In the city of Busan, South Korea, smart mirrors and street-cleaning robots are a reality. The “augmented city”, as Hwang Jong Sung, Lead Researcher of the National Information Society Agency shared, is designed to “make basic services much easier”, reported GovInsider.

For many smart cities around the world, this can be the paramount goal. But how do cities take smart technology to the next level?

The answer lies in quality data, says Terence Teo, Sales Director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He also discusses how a centralised platform makes way for enhanced innovation, security, and sustainability standards.

What cities are lacking to become smarter

One tech city planners have already implemented is smart video surveillance, according to Teo. Its possibilities are endless – ranging from regulating long queues to providing real-time crucial details of an accident scene.

Smart video surveillance requires AI to run through footage at record speed, while simultaneously identifying and extracting key data points. These could be facial features, temperature, or even visual cues, such as identifying when a car gets involved in a highway accident, so that the relevant emergency departments can be alerted.

But building on such smart tech is not currently possible for two reasons.

First, the storage capabilities of cities are a limiting factor. Processing video footage will take up massive amounts of storage space. “All this data has to reside somewhere,” says Teo.

Another key requirement is quality data. “It is important for us to have good data so that we can make swift and decisive decisions to help citizens or even avert disasters,” says Teo. For example, the Singapore government has an initiative which helps citizens monitor their home appliance usage as well as energy and water consumption levels.

This allows the government to share the utility usage of each household with its citizens. Being able to compare their consumption levels with the national average can encourage citizens to reduce their consumption.

But the process isn’t always straightforward. As opposed to collecting data from only one source, different types of data from various sources need to come together to provide quality data that can realistically benefit people.

For instance, the utility data that HDB shares may look like a regular graph to the layperson, but there is a whole lot of analysis running behind the scenes to provide citizens with information, he explains. This can include temperature settings on the air conditioner, and water and electricity metre readings that allow users access to real-time usage patterns.

Centralised platforms boosts security, storage, and sustainability

A bird’s eye view of a household’s consumption makes it easier for citizens to adjust their usage remotely, helping them cut down on utility bills. Similarly, governments need to be able to access all their resources at their fingertips to craft the most well-informed policies. But issues surrounding information overload and the need for cybersecurity prevent them from doing this efficiently.

If governments only looked at a certain data pool due to the lack of security clearance, they may neglect other servers, says Teo. A centralised platform like HPE GreenLake can help organisations easily manage these servers.

HPE GreenLake makes it easier to identify and eliminate duplicated or obsolete data. HPE advises organisations on which data is unnecessary when migrating their data to a centralised platform, so that they can “start on the right track again”, Teo says.

This “mini tech reset” benefits organisations and the environment alike. Organisations save on data storage charges and clean up their storage spaces. Meanwhile, the tech reset reduces the high levels of carbon emissions generated by cooling massive data centres and storage equipment.

Future innovations underway: Implementing 5G

Looking into the horizon, 5G and 6G could bring real-time AI and cloud technology closer to where people need them, be it at their offices or homes, Charlie Chan, Chief of Enterprise Business Group at Starhub, told Channel Asia.

This allows for improved response times and processing capabilities for digital services, such as clearing out traffic congestions by informing drivers of alternative routes to take based on real time data.

HPE is helping Singapore become a smarter city by teaming up with telco company StarHub to trial 5G and 6G in the country. These technologies can power services like autonomous buses on large campuses, which require AI to react accurately to feedback in real time.

But these frontiers consume a lot of data, highlights Teo. “We won’t know how much data consumption these trials will need to go up to, or whether we will need to expand into other areas of Singapore,” he says.

HPE GreenLake addresses these challenges by allowing governments to increase the data capacity they need at any time. Meanwhile, its model of paying on the go ensures that governments can prepare for future tech in the most cost-efficient manner.

With cities this smart, citizens and governments alike need no longer fret about the little things. A future where all cities can be like Busan is well on its way.

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