Council Post: Three Key Elements Of A Successful Smart City

Thiru Thangarathinam is the Founder and CEO of MST Solutions, Arizona’s largest Salesforce implementation partner.

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2050, the urban population is expected to reach 68%, according to the UN. That means that improving and optimizing city life is imperative, not only for the people who call places such as New York City, Tokyo and London home, but for the planet. Cities consume two-thirds of the world’s energy and create more than 70% of global carbon dioxide emissions, so they have a responsibility to be sustainable.

The best way for a city’s leaders to do that, while improving the lives of its residents and creating further economic opportunities, is creating the infrastructure and implementing technology to become smart cities. Smart cities rely on an intricate web of internet-connected devices as well as an engaged community.

CB Insights puts it well with its description of smart cities, which it predicts to be a $1.4 trillion market within the next six years: “A city is considered to be ‘smart’ when it can collect and analyze mass quantities of data from a wide variety of industries, from urban planning to garbage collection. In a smart city, a complex network of interconnected sensors, devices, and software must be built and maintained. This should allow the city to become a more sustainable and efficient environment for its residents.”

Several examples of smart cities in action are residents using apps to plan their trips around traffic or train delays, administrators gleaning traffic patterns and then changing traffic lights or roads, utilities dimming lights when people aren’t around or tapping into solar and thermal power, sanitation departments utilizing sensors in trash receptacles to adjust pickup schedules, as well as city authorities detecting water leaks and monitoring buildings and the environment.

To put it simply, smart cities deploy technology and make use of data to inform decisions and ultimately achieve a better quality of life for residents.

Saving time on your commute is great — an average of 15 to 30 minutes per day in a smart city, according to a McKinsey report — but the benefits of smart cities are much more significant.

In smart cities, the McKinsey report notes, it’s projected that employment rates go up 1% to 3% while living expenses drop by 1% to 3%, water consumption decreases 20% to 30%, greenhouse emissions are reduced by 10% to 15% and unrecycled waste decreases by 10% to 20%. Additionally, disease rates decline by 8% to 15%, emergency response time drops 20% to 35% and even crime declines 30% to 40%.

ABI Research predicts an estimated $5 trillion per year could be saved by governments, enterprises and citizens throughout an aggregated 75 smart cities by 2022. But the research also points out that cities will first have to invest significantly in technology projects.

Smart cities will also build deeper connections between government officials and citizens by giving residents tools to communicate their concerns and officials the means to actively listen.

Smart city infrastructure has to be intelligent and utilize cognitive technologies, including AI and machine learning, to study the continuous interactions of a city’s citizens and their surroundings. This is where a customer relationship management (CRM) solution comes in. It will serve as a centralized hub of all data and, most importantly, put the citizens at the center of it all.

While we need connected smart devices, such as smartphones and sensors, a CRM will serve as a centralized hub for applications and all data collected through these devices.

As the McKinsey report notes, “After a decade of trial and error, municipal leaders are realizing that smart city strategies start with people, not technology. ‘Smartness’ is not just installing digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure or streamlining city operations. It is about using technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life.”

1. Strong technology at the core, which will include a critical mass of smartphones, sensors and open data portals.

3. Public adoption. Any new technologies introduced must be thoughtfully designed to encourage mass adoption, and a layer of change management must be baked into these technologies.

Applied in the context of a smart city, a CRM will bring governments together more seamlessly and encourage collaboration and efficiency in a data-driven way. In that vein, a smart city CRM should:

CB Insights summed up what a successful smart city should look like: “Over time, a successful smart city should, in theory, be able to respond to incoming data much like a single intelligent organism, seamlessly and efficiently providing itself with exactly what the city and its citizens need, without wasting any resources and without any human error.”

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Post time: Nov-18-2019
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