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Edge and fog computing: The key to smarter cities? (Part 2)

- June 20, 2018 - 0 Comments

Contributors: Kenn Dodson

In part one (Edge and fog computing: Cutting through the haze), we used Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi movie, Westworld, to illustrate the concepts of edge and fog computing. Now, we’ll explore how government can use them to improve our communities. Edge and fog computing hold great potential to make our lives simpler and can be used anywhere government lives and interacts with citizens, such as:

  • Infrastructure — for improved operations and services (water, sewer, energy, waste, and fleet management)
  • Emergency services — to enhance EMS/fire/police dispatch and natural/manmade disaster response
  • Transportation — for direct vehicle to infrastructure and vehicle to vehicle (V2x) communications/actions such as changing signs, altering traffic signals, optimizing flow, and even controlling autonomous vehicles when needed
  • Social services/healthcare — to manage connected devices for administering and ensuring timely, correct treatments
  • Law enforcement — as augmented reality (AR) that let’s officers identify potential criminals via special glasses that scan faces in crowds then cross references them to thousands of stored images.

We can also add smart buildings (and homes) and all they entail to that list. In fact, there are so many uses for edge and fog computing that we could write a novel as long (or longer) than any of Crichton’s best sellers. It probably wouldn’t sell as many copies or become a hit movie, but it would have a much longer-lasting impact on how we work, play, and learn.

Edge and fog computing – and smart cities

The value of edge and fog computing to our communities is more than just a sensor here, a lock there, or an occasional safety alert. What if you could take all the data gathered at the edge, and all the actions taken there, and give them new life? What if you could easily gather and analyze all that data for new insights into how your community acts — and reacts — and then use it to make even more decisions that could improve the quality of life in your town?

Well, you can. I know, it sounds a little “sci-fi,” but so did Westworld once upon a time. Thanks to edge and fog computing, we’re one step closer to creating living, breathing personifications of our communities. That’s why we’ve embraced the technology as part of our industry-leading smart cities solution, Cisco Kinetic for Cities.

How edge and fog computing can help government

Smart cities technologies have come a long way over the past ten years. But they’ve always lacked something. While they’ve improved government responsiveness and efficiencies, perhaps they haven’t been as smart as we needed at times. This may be because they lacked a true memory. In humans, memory helps us make better decisions and improve outcomes. No memory and, unfortunately, even simple tasks can turn deadly (such as with Alzheimer’s). This was something that the android hosts in the re-imagined Westworld discovered. Then one day they began to remember; to have memories. After that, they truly began to understand the world around them and how to impact it.

I like to think of Cisco Kinetic for Cities as that memory: taking experiences, considering the impacts, then making smarter decisions as a result. In the real world, far away from the Westworld scenario, that capability really is taking smart cities to the next level. One where a single pane of glass, fed by edge and fog processing modules, lets you collect and integrate data from multiple sensor types to construct working digital models of your community.

Urban resilience and mobility

While the Cisco edge and fog processing module can help handle issues your community deals with every day, like lighting, parking, waste, and public safety, it can add two notable capabilities when deployed as part of Cisco Kinetic for Cities:

  • Urban mobility – enabling a holistic view of vehicle traffic and crowd patterns (including vehicle types, speeds, densities, movements, and dwell times), using both historic and real-time data. This can provide critical insights for your future economic and infrastructure planning.
  • Urban resilience – empowering full visibility of any connected asset, in a single dashboard, including aggregating data from numerous vendors, to better manage both manmade and natural risks. This lets you “listen” to your city via hyperlocalized monitoring that can measure toxic gas, fire, flooding, noise levels, and more. Then take preventive actions using simulation and real-time predictive tools.

Thanks to its great adaptability and unending variety of use cases, edge and fog computing may well become the cornerstones of smart city development. But in the end, it’s the benefits that edge and fog computing bring to the people that will ensure its future. In part three, we’ll discuss the unique value edge and fog computing can bring to transportation.

To learn more about improving the quality of life for your citizens through edge and fog computing, check out:

Cisco Edge and Fog Fabric at http://cs.co/EdgeandFogFabric

Cisco Kinetic Edge & Fog Processing Module (EFM) at http://cs.co/KineticDatasheet

Check out the Center for Digital Government’s recent IoT survey at http://cs.co/IoTStateandLocalReport

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