Why every CIO needs to closely watch Smart Cities

What do Coca-Cola and smart cities have in common?

The answer is in the IoT components baked into the modern vending machine. Coca-Cola has been recognized as a leader in developing vending machines that can shift electric consumption levels based on low and peak energy-use patterns. The aggregate of energy saved by thousands of vending machines across an urban area can have a significant effect on carbon footprint.

In 18 months of research on smart city transformation, I’ve noticed just how many technologies like the IoT vending machine have become, organically, part of the smart city fabric. It usually happens without an official approval or purchase by the public sector.

In essence, the city integrates a product or service simply by the fact that large numbers of citizens are using it. And with the viral proliferation of technology across modern cities, the challenges and opportunities this presents are very real.

For example, the WAZE mobile app serves as a means for drivers to navigate around traffic jams, and the resulting analytics can be sold to city traffic planners to help optimize traffic patterns at certain times of day.

Uber has become much more than simply a ride-share service. The data exhaust is epic, and the resulting analytics has led many cities to subsidize Uber rides as an extension of their own city transportation infrastructure. Other cities have synchronized rail schedules with the Uber app to provide “last mile” service to the commuter’s final destination.

Big data in urban areas is connecting dots in ways never before realized.

Like in the old TV game show “Concentration,” data analysts, enabled by smart IoT technologies, are finding more and more matches on the city’s dashboard. For example, FitBit and Apple Health apps combine exercise info and map data with geolocation, giving urban planners and population health experts increased insight into pedestrian exercise patterns. This could lead to collaboration on new parks and recreation areas or other health initiatives.

“Nutritional terrain mapping,” by firms such as ESRI, have helped companies and local governments discover “nutritional deserts” in urban areas. In Lansing, Michigan, the result was to create a produce geodatabase that stored the locations and inventories for 94 produce retailers. The mapping went one step further, analyzing how long it would take for a nutritionally minded customer to walk to the oasis.

The never-ending demand on IT to better understand “the business” now extends to analyzing how technology-savvy urban dwellers in smart cities might bump into your efforts — and what you can learn from the interaction.

Has your city or business integrated products and services based on citizen/employee engagement?

RELATED LINKS

Intelligent infrastructure: The critical role of analytics in smart cities

Smart city technologies and the ‘return on citizen investment

Ways smart cities derive data insight from mainstream apps

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