There is an increasing trend towards providing innovative solutions for solving key urban challenges though Smart City initiatives. From population growth to energy consumption and the deterioration of our natural resources, these new technology solutions are being designed for a future where we can use our assets more intelligently and optimally. Whether it is Los Angeles or Delhi, one challenge which is quite common and growing every day, is the energy management.
Building a city needs communities
The aim towards creating a Smart City is to create a city environment that thrives, attracts people, companies and generates more revenue for empowering the residents to be able to manage the typical challenges they face on daily basis by using innovative technology solutions. The Smart City initiative at Tech Mahindra is premised on Community engagement to develop innovative solutions. We are driving a platform for community engagement with focus on actions through the platform called Community Action Platform for Engagement (CAPE). The vision behind this initiative is to harness technology to drive community projects. Citizens form communities to drive change but the struggle to get accurate data sets to manage these projects is an impediment in making an informed collective decision.
Smart Energy Management For The Future
Thanks to the latest advancements in Big Data and Analytics, the information can now be made available in a ‘Data Hub’ and visualized with a Geospatial platform for ease of use by ordinary citizens to select areas of interest and create new community projects, run campaigns to on-board residents and use market place to engage potential suppliers and funding agencies. Putting these initiatives into practice means, we can understand how key services are operating and the scope of savings or improvement therein. For example, sensors and videos from roads can update/reflect live transport and congestion information, or pinpoint specific locations where urgent road maintenance is needed. Collecting this information centrally helps cut down the effort or actual travel to those places for assessment. Similarly, smart sensors on waste bins can send alerts to a central dashboard when they are full, to maximize waste disposal efficiency as the refuse-collection trucks are sent out on more fuel-efficient routes based on which bins need to be emptied.
An example closer to home is the solid waste management system in the city of Jabalpur, where the Government took the initiative to remotely monitor garbage collection and management with Tech Mahindra as a technology partner. An RFID tag is installed in each household and the bin, which will send updates to the database on which ones are filled as and when the garbage is collected. We are doing waste collection and monitoring for almost 2,75,000 households there, with almost 300 community bins and 300 community trucks, on optimized routes.
Tech Mahindra’s Smart City Initiative
The key to the success of Smart City initiatives is data and building a knowledge base from the real world, which is based on the way humans interact with their environment. Take the University of Southern California in LA, who have brought together disparate sources of data for their new initiative, i3, to test the internet of things and ramp up the traffic and energy management as one of key areas of innovation. This project will encompass building a consortium to create innovative solutions in LA along with USC and other partners. Tech Mahindra’s CAPE initiative focuses on Energy to start with and then will expand in future, to include critical use cases like emergency readiness.
Also, citizens living in cities should be responsible with regard to energy use and capable of managing that data. An online platform in Milton Keynes (a city in Southern England) enables households to organise and manage their own community energy schemes, using building data as well as satellite and thermal imagery. Armed with information on their home energy performance and heat dissipation, for instance, households could join forces and even instigate crowd buying with a particular energy supplier to get volume discounts. As one of the technology partners in Milton Keynes and other smart cities, globally, we have developed a platform which takes in information from central intelligence feeds, infrastructure networks, such as energy, public transport and water, satellite, thermal imagery and even social media, to support planning and management decision-making. The first step involves getting data from LA City and other validated sources; if it is real time- even better. We have worked with local communities, start ups and local government in Milton Keynes to collaborate and design all aspects of such a platform with trial projects to test these solutions. This initiative will enable communities to understand exactly how to use Open data and use own and public assets better.
Is better control of data critical for the future of Smart Cities.
India due to its sheer size and vast population has a lot of scope for experimentation and improvement in the Smarter Energy management segment. In the future, we can also provide information on which energy usage is cheaper at a specific point in time by measuring and analyzing different sources of energy – wind, solar, battery power. This offers a huge potential to deliver more dynamic forms of energy management for households. It can be easily replicated in India but, the challenge is that the country still needs validated data sources and control on access of analytics platform, which is feasible in the current environment. Harnessing data from different sources will not only inform about the decisions made by the local and central Government, but, can also give more control back to the citizens themselves. Through the intelligent analysis of data, we can improve the quality of services delivered and make real changes to the residents’ quality of life.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house