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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, Cloud and the Smart City: A Brighter Tomorrow

In my last blog, I discussed the benefits of Smart City cloud management capabilities. An intelligent IP-enabled network unites multiple services onto one infrastructure, allowing for tight operations management and lower expenses. Operating this network remotely, through the cloud, further enhances the capability for sustainable, effective city management.

As Smart City visions emerge in various projects in local government, we will see a combination of new ways of thinking, designing, planning, executing, and managing. Busan, South Korea has already discovered the powerful benefits of cloud infrastructure to create Smart+Connected Communities solutions. The government partnered with companies to create a Mobile Application Center to utilize city assets and the connected network. (You can also watch a video series, “Cities of the Future,” on Songdo, South Korea and how this new connected Smart City was designed, planned, and built.)

There are some important steps that other cities and governments can take to harness the power of the cloud to become more connected, efficient, and sustainable. A process on how to answer the Smart City call to action is further outlined in Cisco’s POV paper, “Smart City Framework,” and video.

1.     Use one intelligent, multiservice IP network.

This is the overarching mantra of a Smart City—connect systems and services to improve city livability. While it can seem daunting, it’s important to remember the long-term benefits of a connected city, especially using cloud management. Some of the most promising Smart City projects have shown that it’s possible to use the network to achieve some major goals of state and local government, including efficient city management and economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Savvy government leaders are recognizing the untapped power of the network and incorporating its potential into the early stages of planning and development. Many cities have experimented with including information and communications technology (ICT) solutions through small-scale “proof of concept” projects. Since budgets are so limited, it can be difficult to adopt a purely centralized approach, which means trying new techniques and learning from the enterprise sector.

2.     Build a foundation for public-private partnerships.

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, Cloud and the Smart City: It’s All Connected

Cities around the world are facing some big and complicated problems, with few easy answers at the ready. Rising energy costs, environmental concerns, and new government initiatives have inspired a focus on sustainable IT operations. But how can cities be expected to solve these crises, while also improving citizen services and ensuring future economic success?

Advanced information and communications technology (ICT) is a great answer, but this is easier said than done. Cities frequently face logistical hurdles on the road to becoming Smart Cities. I believe the key is creating a more effective “connected transformation,” harnessing the power of cloud computing for cost reduction and the delivery of vital services.

We’ve seen this in the enterprise sector: An intelligent IP-enabled information network provides a single, multiservice infrastructure to support productivity and cost initiatives—all achieved remotely, via cloud management. Government agencies are beginning to follow this lead. The public sector, for example, is finding new ways to measure such things as power consumption, thereby controlling energy output, reducing costs, and increasing operational efficiency. For government as well, the cloud is becoming an important tool for achieving greater sustainability.

Overall, the cloud is helping to create more effective city management, and it enables the network to become:

  • Observable. Cities can monitor systems, power flows, and equipment, with no physical or location constraints.
  • Controllable. Providing remote two-way communications and data between stations, systems, and equipment will maintain effective operations.
  • Automated. Hands-off processes allow for greater cost efficiency.
  • Secure. Layers of defense throughout a cloud grid will assure service reliability, prevent outages, and protect citizens.

The result is an intelligent, integrated cloud infrastructure that is pivotal to a Smart City’s evolution. Some amazing technology advances are making it possible for complex systems to be managed—and self-managed—remotely and efficiently. A flood of recently published case studies show how, in practical terms, high connectivity is essential to a new future for buildings and cities, and to the urban economy as a whole.

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Urban Sustainability – Not Just A Dream

As world leaders ponder how to meet the growing demand for energy and resources, while reducing global carbon emissions, cities are challenged even further. The exponential growth of cities has resulted in enormous urban challenges:  scarcity of resources; skyrocketing passenger, cargo, and digital traffic; and outdated and overloaded infrastructures.

The continued expansion of the Internet and our society’s increased connectivity seemingly amplify these urban challenges. However, Cisco and Schneider Electric see an opportunity to create a new future for cities, and they are already making cities more efficient and connected today.

The key is transforming a city from the inside out:

  • Developing an efficient infrastructure for the utilities network, transportation systems, buildings, and public services.
  • Adding connectivity to integrate these efficiency solutions, and including people in the social conversation.
  • Reducing carbon emissions and environmental consequences of urban life to ensure sustainability.

This transformation requires that the city’s operating systems, such as utilities and transportation, function with optimal efficiency, allowing data collection for operations optimization. In order to solve the “pain points” that negatively affect city residents (such as power outages), it is critical to optimize each individual system, as well as the overall structure and connections among systems. Efficient integrated operating systems that create connections will improve services, offer better information sharing, and enhance a city’s sustainability and livability, transforming it into a Smart City.

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