The Connected City

The Connected City
Pioneering smart city technology and IoT solutions are the path to a more intelligent future, according to Val Cook, Co-Founder and Chief Software Architect of Blaize.

As the world continues to urbanize at an unprecedented rate, the concept of smart cities has emerged as a beacon of hope for sustainable development, improved quality of life and technology and enhanced security, holding the key that can unlock the full potential of our urban landscapes.

Today, there is a more intense focus on revolutionizing smart city technology and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, reshaping how cities function and interact with their inhabitants. In an era characterized by rapid urbanization, cities face many challenges, ranging from traffic congestion and pollution to inefficient resource management and inadequate infrastructure. Smart cities leverage advanced technologies such as IoT, AI, and data analytics to address these challenges and create more secure, safe, efficient, sustainable, and livable urban environments.

Cutting-edge solutions
The progress towards smart cities ushers in the demand for organizations to develop advanced solutions explicitly tailored to the needs of smart cities that harness the power of AI at the edge, enabling real-time data processing and analysis with ultra-low latency. By deploying AI edge computing platforms, cities can collect and analyze vast amounts of data from sensors, cameras, and other IoT devices in real-time, allowing for faster decision-making and more efficient resource allocation in city functions. These platforms also need physical and logical security controls to protect sensors and monitors against theft, environmental threats, and manipulation of data collected.

“The progress towards smart cities ushers in the demand for organizations to develop advanced solutions.”

One of the critical functions of smart cities is transportation and mobility optimization. Traffic congestion is a significant pain point for many urban residents, leading to wasted time, increased emissions, and decreased productivity. Access to AI-powered advanced traffic management solutions that leverage real-time data from sensors and cameras provides rapid insights and visibility into city trouble spots. Utilizing this data, smart cities can enhance traffic flow through changes in traffic signal adjustments and bus and train schedule optimization, resulting in congestion reductions, shorter travel times, and improved road safety. This enables a city to allocate resources better and avoid unnecessary energy consumption. Whether it’s dynamic traffic signal control, intelligent routing algorithms, or predictive maintenance for public transportation systems, smart cities will need to implement a solution that can transform urban mobility for the better.

In addition to transportation, smart energy management solutions are at the forefront of consideration. As the threat of climate change grows, cities worldwide are under increasing pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and transition to renewable energy sources. Some cities may pursue simple steps like promoting energy flex hours, utilizing energy-efficient streetlights city-wide, or encouraging citizens to use public transportation or partake in ridesharing rather than personal vehicles. These initiatives are helpful and move the needle in the right direction, but the real benefits come from implementing AI-driven energy optimization platforms. These solutions enable cities to monitor and manage energy usage in real-time, identify inefficiencies throughout the city, and implement strategies to reduce waste, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and improve sustainability.

Smart cities can use an optimization platform to identify energy-intensive processes or equipment and set energy-saving targets during such items or equipment operations. With this enhanced awareness of energy consumption patterns, smart cities can measure progress toward these goals and adjust accordingly. For example, water pump stations throughout a city support all types of uses, from firefighting, landscaping, irrigation, street cleaning and, most importantly, drinking water. For many cities, a failing pump is the first indication that something has gone wrong. By then, it is too late, and the ramifications of a failed pump can be harmful to a city’s sustainability goals. In the case of drinking water, it could be detrimental. With an AI-powered energy optimization platform in place, city management can continuously monitor the condition of a specific pump in real-time, utilize AI algorithms to analyze sensor data to detect anomalies, identify inefficiencies, predict potential failures, and schedule maintenance proactively for enhanced operational efficiency and improved sustainability.

“A smart city technology solution should always include a commitment to privacy, security, and ethical data use.”

Security for the public
When implementing smart city solutions, identifying a source dedicated to enhancing public safety and security is an important consideration. Smart cities are responsible for managing their citizens’ safety and security. Part of their responsibility entails securing data collected from devices, surveillance cameras, and a vast array of city assets, which may capture sensitive and personal details about its inhabitants.

Along these lines, consider the threat of a cyber-attack on the infrastructure of smart cities. Daily, malicious actors attempt to exploit vulnerabilities to conduct ransomware operations, launch destructive cyber-attacks, and attempt to steal sensitive details about citizens. If this type of information is compromised, vicious individuals can sell the data and use it to commit identity theft or fraud.

By utilizing a source that leverages AI and IoT technologies and that is dedicated to enhancing public safety and security, cities are enabled to proactively detect and respond to potential threats, whether it’s through intelligent video surveillance, predictive crime analytics, or emergency response optimization. It is essential to have a solution that enables law enforcement agencies and emergency services to coordinate their efforts better, leading to faster response times and improved outcomes for residents.

A smart city technology solution should always include a commitment to privacy, security, and ethical data use. Leaders in this space recognize the significance of adhering to the highest data security and privacy standards and implementing robust encryption protocols and anonymization techniques to safeguard personal data and prevent unauthorized access.

The right choice
In navigating the right solution, look for one that is leading the charge in revolutionizing smart city technology and IoT solutions and empowers cities worldwide to become more efficient, sustainable, and livable. From transportation and energy management to public safety and security, seek AI-driven platforms that transform how cities function and interact with their inhabitants.

This article appeared in the May 2024 Security Journal Americas –