Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Regional and municipal governments are striving to deliver higher levels of service and public safety, but are challenged with their ability to balance the improvement of existing services while creating new ones. One solution is utilizing the vast stores of data available to identify opportunities to efficiently deliver services in law enforcement, incident and emergency management sectors. As a result, this will help engage stakeholders with open data initiatives to create innovative programs—in effect becoming a smart city. Cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) can provide the means to acquire these data driven decision making capabilities quickly by placing advanced services within the reach of virtually any size city.
Frost & Sullivan’s recent white paper, Smart City as a Service–Using Analytics to Equip Communities for Data-Driven Decisions, analyzes the situation that most cities are in: flood of data from sensors, cameras, citizens, systems in storage, and more coming in every day—most of it never used. Yet those cities that apply advanced analytics to this data are able to unlock the hidden value in it and make better decisions with new insight into crime prevention, emergency mitigation, etc. The research finds that a number of cities are leading this charge, and with new analytic capabilities available as a service, many more can easily, quickly, and cost-effectively join the ranks of smart cities.
Citizens and stakeholders are demanding higher levels of public safety and service from government and municipally owned organizations. Advanced data management tools and analytics can help mayors, police chiefs and city managers meet these demands, but many cities do not have the personnel or skill set to implement or support these capabilities on municipal or departmental computing platforms.
“Many cities may feel a pressure to try to implement advanced analytics on their own because of concerns over data security or privacy, or that the capital costs are too large,” says Frost & Sullivan Information & Communication Technologies Growth Consulting VP Brian Cotton. “This may drive them to take on too much that they are not well equipped to handle or to abandon their aspirations because the challenges are too great.”
Cities need to reflect and understand that for their specific situation, they may not be able to do all the implementation, operation, and maintenance necessary to support an advanced analytics capability. However, by procuring these services on the cloud, they can let the providers take care of the technical issues so that they can focus on running their cities. Cloud solutions can be particularly effective in helping municipal agencies that have critical service mandates which depend on collaboration with sister agencies and adjacent jurisdictions. Police and public safety leaders, for instance, can use the cloud to access cost-effective solutions that enable data sharing and scalability.
“Mayors and their IT staff owe it to themselves to evaluate the opportunities to implement a smart city as a service,” said Cotton. “Technology developers, such as IBM, have a range of solutions that can give a city the capabilities to plan better and make governance decisions on the basis of hard data and, in the end, do a better job of serving their citizens and stakeholders.”