Technology, when implemented with the intention of improving the lives of its users, can enhance and save lives, says Alaa Elshimy
In the digital era, information flow will be at the core of everything. Everything will be sensing – people will be connected to people, things will be connected to people and things will be connected to things. These information flows will create new forms of industrial digital transformation & scenario-oriented solutions.
5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud, Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) are just some of the key technologies that are powering this transformation. As urbanisation progresses, governments and administrations are looking for more diverse ways to manage increasingly complex issues related to people’s lives. Innovative smart city technologies are being applied around the world to analyse and assess data in real-time to enable city management officials to manage traffic better, distribute energy appropriately, ensure public safety, and more.
Technology, when implemented with the intention of improving the lives of its users, can enhance and save lives. The pandemic further brought this to the forefront. The use of technologies like AI played a critical role in keeping our communities safe. For instance, AI-based thermal scanning helped create efficiencies in monitoring visitors’ temperatures in public spaces. One of the leading organisations also used it to assist clinical CT diagnosis, shortening the CT viewing time from 12 minutes to seconds.
Technology can also connect all communities, removing barriers to education and creating better prospects for 800 million young minds.
When it comes to building a smart city, governments will need to implement the right systems that can successfully connect the right data and empower city officials to make the right decisions guided by intelligent data. What the Covid-19 crisis also exposed is that the historic independent silo development of many city departments – be it public safety, health care, e-government, communications, transportation, power and water, municipal services, environmental and logistics – needs to be transformed.
The digital transformation of city services is required, where information and situational awareness is readily available from all required sources in near real-time to make informed decisions. The key here is to have the right openness and collaboration across the various departments. Various government departments and industries will need to cooperate with each other more openly and more thoroughly to create a better future.
Moving forward, solutions like intelligent cities, safe cities, intelligent tax systems, intelligent border control, intelligent airports, intelligent oil fields, intelligent grids, intelligent banking, intelligent telemedicine, intelligent education, intelligent manufacturing and many others will develop. Currently there are more than 1000 intelligent applications for different industries being developed.
In a large port city called Yanbu, situated in the Medina province in western Saudi Arabia, AI is used to reduce road fatalities. Yanbu is approximately 606 square kilometers in size, with a population of roughly 240,000. It is home to the third-largest refining center in the world. In order to make it a smarter, safer and better city, Yanbu successfully deployed an Intelligent Traffic Management Solution (ITMS) which puts AI into an intelligent practice by running smart algorithms to automatically identify traffic violations, such as running red lights, crossing lanes and reverse driving. The implementations of the ITMS directly led to a 60% drop in traffic violations, ultimately bringing peace of mind to its residents. In fact, as per some estimates, when we cut traffic by 10%, the average cost of time wasted in major cities will go down by $ 700m a year.
I believe it is imperative to create an industry leading ecosystem to offer the technology, skills and knowledge for best in class smart city solutions. Only by fully leveraging this collective intelligence and tapping into the opinions, knowledge and experience of ecosystem partners, will we build smart cities that will deliver value to all of us.
Underpinning any smart city initiative is, ultimately, the residents and citizens. It is all about people, and people are at the core of everything. In the new digital world, governments will adapt to people’s livelihood, the economy will advantage from a dynamic workforce, the society will have digital fairness, the culture will have new value focus and the environment will enjoy a green earth.