According to UN estimates, 68 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. More than half of India’s population to is moving towards urban areas. With the launch of Smart Cities Mission by Prime Minister, India is taking a step towards embracing data-driven governance. A smart city that would deploy next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) for various applications, would create large quantities of data while communicating with one another to improve efficiencies within a variety of functions. This would require more bandwidth and faster connectivity to function, but the growth rate of citizens moving to urban locations exacerbates this challenge. In order to build a truly smart city, one needs a sophisticated data storage infrastructure, seamless connectivity and big data capabilities to make the concept of smart cities a success.
A smart city can be one of the two types - Greenfield, one requiring the building of a smart, digitized city from scratch, while the other type is Brownfield, cities that already exist and require to be retrofitted with technology-enabled infrastructure for facilities like sanitation, transportation, security, energy distribution etc. There is a need to integrate advanced technology efficiently to ensure smooth running and uninterrupted connectivity. Tier 3/4 data centres would be major catalysts to the emergence of smart cities since massive data storage and processing capacities would be required to address the needs of such cities.
India will require infrastructure investment of $4.5 trillion by 2040 as estimated by The Indian Economic Survey 2017-18. Smart cities will be embedded with connected sensors, IoT devices and other next-generation hardware in the infrastructure. Hence, they must possess the requisite data processing power to make information useful. Edge data centres can be the solution to many of the challenges and provide what these cities require to function efficiently. These data centres will allow technologies to work effectively by helping with increased data storage and faster processing.
In a smart city infrastructure, inhabitants would expect benefits through information exchange in real-time. Interconnection between people, devices, data and the network must be smooth. Creating new automated facilities and powered applications would require adopting high-density innovation strategies to maximize productivity and increase competence. It is vitally important to be able to store the data generated, access, analyse and interpret data as and when the need occurs. So, it is not wrong to believe that data centres would be significant pillars in building a smart city.
IoT forms the crux of a technology-enabled urban development; interconnected devices such as smartphones, smart parking sensors, weather sensors or security surveillance systems will be put in place to improve the quality of living in such cities. Actuator technologies that enable the application of these solutions rely heavily on the data collected by these sensors. Municipalities analyze the data picked up by sensors to send commands to the connected network of utilities in a smart society. Needless to say, a smart city blueprint based on IoT using Big Data Analytics to process the data generated will depend on an infinitely elastic data infrastructure.
The success of smart cities will depend heavily on the robustness of its supporting infrastructure. A data centre with uptime reliability and scalability for the effective functioning of the smart city takes precedence over other factors. Powerful data infrastructure will provide better connectivity reducing the latency and ensuring easy availability of information required to carry out its functions. Reliability, resiliency, downtime and security are some of the major concerns to be tackled in the smooth running of a smart city. Edge data centres will form an integral part of the entire physical infrastructure, which will serve as data storage and processing platforms for the data being created.
Hyperscale architecture would thus allow the city authorities to approach the data, resources and service data more efficiently as its functionality is much more flexible and scalable. While it is too early to say whether smart cities will garner the popularity and adoption they were conceptualised with, there is no doubt that the right data centre infrastructure forms the backbone of this ambitious project. We can exploit the full potential of a DataSmart City and benefit from government’s ‘city-as-a-platform concept’ if we foster and invest in a sustainable and highly elastic data centre to manage the data life cycle right from data ingestion to data analytics.
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