The Road to Smart Cities: Big Data

Author: P.C. Kiran, AVP of Engineering, Impetus Infotech (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Information and Communication Technology has become a foremost importance in every sphere of progress and development. That advantages that information technology provides have made its inclusion essential to infrastructure and public life. IT has introduced many features that make life easier and more comfortable. Enhanced communication technology and easy access to information are the fundamental advantages offered by Information Technology. These two aspects have changed the face of modern development. The recent transition of cities to smart cities is another contribution of IT. One of the intriguing outcomes of technological development, especially IT, is the massive and ever growing bulk of information. Amount of digital data will grow from 3.2 zetta bytes to 40 Zetta bytes within only six years.  (One zettabyte is roughly a billion terabytes)

Studies have suggested that data volume in enterprises will grow at the rate of 50X year-over-year until 2020. This increasing bulk is posing a serious threat to existing technology, which is proven inadequate to process the data. Another important aspect is, more than 85% of total data volume is emerging from new data sources. This particular factor is triggered by trends such as IoT. Research firm IDC has predicted that by 2020, 28.1 billion more devices will be introduced. Hence, processing technology and identification of data will be emerging as the complexity of Big Data.

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Role of Big Data in Smart Cities

The role Big Data is fundamental in smart cities. Management of public amenities and services in such cities requires a strong technology infrastructure. Big Data will enable implementing a number of systems and features that will support the ‘smart’ aspects of these cities. To enhance quality of public services and amenities, monitoring and security are basic requirements. These depend entirely on generation of information and utilizing the data for further processing. Information generated by smart devices utilized in general amenities such as water supply, electrical distribution systems or public transportation must be utilized and managed efficiently. Feedback information systems and platforms dedicated to public issues and grievances is another aspect in Smart Cities, which can be enhanced by utilizing Big Data. Big data resources can be utilized to analyze trends in consumption of power by public in entertainment such as TV and music systems. Big data can play a critical role for efficient management of resource such as electric power.

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Achieving the best out of Big Data

IoT of smart cities must be handled efficiently in order to offer an improved quality of life. Monitoring public services and amenities will be one of the crucial aspects of Big Data. This requires an interconnected system between the governing public authorities and technology providers. The objective of such systems is not only to provide smart access to public services but also to create a sustainable infrastructure. The system should be such that it prevents data leakage and malicious entities that corrupts information.

As Big Data requires large storage and improved technology for efficient processing, bringing these massive data sets under the ambit of single authority could jeopardize the process. This would cause unexpected glitches in public service. An effective sideway for this would be dividing the authority to handle specific areas. Processes and responsibilities must be dispersed among dedicated entities to manage generated information. The best approach to this would be to entrust particular areas, wards or societies within the cities under different entities such as Big Data companies or dedicated government agencies. This will ensure correct unitization of resources and intensive monitoring. Further, dividing the engagement between entities will induce a competitive edge, which would in return, foster better services.

To provide efficient services in Smart Cities, a number of correlated sources of information should be brought under a common platform and data from such sources should be processed simultaneously. Technologically, this is challenging, as big data analytics and applications are not developed enough for real time processing of large data sets. In this backdrop, leveraging information from specific sources would be more effective. Instead of targeting many sources, emphasis must be on a number of imperative sources of information, which are more crucial to public life.

Basic facets such as security and services such as transportation and management of power supply should be prioritized rather than emphasizing on luxury-oriented services. The intricate relationship between such aspects must be evaluated by real time data sets. For instance, the power management and emergency health services have an intricate correlation. Using the information, electricity can be managed more efficiently to ensure power in health related emergency services.

Integrating Platforms for Data Exchange in Smart Cities

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Social media plays a major role to bring out public issues. As the populace is becoming more connected to the web sphere through devices, it is easy to access information related to public issues through social media platform. The challenge is to utilize real time data from such sources to address these issues quickly. This call for a concrete infrastructure aided by big data technology, which connects grievance issues to related departments quickly and facilitate active management. Big data platforms can assist public security massively.

An efficient integration of IoT, public monitoring devices and devices installed in private premises can act as an intricate infrastructure for public security. Real time processing of data from monitoring devices such as security cameras in public places, ATMs, and venerable areas can effectively resist crimes other grievous offences. Individual alarm systems in private residences can be installed connecting private homes to police stations or medical centers automatically.

Amenities that can be induced by IoT and Big Data are numerous in Smart Cities. However, the technology must be utilized with proper insight. Authorities must be open to implement innovative ideas and judge them with priority to public wellbeing. Only an accurate juxtaposition of physical and technological infrastructure can divulge a successful creation of such habitats. Technology infrastructure in smart cities is all about IoT, Internet of Things, the connecting layer between physical and digital domain. Thus, leveraging and managing Big Data is crucial to transition of cities to smart cities.

Disclaimer: This is a guest post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamWire and the editor(s).

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