Leveraging Technology for the Next-Gen Smart City

Sudhindhra Holla

Life in the 21st century has changed rapidly. With the onset of the pandemic and work-from-home (WFH) culture, digitisation has quickly progressed in cities and towns. The government is using technology to optimise civic body operations, digitise civic services, ensuring a smarter lifestyle for the citizens, writes Sudhindhra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India & SAARC.

According to the National Commission on Population (NCP) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the urban population of India will rise from 377 million in 2011 to 594 million in 2036, showcasing a whopping growth of 39 percent. As population increases in urban cities, it becomes more complex to administer and ensure security to all citizens. Additionally, with the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown nationwide, adherence to social distancing norms and guidelines has also become critical. Thus, the government has realised the importance of leveraging technology to make cities smarter and safer. The command-and-control centres which were earlier used for traffic management are now being used to monitor citizens so that they adhere to the lockdown guidelines and to keep a check on waterlogging in the city during monsoons. Technology has been playing a key role to ensure a smarter way of living.

Also Read: 5 Things You Need to Know In 2022 About Smart Cities and IoT

Here are the four ways in which technology can enhance smart city security:

Ensuring public safety: The key priority of the modern city is to protect its residents and visitors. A planned network of video and audio surveillance systems aids city authorities to enforce laws for efficient city vigilance, ensuring citizen safety, and incident management. A smart city should also be prepared to tackle disasters and emergency situations, man-made or natural. Network cameras help in situational awareness and visual verification required during emergencies. To address any situation or vulnerability in the city, network audio solutions help authorities to issue live or scheduled announcements for immediate transmission of messages to ensure quicker action.

Maintaining a sustainable environment: For ensuring a liveable and safe environment, a city needs to have low health hazards. Factors aligned to our way of living which leads to climate change must be kept under check for a better tomorrow. Air and noise pollution, landfills, poor management of water bodies and industrial residues put the city under strain. Advanced technologies utilising sensor-based cameras can be used to monitor waste and water management and boost energy usage. Many cities are pledging goals such as adopting sustainable business practices, reducing carbon dioxide emissions to drive the shift towards ‘Green IoT’ for a sustainable future. Green IoT refers to the different ways in which IoT can be used to reduce the carbon footprint in applications and devices

Urban Mobility: With the continuous increase in population there is an increase in vehicles and road congestion. These are common challenges that smart cities face today. Traffic management, parking, public transportation and pedestrian mobility are some areas that require constant monitoring to minimise the risk of potential accidents. Strategic city planning aided with technology helps in congestion management. To predict outcomes and potential challenges before implementing changes in the city, ‘digital twins’ can be created to allow new models to be tested on city duplicates. Network video surveillance cameras powered by analytics can monitor public movement in specific areas and generate alarms for any guidance required

Also Read: Securing Cyberspace of Smart Cities

Cybersecurity: To ensure that a smart city is also a secure city, a data privacy framework must be in place to protect sensitive citizen data. With the increasing number of sophisticated cyberattacks, a comprehensive action plan is of utmost importance. A smart city relies on connected devices and driving efficiency is the key priority. Compliance with IT security guidelines and no backdoor policies must be ensured while planning the corporate network. A converged security approach with stakeholders working together will ensure a safe and secure city.

As technology continues to evolve, cities will need to adopt an agile approach in leveraging digital capabilities to align with the interests and requirements of the citizens. Spearheading innovation accompanied by disruptive solutions will enhance citizen services and place a pool of opportunities at disposal. A smart surveillance framework will ensure the transformation of the smart cities of tomorrow.