Governments today face a challenging and rapidly changing environment. Ambitious reforms and revenue generating operations are taking precedence, even while a trend of cost cutting and budget tightening is taking effect. This is presenting a re-envisioned opportunity to truly bring public service to the 21st century. And these transformative efforts are coalescing around governments embracing the digital age.
The oncoming future of citizen services is less and less in the hands of governments alone. The onslaught of digital technologies has empowered the evolution of long-held government practices. The move to citizen-centered services that have been redesigned around the needs of the community user is upon us.
The influence of the Internet is often overlooked considering its ubiquitous presence in all facets of our lives today. But we have entered a new era in the life of the Internet and it begs the question, what role will it play in the future? The Internet of Everything is paving the way in to the digital era, bringing with it the proliferation of network-connected objects, processes, living things, and mountains of data that will truly change our world.
Let’s then take a look at a concept of the connected port and the capacity of far-reaching payoffs for the cities that house them, port operators, their business customers, and the end consumers. Today’s ports play a critical role in the global economy, and are at the heart of world trade and the movement of goods. Ports in the United States alone move over $1.3 trillion in cargo annually. With that, any disruption – whether it is a criminal act or a case of simple operational inefficiencies – would be a detriment to the global economy.
As city port authorities face increased safety and security regulations and mandates, they also need to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. Additionally, things like real-time data collection and exchange across vessels, ports, cargo and land logistics are providing new revenue streams. Local businesses can gain a competitive advantage and cities can open new economic and trade markets by embracing the Internet of Everything on its digital transformation journey.
Highways, bridges, railways, mass transit, ports, airports, and their cyber networks are all a part of critical transportation infrastructure, which is essential to the daily function of 21st century society. As urban population centers grow, so does the demand on transportation infrastructure. More and more commuters are shifting from using roadways to rail, bus and other means of public transportation.
This shift is changing the role of public transportation systems and the station hubs that support them. Commuters demand full connectivity – transportation operators must assume that everything and everyone needs to be connected to a network. But the growth of connected devices within transportation ecosystems dramatically increases the number of potential attack vectors. And as we open our transportation networks – both physical and digital – to more points of connectivity, concerns of vulnerability to increasingly sophisticated direct and indirect cyber attacks are on the rise.
The Internet of Everything is forming the foundation of the digital transformation of connected roads, rails, buses, airports, and ports being built all around the world. Improving global transportation systems increases mobility and improves safety and security for millions of people, in an environmentally conscious manner. Transportation agencies and organizations are approaching digital strategies that are changing the overall passenger experience, improving productivity, and generating new revenue streams; changing the traditional of the industry.
There’s nothing like the quiet (or in my case, not-so-quiet) desperation of circling a few city blocks, over and over again, looking for a spot to park. You can almost feel your sanity slipping away. The search for a parking space is not only terribly frustrating; it is also a major contributor to traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
And we all love the classic case of walking home at night, tripping every few steps because, unbeknownst to you, no streetlights seem to cooperate and come to life in your neighborhood. For municipalities, street lighting is an essential maintenance effort to help improve public safety and the overall citizen experience, influencing a city’s ability to create a lasting environment for business and tourism. Unfortunately, community lighting is also a major energy and cost drain.
Of late, there is a consistent slashing of public budgets that must somehow be managed, while still meeting the growing demands from communities under the pressure of rapid urbanization. However, cities around the world are overcoming these challenges with the Internet of Everything.
In particular, communities are developing digital strategies to better address parking and city lighting needs, yielding a widespread and shared benefit. For example, with easier access to parking, citizens are facing less traffic, saving money on fuel, receiving more convenient payment options, and experiencing an overall improvement in quality of life. On the flip side, civil servants can better detect and report parking violations, increasing community revenue. Similarly, smart lighting management can contribute to a safer community. And city officials can reduce energy consumption, cost, and maintenance, all while positively contributing to the environment.
Whenever I hear about a serious train accident, mugging or shootout on the streets of a city, my thoughts often turn to Fog Computing. The same is true when I too am stuck idling in a traffic jam or at home and there’s a power outage during a winter storm or a summer heat wave.
Why do I think about Fog Computing? Well, my job at Cisco is to not only identify the latest disruptive Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, but also to validate where they might be applied to improve overall quality of life.. Whether it’s drones, artificial intelligence or robotics, my passion is to accelerate the art of the possible.
Consider Fog Computing. Fog extends cloud computing to the edge of the network. This provides a virtualized platform for compute, storage and network services between devices and data storage centers in the cloud. Because of its low latency, location awareness, real-time interactions and wide geo distribution, Fog Computing can sense and respond to situations in the real physical world almost instantly.
The speed and power of Fog to connect people, data, processes and things opens up a new world of practical solutions. For example, Fog Computing, when combined with sensors and wireless networks, can immediately alert the train operator as soon as there is trouble on the tracks, such as a slow-walking pedestrian or a stalled vehicle. With Fog, energy loads can be automatically re-balanced or re-routed to alternative sources during spikes in demand or low availability.
In a Smart+Connected Community, acoustic sensors deployed around streets that are connected to Fog Computing infrastructure can identify gunshots, perpetrators, victims, accidents, or even cries for help with high accuracy while also alerting appropriate authorities.