Smart Cities need to foster connections between data, departments, and denizens.
Cities are living, breathing organisms. They change constantly with the pulse of life within them. Traffic flows, congests, and opens again. People move in, settle down, commute, and move again. Businesses form, grow, fade, and have a resurgence. It’s a powerful testament to the humans who live there. People change their environment, and their environment shapes them.
We once attempted to monitor and map these changes, but the technology couldn’t keep up. We could create a 2D map, or rather a series of 2D maps (layers) that provided a picture of the world at a snapshot in time. We could even build accurate 3D models of the city, but it took weeks – if not months – to construct, so the information was already out of date.
Today, the world moves even faster, and our capabilities have evolved to keep up with it. We can capture an accurate picture and build a digital model in minutes or hours instead of weeks. The data is there. Smart Cities work together. Through cloud technology, we can distribute our imagery, elevation sources, and vector layers across departments, ensuring that we all work from a common operating picture.
This is vital because Smart Cities problems are complex. If a water pipe bursts, causing a sinkhole in the road, it’s not just the water department that’s affected. The transportation network, the gas pipelines, the communications infrastructure, and public safety all work together to solve the problem, and that requires tight connections and integrated communications across departments. In high-pressure situations, they don’t have time to create new maps; they need automated services that can ingest the new data, update on the fly, and provide a new operational awareness of the affected area.
Each department has its own unique problems and challenges to solve, but all are connected in an ecosystem. One minor change can upset the balance, and that can lead to multidimensional problems. Solving this is a delicate balance. We can start with dynamic information systems that ingest data as soon as it is available and push through the analytics immediately. Then, we can deliver a toolbox of operators that allows each department to build a custom app driven by geospatial data that helps them with their own workflows.
And let’s not forget the citizens, either. They have a vested interest in how their city is growing and changing, and they want to have a voice in how their tax dollars are being utilized to better their way of life. They want to understand how the city measures things like air and noise pollution and participate in the conversation.
This kind of transparency not only builds trust between the citizens and the government but also puts the city on the path toward Maptopia.