Developing smart cities: in the eye of the IoT

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Kasia Hanson, Global Senior Director, Security Ecosystem Development and Partnerships at Intel examines the qualities that help to build safe, smart cities.

A new world

The evolution of technology in cities has been transformative, turning traditional urban areas into dynamic smart cities.

This shift involves the integration of advanced technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), AI and big data analytics into urban infrastructure.

Cities face the challenge of adapting to the modern world and require the infrastructure necessary to address this.

These challenges, which can affect everything from public safety to traffic congestion, are becoming increasingly critical as urban areas expand at an incredible rate, driven by a burgeoning global population that’s expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050 according to the United Nations (with more than 68% of the population projected to live in cities).

This exponential growth has also led to the question of how to minimize environmental impacts.

Sustainable governments are environmentally neutral and ecologically friendly, providing safe and healthy spaces to the citizens.

Municipal organizations are also grappling with data silos within government agencies that hinder the ability to identify and deploy solutions. They are faced with budget constraints that require future-proofed solutions to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO).

City governments also need to ensure that that all residents have equitable access to resources and that they can benefit from the social, economic and environmental resources their cities provide.

As cities around the world strive to improve the quality and sustainability of their services, public safety and local economic competitiveness, they need new ways to meet their multifaceted goals.

Scaling existing infrastructure and human resource-intensive processes are simply too cost-prohibitive, unmanageable and unsupportable.

This is where AI comes into play; the rapid growth of this technology offers revolutionary opportunities for cities to operate more sustainably while boosting citizens’ safety and quality of life.

Developed areas can be positively transformed with the wealth of data insight that AI and automation provide, boosting the growth of smart cities.

The power of AI helps to optimize resource consumption, enhance energy efficiency and ensure sustainable urban growth.

Edge computing’s growth in the IoT is being driven by several factors, such as its ability to manage the world’s ever-expanding volume of data while offering lower latency and higher security.

By 2030, a third of all global workloads will be deployed at the edge, placing more computational power closer to where data is generated in the physical world – among buildings, transportation, roadways and vehicles.

Combining the benefits of both the edge and AI (by running inference directly on edge data) data is not only analyzed, but also acted upon to enable automated and autonomous operations.

The power of AI in smart cities

In the rapidly changing landscape of urban growth and development, cities that harness AI solutions – particularly at the edge – are positioned to truly become smart cities, leading the way in safety, sustainability and livability.

For example, the International Energy Agency projects that cities could reduce emissions by up to 15% by adopting AI technologies; and a recent report from McKinsey indicated that AI can be used to reduce CO2 emissions by 10%.

Additionally, the deployment of AI in urban areas is anticipated to yield several other benefits, such as enhanced public safety, modern road and rail infrastructure, traffic management, etc.

In fact, forward-thinking cities are already experiencing benefits like these – particularly in the areas of public safety and transportation.

These cities are noticing a significant reduction of traffic delays; lower rates of adverse or illegal incidents; and increased pedestrian throughput in metro stations.

These early successes emphasize the practical impact of integrating edge AI into urban planning and management.

Of course, just as cities will face different outcomes based on whether they adopt digital solutions for physical infrastructure, so will those that are positioned to provide smart city solutions.

There will be significant opportunities for those that can deliver these edge AI solutions – while overcoming municipal organizations’ concerns about security, complexity and cost.

Cities that are transformed by AI can look forward to a future where urban efficiency and sustainability are no longer aspirational goals; they are vibrant realities.

Tomorrow’s smart cities, leveraging AI at the edge, will enhance quality of life for citizens by providing equitable access to the services and opportunities they need to thrive.

AI-powered video analytics and real-time data sharing will enhance security – detecting anomalies and improving emergency response times, which will help reduce risks to citizens.

Sensors that monitor air quality, water levels and noise position will also play vital roles in improving residents’ lives, as well as cities’ sustainability efforts.

Intelligent transportation systems, utilizing integrated 5G, AI and IoT technologies, will provide real-time insights to alleviate congestion, minimize emissions and enhance mobility.

The new infrastructure supporting security, edge and advanced analytics

The path to safe and smart cities begins with a new type of infrastructure – one that seamlessly integrates physical infrastructure with digital technologies.

Edge computing solutions play a pivotal role in this new infrastructure, and when deployed effectively offer reduced latency, enhanced data security, lower transmission costs, wider reach and greater scalability.

Intel is at the forefront of enabling this transformative shift from compute to software, taking a human-centric approach that delivers tailored solutions to drive sustainable societal and economic growth while enhancing livability.

Here are a few specific ways we are providing value to cities:

Ecosystem partnerships: our extensive ecosystem of industry leaders provides ready-to-deploy enterprise solutions that can accelerate innovation and propel cities into the AI era.

By collaborating with our partners, we are also able to deliver these open, software-defined solutions for safe and smart cities that can operate with off-the-shelf hardware – ensuring compatibility with both existing and future technologies.

Operational expertise: Intel helps cities tackle the complexities of edge development head-on, simplifying the operational challenges of deploying and managing edge AI.

This approach involves a deep understanding of the intricate dynamics of data generated by both machines and humans as well as the complexities involved with marrying modern IT solutions with brownfield infrastructure and software.

Trusted, foundational security: from products to practices, hardware is your first security decision.

Intel is a trusted security technology leader and we have an expertise-backed understanding of the threats that AI and edge infrastructure expose.

This has led us to develop an open, reliable hardware and software platform that eases the process of incorporating security for network and edge solutions.

Outcome-focused solutions: Intel’s edge AI solutions are designed to provide the real-time intelligence to help cities achieve business outcomes across smart city use cases, such as:

  • Safety and security: Intel hardware and software solutions are developed and validated with the ecosystem to accelerate solution identification and deployment. These solutions include enhanced public safety (e.g.: roads, ports, transportation), AI automated insights for security, crowd management and public safety, environmental monitoring and safety, predictive threat detection, safe public spaces, venues and critical infrastructure protection
  • Road infrastructure: Intel technologies open new possibilities for traffic management, tolling, parking and EV charging
  • Rail and marine infrastructure: Intel technologies help rail companies and train stations turn data into new insights, maintain safety and streamline operations. They also help modernize maritime infrastructure and assets to achieve operational savings – while enabling end-to-end solutions such as container management, automated yard inventory/control

Technologies optimized for insights: our industrial-grade, reliable technologies allow cities to rely on us for full-spectrum vision, multi-modal sensor fusion and pervasive connectivity, as well as AI at every data point.

Smart cities can also maximize value by reusing existing Intel-based infrastructure for new solutions along with software tools that help them keep pace with advancements.

As an example, AI suite for Visual Analytics (VA) includes prequalified, edge AI-ready hardware and a software toolkit to streamline AI development and deployment, which can accelerate inference while minimizing investment needed to adopt AI at the edge.

The suite is versatile enough to be applied to different requirements and use cases – whether for current or future needs.

The future is here

For decades, customers have trusted Intel and our ecosystem partners to deliver innovative solutions, helping them keep pace with technological advancements.

We work with the ecosystem to help develop capabilities and business outcomes that solve real world problems in security, cities and transportation.

Some notable examples of how we are helping to create smart, future-looking safe and smart cities include:

Public transportation: working with City Tech and Genetec, Intel helped the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) create the transit experience of tomorrow.

The solution included AI to track and analyze rider demand, onboard sensors to determine when buses are getting full and projection models using live weather and traffic data to help bus networks adapt to new situations.

Roadways: Intel and Capgemini Engineering collaborated to create a solution that simplifies the process of implementing smart city applications.

This solution has enabled safer, more sustainable transportation through traffic flow optimization to reduce delays, busy intersection detection and alerts about unsafe road conditions.

Critical infrastructure: Intel, SAP and AlertEnterprise collaborated to develop a solution that provides an integrated ‘edge to enterprise’ technology platform solution for increased resiliency and protection of utility substations.

The opportunities are limitless

The opportunity for the future lies in harnessing the power of AI-enabled solutions that help smart cities create safe, sustainable and thriving cities where physical infrastructure and digital capabilities expand the possibilities.

Physical and cybersecurity practitioners that help cities protect infrastructure, data and citizens and are well positioned to be a critical innovation partner driving the safe and smart cities of the future.

This article was originally published in the July edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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