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A Smarter Approach to Smart Cities: Unifying the Use Cases


If you think about the biggest and broadest applications of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, in terms of both geography and functionality, it’s hard to come up with anything bigger than Smart City initiatives. They cover a huge swath of territory – from public facilities management to fire detection, from waste management to smart parking – and they marshal a multitude of technologies to do it.

Some cities tackle the move to a citizen-centric future city on a very broad front. Dubai is a great example. The Smart Dubai initiative took an all-inclusive approach, developing a world-class infrastructure to support a wide range of current use cases, with plenty of room to add more in the future. Take a look at the video below for a quick overview of some spectacular results.

(Here’s more about how HPE is helping Dubai to make accessing government services easier, faster and more satisfying.)

Most cities start with a tightly focused approach, though. They look for those first use cases to build out and provide some quick value, be that through increased operational efficiency or new services for citizens. Once they've scored some success with that first use case, they can use it as justification for a second project. Improving the city’s budget is often a primary goal; if all goes well, the first project may even free up some funds for the next.

Transformation or fragmentation?

All of which makes perfect sense. But there’s a risk lurking in this step-by-step model – the risk of fragmentation. There are lots of partners who specialize in delivering, for example, smart lighting, smart parking, or any number of other standalone use cases. But what you likely end up with is a different platform for every use case: a different management console, different visualization tools. You could be creating silos of data, possibly all on different cloud services. It all adds up to increased management overhead and reduced value yield from the data.

What cities need is a single platform that enables them to start small and add use cases as they go along but without fragmentation of the data or systems – and, most important, without having to build the platform in its entirety, right from the word go. You want to work towards a fully-fledged common data fabric as your end state without necessarily having to start with that as your first investment.

With unified data, you can look at disparate use cases, run correlations across them, and get insights that you wouldn't get if you keep that data in silos. You can piggy back services off each other. For example, let’s say you have a smart lighting project that places LEDs across the city to save money and reduce environmental impact. And these lights are networked because you want to be able to dim them when needed or interact with them in some way. Why not consider building on that to provide metro wi-fi? You already have the posts and connections in, and you may have extra bandwidth. Maybe you can team up with a partner to take on the internet service provider role.

Smart architecture for Smart Cities

HPE Pointnext has developed a smart city platform to help users unify their use cases. The graphic shows a simplified view of the general architecture, which may vary in the details with particular use cases. A smart parking project, for example, might leverage Apache Spark analytics in the services enablement layer, HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems in the infrastructure layer, and connectivity covering city car parks or street parking at the communication layer.

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  A crucial feature of the platform is its ability to integrate products from a broad range of providers in HPE’s partner ecosystem. Smart City initiatives, as I said, cover a multitude of technologies, and there’s no way one company can do it all. HPE has a long history and deep expertise in building effective partnerships. As your primary point of contact for building the platform, we can bring in the right vendor, or group of vendors. We’ll also ensure a smooth handover to the city, or whoever is going to run the platform for you, once everything is up and running.

The Smart Cities platform is backed by the expertise of our Center of Excellence (CoE) for AI, Data and Emerging Technologies. The team includes data and AI scientists, technologists, architects and engineers who develop and deliver new and cutting-edge advisory and professional services working with HPE Labs, HPE product teams and partners.

City leaders who are interested in kicking off a Smart City project with this holistic approach should investigate our HPE AI Transformation Workshop. It’s a great way to explore the value of AI for your organization. Or contact HPE Pointnext Digital Transformation Services to discuss the use cases you have in mind and learn how we can help.

And by the way, hot off the presses: read how HPE has partnered with Singapore-based gridComm to deliver a first-of-its-kind streetlight management solution in Taoyuan City, Taiwan.

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About the Author:

 Andy Longworth cropped.jpgAndy Longworth is a senior solution architect for AI, Data and Emerging Technologies working in HPE’s worldwide Centre of Excellence (CoE). Within the CoE, Andy shapes, develops and delivers new and cutting edge advisory and professional services within the HPE Pointnext services organization of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Andy is a seasoned consultant with extensive global experience in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and IoT. This experience spans across many technology domains – from security, data centre transformation and cloud. When it comes to technology, Andy is an open source advocate with years of experience in the Hadoop, OpenStack and Linux amongst other open source projects. Typically Andy engages with teams to define solutions and strategies that answer the customers’ business needs

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