Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Short History on the Smart City Concept

The beginnings of collected data 

The need for the organized collection of data for municipal management and realization of city projects to assist in development accelerated with the tremendous growth of major cities and industrial areas in the aftermath of World War II. The rapid growth of post-World War urbanization and massive rebuilding schemes for devastated areas in Europe. Spawned new ideas for utopian style cities where mass transportation for the rapid movement of the employees from the new "baby-boom" suburbs to hubs of business and employment in the "urban sprawl" became a necessity.

With the increase in size of metropolitan areas, management of the three critical infrastructure areas for a modern city: energy, water and waste became more critical for the proper function of a community and it's well-being.

The necessities of a true world war, a war fought on a massive scale, gave birth to new data collection technologies which created the development of computers. In the beginning of the Cold-War, the need for a rapid means of exchange of ideas between scientists and thinkers in colleges gave birth to ARPANET the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network was an early packet switching network and the first network to implement the protocol suite TCP/IP. These two technologies became the technical foundation of the Internet.
This new-found know-how and faith in machines translated, in part, to an interest in computer-assisted social analysis, thanks to the availability of both mainframe computers and large federal grants during the Cold War. Social scientists in particular were interested in exploring the possibilities that data and computers could bring to public policy, as were city planners and architects.
In A Second Modernism: MIT, Architecture and the ‘Techno-Social’ Moment, Arindam Dutta writes that for them, “the emphasis on assembling, collating, and processing larger and larger amounts of data” was “paramount in the postwar framing of expertise.”
These two major technologies: computers and the wide use of internet and World Wide Web, have revolutionized mankind. Open data or open information has further accelerated the need for the collection and analysis of data to further advancements. The efficient management and analysis data have become important tools for the government to create greater transparency and accountability, increase citizen engagement, and drive innovation and economic opportunities.

What is a "Smart City"?: 

Mark Deakin and Husam Al Wear in their research paper; "From intelligent to smart cities", for CIB - the acronym of the abbreviated French (former) name: "Conseil International du Bâtiment" (in English this is: International Council for Building) listed four factors that contribute to the definition of a "smart city":
·         The application of a wide range of electronic and digital technologies to communities and cities:
·         The use of Communications Technologies (ICT) to transform life and working environments within the region
·         The embedding of such Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in government management systems
·         The “territorialization” of practices that brings ICTs and people together to enhance the innovation and knowledge that they offer.

The need for Innovative Teams and the Collection of Data

 There is a growing list of mayors today who are realizing that better use of information technology and data can help them govern cities more effectively. Whether you call the approach “smart cities,” “intelligent cities” or “digital cities, they wish to connect residents to city government and resources, and spur high-tech employment since the main goal of a "Smart City" is the use of technology to make things work better.
A municipality gains the ability to deliver results by its acceptance and creation of a culture of using its data assets., enhanced abilities to properly and efficiently access the information collected from archived municipal files, in various city department and from the public sector in a centralized data platform.
Because cities may have thousands of datasets across multiple servers, databases, and computers, it’s helpful to narrow down which datasets should be included in the inventory overall and how to plan for inventory updates in the future.
This collection of data from varied sources and departments is made possible by a thoroughly trained Municipal staff.  The Municipal Analytic Team then utilize the acquired data and analytic systems and processes to recommend and facilitate projects for the good of the constituents (residents).
“We know that using data and technology has the ability to improve the quality of lives of our residents, and I am proud of the work we have done, and we will continue our focus on bettering city services through new and innovative approaches.” Mayor of Boston Massachusetts, Martin J. Walsh
“Cities develop and mature in a diverse range of ways, reflecting differences in history, culture and geographic and economic environments. It is a great challenge to identify the common characteristics of Smart Cities in a global sense, however it is clear that essential elements of a city’s ‘smartness’ will depend on information and communication technologies (ICTs)."Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau
To become a "Resilient (antifragile) City" of the future, you need to first become an Innovative "Smart City". And to accomplish that first step you need to accumulate and analyze all your city wide departmental data by a Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). An Innovative Team must be comprised of individuals from the different discipline's is needed to digitize and centralize relevant information from staff-identified data categories as the nucleus of its database.
“Successful innovation depends as much on the ability to generate ideas as it does the capacity to execute them — and i-teams help cities do both since they don’t replace (existing staffers’) work — they unlock their innovation potential." Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor
Smart cities use both "predictive" and “prescriptive” analytics to identify patterns and forecast trends to provide an insight as to what will be especially valuable to city planners and local officials responsible for improving municipal services and responding to changing demands.

Local governments strive to represent and serve their constituents well. Data-driven metrics ensure that everyone is speaking the same language as they continue to solve problems efficiently. By publishing and tracking key metrics on an Open Data Dashboard, residents can respond accordingly by making their voices heard through direct feedback and voting at the polls. Here are the four main advantages:
  • Create goals based on the latest data uploaded to the system and reflected on the Open Data Dashboard across as many departmental or functional areas as needed
  • Use data applications to easily reflect fresh uploaded data with minimal human intervention.
  • Organize your goals from a single Open Data Dashboard that shows the status of all goals from a single view
  • Through the use of the Open Data Dashboard you can scale your performance program up or down as needed, expanding to additional areas, or by focusing on the top priorities for your government.
The presence of leadership is important for good governance and smart governance is the core of smart cities initiatives. Smart governance depends on the implementation of a smart governance infrastructure that should allow collaboration, data exchange, service integration and communication as well as be accountable, responsive and transparent.

Population growth, economic stress on resources, rapid urbanization is increasing strains on energy, transportation, water, buildings and public spaces.
Solutions for cities need to be found – solutions which are both ‘smart’, namely highly efficient and ‘sustainable’ while specifically generating economic prosperity and social well-being of the citizens.

1.Technological challenges, i.e. infrastructures
A smart city relies, on advanced analytics of data derived from integrated hardware, software, and network technologies which will provide ICT systems with real-time awareness of critical infrastructure components and services.
The integration of ICT with city infrastructure can enhance the management and functioning of the urban landscape of a city and offer a number of potential opportunities for improvement. 

2.Economical challenges, i.e high costs with high potential:
Over the next 20 years, cities around the world will invest as much as $41 trillion to upgrade their existing infrastructure.
The potential benefit from this investment will come from the addition of Smart City sensor networks of connected devices known as the IOT (Internet of Things) to collect data for analyses by Municipal DoIT (Department of Innovations and Technology) teams.
Though the astronomical figure is an estimate "Smart technology uses the Internet of Things to gather data, connect components across the city and impact multiple departments or services in order to improve people's quality of life.

3.Social challenges,i.e applications: Smart cities will have a direct impact on the quality of life of citizens. Smart Cities aim to foster more informed, educated, and participatory citizens who are as constituents have the power to change city administrators and leadership.

Traditionally this part of the equation has been neglected on the expense of understanding more technological and policy aspects of smart cities.
Smart cities initiatives allow the constituents of the city to participate in the governance and management of the city and become active users. If they are key players they may have the opportunity to engage with the initiative to the extent that they can influence the effort to be a success or a failure.

It is critical not to neglect the fact that city residents are not just individuals, but also as members of the voting communities and interest groups with their respective wants and needs within cities. Smart cities initiatives need to be sensitive in balancing the needs of various communities.
  • All levels of government are moving toward smarter infrastructures based on data and analytics, transparency, application of technology and greater connectivity.

  • Smart technology — and the data that it provides — helps to bring these departments together and ensure that everyone shares a common goal.

  • Cities should instead seek out technology that enhances their existing infrastructure.

  • To be truly smart, cities must optimize existing infrastructures and use technology to deliver better, faster and cheaper services – together.

  • Unlike stationary cameras, these trucks can offer a view of the entire city. Trucks outfitted with sensors have the ability to collect valuable data across the entire city ecosystem, from the department of transportation, to parks and recreation, to housing. This gets back to the importance of interconnectivity.

  • Anticipate community needs: "civic engagement" What if governments could take control with a more proactive approach?

City Data Portals and Dashboards

“Cities develop and mature in a diverse range of ways, reflecting differences in history, culture and geographic and economic environments. It is a great challenge to identify the common characteristics of Smart Cities in a global sense, however it is clear that essential elements of a city’s ‘smartness’ will depend on information and communication technologies (ICTs)."Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau
There’s no reason we can’t be as advanced, innovative, and efficient as the private sector or any other sector.” Chief Data Officer Brett Goldstein developer of Chicago’s WindyGrid
With the need for city efficiency and "real -time" data, several large cities have led the way by creating data portals for use not only as sources for other city departments but through open data policy to the constituents as well.
The city of Los Angeles has recently been awarded the first gold-level What Works Cities data certification for its platform DataLa, a designation which recognizes how cities incorporate data and evidence into governance. Los Angeles is setting the precedent in collecting and using data to make informed decisions when addressing city issues. As a basis, the city provides an open data portal that features 1,100 data sets, touching on everything from building permits to trash bin locations, and the city is also working on more specific initiatives through a partnership with the Data Science Federation.
DataLa publishes and maintains up-to-date, quality data that can be used by City staff, the public, and private partners. "Their approach is:
• To be the most open and transparent city in the US.
• Expand the use of data and analytics to streamline service delivery and drive innovation in all operational processes.
• Improve user experience across all digital services and assets."

"To reach our goals, we collaborate to:
• Maximize public benefit of all IoT and real-time data that is captured, stored, and verified.
• Design and operate IoT systems to protect the public, ensure the integrity of services, and promote resilience."

The city of Chicago has it's WindyGrid and OpenGrid, which provides three main functions for City staff: situational awareness and incident monitoring, historical data retrieval, and real-time advanced analytics.

The City of Pittsburgh’s Analytics and Strategy team was inspired in part by Chicago’s WindyGrid and they developed Burgh’s Eye View. Burgh’s Eye View is an application that they had built entirely internally as a “one stop shop” for residents and community groups to access and view the datasets that Pittsburgh has published on its regional open data platform. The new responsive web application allows the city’s residents, for the first time, to gain visual insight into a broad range of citywide and neighborhood data.
“The way you make data matter for people who aren’t data scientists is through visualization, and probably the most successful kind of visualization that exists is a map,” said Nick Hall, Open Data Services Engineer for Pittsburgh.
The city of Winnipeg in Canada has created "Peg" which is a:"community indicator system, tracking eight theme areas (basic needs, health, education & learning, social vitality, governance, built environment, economy, and natural environment).

Peg measures the health of the community by reporting on everything from the health of babies born in Winnipeg right through to how many of them graduate 18 years later. Peg tracks how much garbage is taken to the landfill and the use of public transit. The constituents of Winnipeg can learn how their life, their neighborhood and their city is changing – for the good and the bad. "Peg is a starting place for Winnipeg citizens, business owners and policy makers to learn the facts so they can lead change to create a better city for their children." 

Municipal Data platform

A Municipal Data platform enables City Managers and Mayors to extract maximum value from their available budgets as it provides real-time access for operational staff to the repository data, thereby providing department heads the ability to intervene or modify plans on the fly if circumstances require.
Through the use of a Municipal platform, in the form of an app on the cellphone, in conjunction with a receptive and well managed City Constituent Care call service  and Response center. A Municipality needs to have real-time access to collected Municipal data to allow incoming queries to be handled on-the-spot, thereby minimizing call-out costs and improving customer service levels.
Furthermore, the Municipal Platform can rapidly assimilate, assess and act on data thereby asserting to the constituents that the Municipality is listening and is responsive.

A Municipal platform is a framework that allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models. It is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage. Rather than rely on hardware to deliver high-availability, the library itself is designed to detect and handle failures at the application layer, so delivering a highly-available service on top of a cluster of computers, each of which may be prone to failures.
Predictive Analytics SaaS (Software as a service) solutions are based on proprietary Machine Learning Big-Data algorithms, guaranteeing real time accurate and reliable predictions, in a fully automated, plug-and-play manner. The data and predictions are presented with advanced visual tools, enabling end users to self-explore, gain insights and comprehend the data, without requiring any statistical background.
The Big Data engine provides real-time accurate load forecasts at the highest level of granularity - the meter / appliance and sub-hour levels. Due to the engine's self-learning capabilities, it models and monitors each meter separately, learns its patterns and behavior, automatically fits its appropriate model and senses its early warnings for irregularities, guaranteeing real-time accurate energy forecasts and actionable insights.
The data and predictions are presented with advanced visual tools, enabling the end user to self-explore, gain insights and comprehend the data, run simulations and impact analysis, view correlations, create 'what if' scenarios and more, without requiring any technical or statistical background.

By freely collecting and combining data from municipal departments Open Data can provide valuable insights into how any city works and how departments may better serve the constituency as well as those that live and work in the city.

There is a preparatory need, of all municipalities that wish to become "Smart Cities”, in the collection, acquisition and analyses of all municipal data into a centralized data platform for free access by all city departments. The great potential in this is that the municipality can use this data to fuel new solutions for civic improvements (Smart City Innovations) and even innovative entrepreneurship while addressing common problems or challenges faced by the constituency.

 In conclusion

“To be a Smart city means gaining information through the use of technology to enable the development of efficient and effective services for citizens.”
Over the past decade, the scope and content of data related to government activities has changed dramatically. The sheer quantity of data available for public consumption, the way in which it is structured and how datasets are used has the potential to impact program planning, analysis and evaluation at the local government level.
Recent experience has shown that businesses want to locate in smart communities. Why? Because being a part of a progressive city says good things about their brand. Plus, smart cities attract technical professionals and members of the creative class, a boon for recruiting qualified candidates. That is why our research focus is the intersection of government and data, ranging from open data and predictive analytics to civic engagement technology. We seek to promote the combination of integrated, cross-agency data with community data to better discover and preemptively address civic problems.
“Data drives decision-making and it drives a lot of the services we all consume… Publishing the data allows everyone inside the city and outside to go in and add intelligence and services on top of it.” Peter Marx, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Los Angeles