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Data: the powerhouse behind smart cities June 14, 2019 | Gunnar Peters, Sr. Director, Emerging Networks, Enterprise Data Product, Spectrum Enterprise

The array of technological advances in Internet-of-Things devices and sensors made in the last decade has sparked an immense number of opportunities for city governments to reshape every sector of their community. From public safety to traffic management to city lights, there is seemingly endless potential for government leaders to create a better living environment for its citizens. A recent report from McKinsey shows that smart city applications, delivered over a reliable technology infrastructure, can improve some key quality-of-life indicators (such as health, environmental quality, safety, cost of living, etc.) by 10 to 30 percent.

There’s no doubt of the need for smarter cities, but what’s the powerhouse actually fueling smart cities? The answer: data.

Data is the heart of a smart city. In fact, the whole idea of a smart city is more than just the technological aspect—it’s ultimately about leveraging the data a city already has in its arsenal and the additional data it can leverage from smart city solutions.

Benefits of data-powered cities

Here are just a few areas where data can benefit government leaders and citizens alike:

  • More energy efficient: Light posts can be fitted with a wide variety of devices and sensors to collect data on energy usage, or track activity nearby, triggering the lights to dim or brighten as needed, ultimately reducing energy costs.
  • Shorter commute times: Intelligent traffic management solutions can help cities shorten commute times by collecting and analyzing traffic data from a variety of different sources. This allows government leaders to make smarter decisions about how to modify bus routes, or where to install traffic signals, turn lanes, or bike lanes for improved traffic flow.
  • Superior emergency response: Deploying drones ahead of first responders can capture data in real-time and inform responders of the situation that lies in front of them so they can monitor rapidly evolving situations and be prepared to take action as soon as they arrive on scene.

How to harness the power of data

Internet of Things (IoT) devices can collect data throughout the city from different sources—if government leaders work with the right partner to leverage a reliable technology infrastructure.

To that regard, leaders in municipal governments examine existing infrastructure like light poles. That’s right, these are no longer humdrum parts of a region’s infrastructure, but they offer the potential to provide useful data that can make city operations more efficient, cost friendly, and their citizens’ lives better and safer.

By working with the right partner to leverage the street light infrastructure, government leaders can actually create a technology infrastructure of sensors and devices connected by a reliable network. Once this foundation is established, it can expand to numerous other smart city projects like traffic management, public safety and more.

Data: a powerful asset

These benefits only scratch the surface for what can be accomplished in smart cities when it’s powered by high-quality data. It’s not necessarily easy to fulfill the potential that technology has to improve city operations and the general wellbeing of the public, but the opportunity is there for the taking.

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