.
  • Some cities are using sensor-enabled devices to help monitor the environmental impact of cities by collecting details about sewers, air quality and garbage.
  • One of the successes of city data collection has been the introduction of smart meters that communicate our power consumption to utility companies.
  • Encryption is vital to data security.
  • IBM says 90% of the world’s data has been produced in just the past two years. And that means data scientists are hard at work figuring out what it all means – and how it can be put to best use.

How Smarter can it get?

No matter how advanced the city gets in terms of technology and machinery, it can be termed smart only if it could analyze, predict and incorporate things on its own. Well Artificial Intelligence and Internet of things are certainly the answer to this and would very much sustain to be successful in proving and making the infrastructure smarter and efficient. Let us have a look at some of the innovative smart city solutions which is adapted in various niches of the society.

Safety and Security Solutions

Whether in generation, transmission or distribution, utilities must protect their infrastructure, their property, and their personnel from vandalism, theft and malicious attacks. Traditional security measures have included access control, intrusion detection, and video surveillance. Now, thanks to continually accelerating advancement, the capabilities of today’s technologies to deter, detect, delay, assess, communicate and respond to physical and cyber security threats far surpass those of even a few years ago.

Energy Efficiency and Monitoring

Companies operating combined heat and power units or boiler systems can obtain quick and easy access to relevant system data via the Master Energy Control (MEC) Remote web portal. The data can be called up with any commercially available desktop PC or smartphone. The visualization of current operating values ensures that there is a comprehensive overview of the system, as well as convenient and cost-effective remote monitoring. MEC Remote also enables comprehensive remote support from Bosch service experts. For example, fault analyses or parameterization can be carried out quickly and efficiently. This results in optimized service costs and increased system availability.

Mobility and Fleet Management

Today’s telematics services offer fleet operators detailed real-time information for intelligent fleet management. The services allow them to reduce total costs per vehicle, schedule inspections and repairs more effectively, and manage vehicle capacity utilization more conveniently. This management process aims at greater transparency in terms of vehicle condition and servicing. The benefits such as scheduling of inspection and repairs reduces a lot of time and cost thereby increasing fleet productivity.

Building Connectivity and Automation

The Connected Building solution links together key building equipment inside commercial buildings. The software analyzes and interprets building data and transforms it into valuable information. It enables building owners and managers to remotely monitor and control their buildings along with infrastructure. It gradually enables new services for data driven business models and optimizes usage efficiency though space management. Predictive maintenance here too offers cost saving and higher efficiency.

E-Governance and Data Management

The central communication and integration platform links municipal and public services. It connects city and community stakeholders together with certain parts of the public infrastructure and other service providers. Today’s technology and workforce has the potential to turn scrap into gold and develop new smart city services even faster and secure than before. The data available is presented in a better way considering the community related information. Another important step could be the usage of mobile application which would provide real time information and services.

Electronic Mobility and Charging

The free charging apps allow drivers of electric vehicles to conveniently charge their cars using public charging infrastructure. Using the apps, you can locate and use just about any web-enabled public charging point. Electro mobility made easy, whenever and wherever you want. Through faster e-mobility, drivers can go online, search and reserve available charging. Moreover they get access to all public charging points on a given platform under a single contract making them barely think about the charging time and cost.

Climate Changes and Monitoring

The micro-climate monitoring system is a comprehensive air quality monitoring system that helps measure and evaluate the concentration of air pollutants in a specific region. Both, governments and industries, can leverage data metrics collected from the system to devise stringent air pollution control measures. Evaluation and prediction of current and future trends on ambient air pollution levels and Integration with real time safety and compliance tracking system.

Well adapted solutions mentioned above is still not feasible to many of the developing countries, Systematic approach and continuous development is efficiently the demand of the hour and the most important resource. Let us also have a look at some of the newest products in the market, which would necessarily bring the initial changes.

When can we really achieve it?

The next wave of the Industrial Revolution is driven by artificial intelligence and robotics, which would offer more scalable solutions than the ones we currently have. We now have a fresh start at responsibly managing our socio-political, economic and healthcare challenges. Workforces are also increasingly automated and robotized. Testing of delivery robots and drones is gathering pace beyond the warehouse gates. Automated control systems are monitoring, regulating and optimizing traffic flows. The suddenly prolific e-commerce culture in India has made it especially critical for the transportation and logistics industry to get things right with immediate effect.

Being a country, which is still dependent on non-renewable sources of energy, the petrol and diesel that fuels our vehicles also fuels our pollution levels. In India, electric vehicles are slowly gaining traction. Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Goa have been the first few states to work towards bringing electric vehicles on the road. This shows that we have a long journey to cover, but with dedicated approaches like an emerging self-reliant India could efficiently narrow the time factor and could achieve it in a very rapid pace.

Government of India has released a list of 20 smart cities out of the 98 shortlisted for the ‘Smart Cities Mission’ as first step towards redeveloping urban area. These 20 cities will be the first to receive funds, thus kick-starting the process of developing them into ‘smart cities’. The coming years will see the inclusion of 40 and 38 cities, respectively. Of the 98 cities and towns that five years down will graduate into smart cities, 24 are capital cities, another 24 are business and industrial centers, 18 are culture and tourism influenced areas, five are port cities and three are education and health care hubs making India stand in the list of smart countries with smart and profound characteristics.

By Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times

 

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