September 3, 2020

Creating Smart Cities in 2020: Scalefocus Launches a Strategic Initiative

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Scalefocus is excited to announce that we are currently pursuing a strategic initiative in Smart Cities through a comprehensive platform, which aims to encompass and lead the digitalization of urban communities. Currently, our Smart Cities platform includes solutions for smart waste management and community parking management. 

The system relies on patent-pending network of affordable sensors, in conjunction with a cloud platform to deliver a scalable solution for the digitalization and next generation of community services in our cities. We decided to give you a brief overview of what we’ve been up to throughout the platform’s design process. 

 Smart Parking: 

Using the Smart Cities platform, citizens can easily plan where to park throughout the city by viewing a map with available parking spots and their states: Occupied, unoccupied, pending ticket, assigned ticket, confirmed pay, as well as the time allotted.  

The weekly operational hours are displayed, and a credit card payment automatically secures your spot and updates the system accordingly. Automatic parking spots can be requested near a person’s residence from the municipal authorities and used without payment.  

Traditional mobile text-based systems for parking spot management can still be used in conjunction with the smart cities platform through the concept of micro-zones and indeed enhance such systems functionally and analytically. 

For organizations managing the parking spaces, the platform gives the ability to easily track the profitability and usage of parking spots available in an efficient manner, manage entire sections of the city for events, and indeed use the available parking spaces and chartering new such spaces in a data-driven manner, in accordance with the usage patterns of the available spaces. 

Meanwhile, for the traffic wardens and ticket enforcing units, the system has clear to follow instructions, leading directly to the next offender and eliminating the need to patrol the streets. It is therefore extremely effective in either administering a ticket or assisting in the removal of punitive devices from vehicles. 

The most important impact of the system, beyond significantly increasing the efficiency of using parking spaces and generating additional revenue for communities is the decrease in unnecessary traffic in the most congested parts of the cities and reduce pollution in the cities we live in. 

Smart Waste:

We’re proud to be working on a highly cost-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional waste management solutions. The application and patent-pending sensor network enables to identify bin status – fill factor, fallen or flooded bins, and bins on fire. Garbage pickup routes are synchronized optimizing the collection process, and emissions and traffic are significantly decreased.

KPIs directly tied to the efficiency of waste management can be measured, tracked, and set as KPIs to subcontracting companies by communities. Analytics on waste generation patterns and new systems for waste management can be developed, using the data and analytics on the waste generation in the platform. Separated waste is weighed and analyzed with initiatives to produce less and promote reusing and recycling. 

The Platform’s Structure

Users:  

The Smart Cities platform follows a hierarchical userbased control. 

  1. Root account:Thisis the system administrator, to which all data, user control and functionalities are visible. 
  2. Municipalities: Theyobserve dashboards, oversee progress of contractors, whether KPIs are being met.
  3. Potential contractors or companies: These are users thatofferdifferent services (garbage, water, heating). They are the direct users of the platform as they will access useful data such as routes for garbage pickup, damaged containers or ones in flames and need of repair. The contractors see whatever applications the municipalities give them access to. 
  4. Citizens:Depending on the application,the city’s citizens can view and access certain features, information and analytics. 

Groups: 

Groups, or organizations, also follow a hierarchical tree structure. This makes the creation of sub-organizations possible in which custom data can be segregated into.  

Organizations can be municipalities, companies, any contractors and so on. Each organization has assigned applications — either Smart Waste or Smart Parking.  

In addition, the applications are linked to a network of edge devices, which are accessed by a set number of users with assigned roles. The subscription-based model is dependent on the number of devices and users, which a municipality agrees upon setting up as required. 

The Process: 

  1. Choose an appropriate group name  
  2. Assign roles for each application — for Smart Parking: mayor, accountant, driver; for Smart Waste: garbage collector, data analyzer, device technician, etc. 
  3. Assign users to roles — John Smith, applications: 2: Roles: 1  

The accumulated data in the applications comes with their own set of functionalities, e.g. export documents into Excel, review a dashboard, reassign a user. 

What is a Smart City? 

A smart city uses technology to solve infrastructural and societal problems, while promoting sustainability and increasing operational efficiency. Its citizens are at the core of its framework. By focusing on continuous development of its key components, a smart city aims to substantially improve our daily lives. Here is an overview of its components and the technologies that link them together.

  • Smart Living: Optimizes and protects water supply, saves fuel costs, optimizes traffic flow and strives for better utilization of urban area through real-time parking availability, offers location-based services and city event info. 
  • Smart Environment: Aims to reduce carbon footprint through use of autonomous technologies that monitor overall environmental health and prevent any negative impact, promotion of renewable energy sources, practice of green energy policies and procedures. 
  • Smart Mobility: Ensures a fully accessible, open and strategically linked network for optimal movement and safe passage of citizens and vehicles. 
  • Smart Economy: Offers an entrepreneurial and innovative culture, inspires productivity, provides local and global interconnectivity. 
  • Smart Governance: Includes citizens in the decision-making process digitally, online administrative services, democratic engagement and electoral rights. 
  • Smart People: Embraces a creative atmosphereinclusive education and society, as well as regular training opportunities.
  • Internet of Things: A system of physical objects with unique identifiers (UIDs) that talk to each other, and easily transfer data through a network, without the aid of human-to-human or human-to-machine interaction. 
  • Internet of Services: Web-based interactive services with information that is easily accessed and shared through social networks and tagging and is of mutual use to human and machine. 
  • Internet of Data: An organized network that embeds virtual tags which record all activity of passing data entities since their creation. The information is later used for data identification, data tracing or data analysis. 
  • Internet of People: Humans and their personal devices play an active role in the internet through a centralized infrastructure of interconnected peer networks in which applications are tailored to work around a person’s unique day to day needs, while also communicating with users of similar profile interests and exchanging information. 

Source: Prairie View A&M University 

Key Trends 

The United Nations estimates that by 2030, 67% of our population will be living in cities. This figure was 54% in 2014. The movement of middle-class families towards urban centers in search of better opportunities, along with the transformation of emerging economies into global players, like China, will create a strong demand for smart city technologies. 

In 2019, the smart cities market was worth $624.81 billion. Green technology being the driving force of its success, it is projected to reach a value of $1712.83 billion by 2025, with a 18.30% CAGR from 2020 to 2025 (Mordor Intelligence).  

The largest smart cities market is currently in Europe, focusing on climate and energy. Europe holds 45% worth of the smart cities market followed by Asia-Pacific with 35% and North America 20% (Markets and Markets).  

Asia Pacific will experience the highest market growth in the next five years. India and China are singled out as the nations that will benefit the most from the development and expansion of smart cities in previously rural surrounding regions. Compared to China’s impressive 500 smart city projects that are ready for construction, India is catching up with 731 approved projects, and 100 planned for construction by 2022 (Mordor Intelligence). 

The two major challenges faced are security of IOT devices and high costs of building refurbishment. System security developers are forced to rethink creative strategies and implement specific security measures to IoT devices, in order to eliminate the threat of enterprise data breaches and protect consumer privacy. Meanwhile, the question whether to demolish or restore older buildings is creating dialogue between defensive citizens looking to preserve their communities against local governments on a tight budget. 

The impact of Covid-19 has resulted in an increased demand for telehealth services. In addition, there is a projected 12-20% price increase in the cost for IoT sensors and hardware necessary to facilitate physician checkups and overall health monitoring without physical contact (Markets and Markets).

Let’s Build a Better Future Together  

What is your take on smart cities? Is your city implementing smart parking and smart waste management strategies? Do you wish to be a part of that process by taking an active role alongside modern technologiesReach out to us and let’s get the conversation going. 

We’re thrilled to keep sharing new initiatives and developments on our projects with you, especially when they help communities grow stronger and inspire positive change. Follow us on social media to keep up with our latest online events, webinars, podcasts, and get an inside look at the talented teams and individuals who work at Scalefocus.