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The term “smart city” might bring to mind images from The Jetsons, maybe flying cars and robots serving humans. And while that’s possible, cities are getting smarter right now in very practical and useful ways. Building a smart city is about its citizens and how their lives can continuously be improved through data and incremental change.

“The ultimate goal is very simple: Can we use the combination of innovative thinking, the right technology solution, the right policy making, and the right decision framework to ultimately improve the quality of life for the citizens. Smart cities are not about smartness. It’s about a better life for the citizens.”

Meet Sameer Sharma, General Manager of Smart Cities and Intelligent Transportation at Intel. He leads a global team that works to drive new IoT growth categories and revenue streams for Smart City Services. In this episode of IT Visionaries, Sameer defines the term smart city, and how cities can harness the massive amounts of data they produce. Plus he  provides some case studies for what cities such as Singapore and New York are doing to increase the quality of life for their citizens. And Sameer also pinpoints key areas that cities that wish to take the next step in their smart city journey must identify in order to reach their goals.

Main Takeaways

  • Johnny (Data) Tsunami: We are in the midst of a data tsunami, and how cities manage the massive amounts of data they collect on a daily basis has never been more critical to the future of those cities than it is today. By understanding the insights data provide, cities can advance things like traffic patterns, infrastructure, and other areas of everyday life that affect citizens. 
  • Think Big, But Start Small: City planners and policymakers should always be thinking about the next big project when it comes to improving their citizens’ lives. But while you should always be thinking big, you have to start small. Begin by thinking about how you are managing your networks, and this begins and ends with edge computing. How is your data being transferred back-and-forth? Are you deploying any form of edge computing? Start by answering those questions first because cities that lack that basic tech won’t have the infrastructure to solve many of their problems at the scale they need to.
  • Changing Tide: Previously, CIOS were solely responsible for advancing and implementing technology. Things are different now, even at a city-wide level. Technology is not siloed in the way that it used to be, and with so many more people affected by all forms of technology, everyone needs to have a seat at the table.

 

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Article

The term “smart city” might bring to mind images from The Jetsons, maybe flying cars and robots serving humans. And while that’s possible, cities are getting smarter right now in very practical and useful ways. Building a smart city is about its citizens and how their lives can continuously be improved through data and incremental change.

“The ultimate goal is very simple: Can we use the combination of innovative thinking, the right technology solution, the right policy making, and the right decision framework to ultimately improve the quality of life for the citizens,” Sameer Sharma said. “Smart cities are not about smartness. It’s about a better life for the citizens.”

Sharma is the General Manager of Smart Cities and Intelligent Transportation at Intel, and he leads a global team that works to drive new IoT growth categories and revenue streams for Smart City Services. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Sharma breaks down what defines a smart city, and everything that goes into how cities can harness the massive amounts of data they take in. Plus he  provides some case studies for what cities such as Singapore and New York City are doing to increase the quality of life for their citizens. And Sameer also pinpoints key areas that cities that wish to take the next step in their smart city journey must identify in order to reach the ultimate goal.

From a historical perspective, Intel has focused its attention on computers and optimizing their efficiency, but over the last few years the company has made a shift from being a PC-centric enterprise to a data center company, where they can analyze, store and transmit data.

We want to make sure that we have the best computing solutions through our partners in terms of how it relates to the work in smart cities,” Sharma said. “If you look globally, about three million people are moving into urban areas every week. That’s [roughly] the population of Chicago. So as a global community, we are creating about 50 Chicagos every year. And this trend is only accelerating.”

Sharma said that if you think about the number of devices, and the massive amounts of data that cities generate on a daily basis, the estimates can be a tad overwhelming. 

“Our estimate is this year cities will generate about 16.5 zettabytes of data,” he said. “Everything from public safety cameras, to traffic intersections, to parking meters, to information about energy consumption in a city. If the cup of coffee that I just had after lunch represents one gigabyte. This is enough coffee to fill up the entire Great Wall of China. It is the amount of data on 250 billion DVDs.”

The truth is, that while all this data is being collected, the vast majority of cities don’t have the requisite infrastructure to store and utilize this data ini ways that can lead to real change.

“We are in the middle of this data tsunami,” Sharma said. “We know one thing about data; It’s not just about the data, it’s about the insights you can learn from it and the actions you can take. We’ve got to harness the data and that’s where Intel’s entire portfolio from the edge, to the network, to the cloud, comes in. And it’s my team’s job to make sure we stitch all those assets together in a nice cohesive narrative for our partners and the end users.” 

Sharma’s team focuses their efforts on three key categories: public safety, which includes the fundamental need for citizens to feel safe. Mobility, how citizens move about the city and the infrastructure around the area to transport them, and lastly sustainability, which might be the most important of those three distinctions. 

“It’s important to have these teams because from a technology perspective, while we need to hyper customize the needs and the solutions for a given city, we have to find scale at the technology level because when you find scale, we are able to reduce the cost to make these solutions more affordable,” he said. “That virtuous cycle of cheaper solutions will create more demand, and more demand will result in more results, and therefore more need for solutions.”

Some of those solutions include how cities such as Singapore and New York City are attacking recents initiatives in an effort to limit the health and safety risks for their citizens. In Singapore, where 80% of the population lives in government-funded housing, the city took it upon itself to ease the way senior citizens received simple things such as medication. 

“They decided to create a smart kiosk with facial recognition capability,” Sharma said. “So this older person can come down from the building, get authenticated, their medicine refill drops down, they pick it up and they go back to their house. Now think about what that does in terms of minimizing the exposure to somebody who’s older and having them take public transit and go to a doctor. It helps save their investment in how many doctors they need to hire. It reduces the strain on their public transit. And most importantly, it makes for a better experience for this older citizen.”

While some cities are stepping up, Sharma stressed that the important thing to remember is that a city’s ability to take the next step when it comes to how it deploys technology must be a partnership between a company and the city itself.

“It’s got to be a partnership,” Sharma said.” It takes a village to move this forward and you’ve got to have the push, but you also got to have the pull. The cities where I’ve seen the best impact is where you have the city mayor, you’ve got the city CIO, you’ve got the right leadership coming in and saying, ‘Hey, I want to make an impact,’ but they’re not trying to do it all on their own…The thing I always tell my stakeholders is you’ve you’ve got to think big, but start small.”

One of the best ways to start and perhaps the biggest differentiator, according to Sharma, is to focus your attention on your infrastructure, and that begins with how much edge computing you have.

“How much computing capability you have at the point where the action is happening [is key],” he said. “Whether it’s a camera, or a sensor detecting something, how much are you relying on sending the data back over the network to the cloud? Because when you do that, when you send everything back to the cloud and wait for a decision, you’ve got an implied latency in the network. That is always something you can see. You cannot always assume connectivity and it is very important that you are able to keep the data secure as you’re doing this back-and-forth… But for everything that’s real time, that’s latency sensitive, that’s time sensitive.”

To hear more about how cities are laying the groundwork for future advancements and how Sharma and his team are helping, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

 

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