Powering the road to smart cities


Interview with Erich Gerber, SVP, EMEA and APJ, TIBCO Software Inc.

All roads may lead to Rome, but the path to smart cities will need more thought and tech to find.

Cities need good ways to sieve through the scores of data they're collecting for helpful insights. This will be crucial in order to predict event patterns, provide better public services, and smooth out any kinks that come with running a modern city.

How can leaders be more data-driven and responsive, especially when in the face of a crisis? Erich Gerber, SVP EMEA and APJ at TIBCO Software, shares how the company is powering smart cities of the future.

1. What is TIBCO’s vision for smart cities?

TIBCO’s smart city framework includes embedding intelligence into edge devices and acting on data in real-time to project better outcomes. Smart cities leverage on digital technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT), along with agile Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities. It is with these kinds of technologies that smart cities become intelligent, connected, and predictive - and thus capable of quickly solving problems and optimising the urban environment. TIBCO provides advanced analytics solutions, including data visualization, streaming analytics and data science capabilities for a clear understanding of data and insights, and enabling intelligent data-driven decisions.

2. How can cities today improve the way they collect, manage and use data?

Smart cities depend on gathering vast amount of data from multiples data sources. One of the increasingly more important ones of these sources are IoT devices. The issue with collecting data from these devices is that it is rather complex to interconnect IoT platforms. Also, there are different methods of interpreting data types, which leads to the majority of this data being rarely used. Without the ability to collect, draw insights from, and act on data quickly, the opportunity is lost to truly build a smart city that leverages on data-driven capabilities. TIBCO’s solutions enable interoperability and accessibility among information systems for a centralised control over the smart city ecosystem. This allows information and communication among various IoT devices and platforms to flow, so that collected data is managed and used effectively in smart cities.

3. Cities will have to be more responsive and their leaders more data-driven to respond to future crises. What should they be paying attention to? What needs to change?

In order for leaders to maximise the capabilities of smart cities, leaders should use a solution that ensures the security and accessibility of data on a common platform to reduce complexity, control critical functions, adapt to new operating models, automate manual processes, and improve visibility. A smart IoT infrastructure can help create connection solutions that lead to reduced costs and new revenue streams, and it something that leaders should really be paying attention to. Simplifying and automating processes will actually yield more efficient data streams that will build a truly functional smart city.

4. What is complex event processing and why is it important for smart cities?

Governments have recognised that massive, continuous data mining capabilities are required to transform metropolitan areas into smart cities. With the continuous need to process data streams to produce actionable insights in real-time, new technologies such as complex event processing (CEP) were developed to process multiple data sources and extract relevant information in a timely manner. Unlike traditional event processing that typically does not involve correlating findings to historical data, CEP makes inferences based on data taken from multiple data sources, treating all events as potentially significant and recording them asynchronously.

In a smart city, every “event” is observed, recorded, and processed along with other event sources to identify and predict event patterns or complex events, producing data that can be further used and processed by CEP engines. Leveraging real-time contextual information influences outcomes with faster action and enables a smart city to run at top speed.

5. Could you share examples for use cases where TIBCO’s approach has made an impact?

Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG), which generates approximately half the electricity for Ontario, Canada, used TIBCO EBX to integrate their project data to deliver their complex multi-billion dollar nuclear programs on-time and on-budget. Proudly one of the largest clean power producers in North America, OPG was able to accomplish this feat while operating 3 other reactors at world-class performance.

NASA is also an agency that benefited from using TIBCO’s software. Some 12 years back NASA was still using spreadsheets, versions of Word docs and PDFs, which caused duplication of effort and lack of data trust. With the TIBCO solution, the agency successfully changed its culture, increased productivity, and improved reporting accuracy and confidence. TIBCO Professional Services launched the integration platform that helped in extending and scaling NASA’s technology to where it is today.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) also turned to TIBCO to drive evidence-based environmental and business decisions. To bring its disparate data sources together, SEPA chose TIBCO Spotfire and TIBCO Data Science software to provide powerful visualisations, web-based analytics, and data science capabilities. This led to greater collaboration, key performance indicators for the agency, and new scientific applications for the benefit of the environment.