The notion of a smart city is not new to the world. It all started in the mid-90s when urbanization gained momentum with better employment opportunities and living conditions attracting people to cities. There was a pressure on the cities now to fulfill their aspirations and thus began the search for technologies that could increase efficiencies, bring down costs and generate value-added jobs and above all sustainable living conditions and economic growth in the cities. To put it simply, cities began their journey towards smartness. With the passage of time, these cities set an example to the rest of the world by being livable and technologically advanced cities. With the passing time this concept become mainstream and is more popularly known as “smart cities”. Every city is in the race to be smart and has come up with varied delineations and philosophies about how a smart city should be.
And, now when the world is having its biggest enemy ever that is the novel coronavirus, the pressure is now more on cities. For them, it is not just about providing affluent life to their citizens but more than that to protect them from the deadly virus. Giving an example to Indian smart cities a report by Global data, a leading data and analytics company suggest that smart cities in India too have been playing a major role and leading the way in the country’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like for example Agra Smart City has launched a tele-video consultation service, which allows citizens to book an appointment with healthcare professionals, and even download online prescriptions from a dedicated website/app. Agra Smart City also tied up with the city administration and the Agra Police to set up a control room for monitoring social distancing compliance at various locations via video surveillance. It has also started using AI-based analytics on the surveillance data to generate alerts, which are configured via an app on the field staff mobile phones.
The debate can go on over the definition, but a look at different smart city visions all over the world makes one thing very apparent — a smart city is all about providing better living conditions to the citizens while making it more sustainable, resilient and livable. The idea is to improve the quality of life of its citizens where geospatial technology is the backbone.
Let’s have a look at some of these technologies that are helping cities to protect their citizens from COVID-19 and can ease citizens’ life after COVID-19.
The technology that was once designed to destroy has become life savior during COVID-19. In this unprecedented time, they are helping authorities in surveillance and monitoring, delivering medicines and goods in the hard reached area, they are being used in spraying disinfectant, temperature check, etc. In several countries including China, Germany, and the United States, empty fields have been converted into temporary hospitals to ease the pressure on hospitals that are already functioning at full capacity. Drones are helping governments in surveying those areas and build more efficiently and with minimal human involvement.
In time to come they will continue to be a backbone of smart cities they will also play a prominent role in optimizing workflows of various industries. They ability to quickly generate ready to use image will offers near-limitless ways to gather and analyse data. UAVs in geospatial technology have been used to scope out massive areas, such as a whole city, within a few hours. The integration of 3D visualization tools in UAVs will further revolutionize the way that geospatial technology can inspect, survey and map.
Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT), in particular, and along with other technologies like Cloud and AI, is of great use during the crisis. According to a study by researchers at MIT, overlaying geographic information system (GIS) on IoT mobile data can assist epidemiologists in their search for patient zero and can help identify all the people who have come into contact with the infected patients. The technology can also be helpful in monitoring patients who are high-risk and hence can be a source of information to healthcare staff to take adequate action.
Internet of things is like veins of the city spread all across and connecting each dot. Every device that is part of a smart city needs to be connected to each other so that they can talk amongst and can take decisions for themselves which in return allows managing resources of a megacity population. This is where the IoT comes in, providing the perfect template of a body of communicating devices that provides smart solutions to everyday problems. All smart solutions in smart cities are based on Internet of things where they are connected and smart enough to decide their action.
Whatever is built in a smart city has to be right and so to build right a right plan is the need which is sustainable and this requires accurate, concise and detail data and here comes the role of Location technologies which provide the underlying foundation and ultimately the fabric upon which solution can be built. It provides location which allows pinpointing exactly on the need so that better solution can be applied to it. Geospatial technology provides a necessary framework for collecting data and transforming observation in these collections to facilitate software-based solution around smart infrastructure. the use of Spatial Data Science and location-based data streams is more important than ever. From understanding and predicting the dynamic of the COVID-19 spread over time and space, to empowering our administrations with insights and tools to better plan and respond against the dramatic pressure inflicted on our health infrastructure, emergency systems and overall economic system.