How Might We Make Smart Cities relevant to the People?

A smart city is a technologically modern urban area that uses different types of electronic methods, voice activation methods and sensors to collect specific data. Information gained from that data is used to manage assets, resources and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve operations across the city. — Wikipedia

What is more critical besides focusing on bringing Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Internet of Things, etc., to Smart Cities? Instead of how these technologies are relevant to each of them, I feel it is more critical to know how all these can be made applicable to the people living in these cities. As a person, likely, we do not care about these technologies until we know how they can be relevant and beneficial to us.

We have been hearing a lot of high-level statements and claims on how these technologies can bring benefits to the city. How things will get more intelligent, and 5G is a game-changer enabling all these real-time connectivities. However, do you feel that it’s relevant to you and if you care much about how it can bring value to your daily living? Instead of being technology focus, can we be more people focus and tell how these can be relevant and helpful to them?

Sharing a Frictional Story

A biker suddenly lost control of the bike and ended up behind the bushes after hitting the kerb. The road was empty, and no other motorist witnessed this incident to render help to this biker. However, the fall detection algorithm of the biker’s wearable detected an impact and a fall. Without a positive indicator that the wearer is conscious, the wearable sent the GPS location to local emergency services and the Next of Kin.

Upon getting this trigger, the Emergency Medical Services Command Centre (EMSCC) received real-time updates of the biker’s vital from the wearable and relayed this information and available medical history to the ambulance. The EMSCC triggered the CCTV located nearest to the accident site to know the current situation on the ground and share it with the ambulance. They can also view the past recording to find out the actual cause of the accident and if there is any foul play involved. An AI system manages the traffic lights automatically to regulate the traffic and clear the ambulance’s way to reach within the fastest possible time.

When the ambulance picks up the biker and transfers to the nearest hospital, the vital is sent from the ambulance to the hospital, enabling them to prepare themselves to receive this patient. Similarly, the traffic lights are cleared in advance to expedite the transfer speed. An operator is relaying this information received by the EMSCC to keep the Next of Kin updated on the situation.

There can be more

The above is a simple illustration, and we can do more in a more complex situation.

  1. The ambulance heading to the site might not have a medication that the patient needs after browsing through the medical history. A drone can be dispatched with the drug from a hospital and sent on-site to the ambulance.
  2. Casualties need to transport to the hospital, yet they are not in critical need of a medical team to be with them. So instead, a self-driving vehicle with vital equipment transports them to the hospital, easing the work of the ambulance.
  3. If the ambulance is too far away, the EMSCC can trigger medical personnel nearby to provide support. The medical personnel might be at home or in their place of practice. In addition, people can enrol themselves into this volunteer program to render help when necessary.

Human is the Focus

There could be more possibilities where we can leverage existing technologies to bring benefits to the community as a whole. However, the resistance to providing funding to such is that while these are important, it is not really “sexy” and cutting edge. Nevertheless, we are already in the future, and we need to apply these available technologies.

To let people accept and embrace smart cities, share the stories on how these smart technologies can integrate them and are relevant to them at the primary and more fundamental level.



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