Shaping today’s smart cities
As our physical and digital worlds become intertwined, the absorption of new technologies in smart cities is most likely to materialise in today’s world. In as much the same way that all large-scale inventions changed society, from the creation of fire to mobile phones, humans have adapted to a new normal and found space within smart cities to evolve, innovate and create. As ZKTeco we are at the forefront of supporting cities to use these connections to realise their advantages.
A concept that integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the network (the Internet of things or IoT) to optimise the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens is the ultimate goal of a smart city concept. While technology forms an integral component of the smart city concept, it is the integration of the various technology components and solutions that delivers real value and transforms a city into a smart city.
For all the advancements in technology and complicated algorithms of today, a smart city retains the goal of using technology to make things work better. The quality of life has significantly improved in the last century mainly as regards access to services. Digitalisation has enabled cities to realise opportunities and face challenges. Although the potential and readiness of each city have reflected their unique challenges, what they have in common is their effort to use digital transformation as an opportunity for lasting positive change.
The value of each innovation depends on our capacity to absorb and take advantage of it. New technologies alone, without any social impact, do not have a value. The corporate sector can play an instrumental role in assisting local government to fast-track these initiatives with their integration skills and expertise.
The potential of a city with a data-driven infrastructure is exciting but also requires an adjustment of expectations. Smart cities are not the answer to all our problems nor completely transform the way we live overnight. Rather they are to be incremental transformations that can enhance our lives through a combination of small projects and wider infrastructure changes underpinned by data sharing. Existing cities are finding innovative ways to use data and technology to improve their systems and new cities are being built from the ground up with ‘smart’ infrastructure to improve the lives of those living within them. The ambitions are grand, and the action is necessary.
Today, surveillance cameras and facial recognition terminals have advanced so much that they are used to monitor public and private spaces and to identify people throughout the world. Smart cities are the future, and they offer numerous benefits for all parties concerned. However, ultimately it is a combination of integrating the many disparate solutions and creating a communication platform that will determine the success of any initiative.
Corporates that have the necessary integration skills can assist greatly in successful smart city initiatives. Also, without buy-in from the citizens, any venture will inevitably fail. The challenge in South Africa is not the technology but finding the right way to implement it and integrate with the right partner and to ensure citizens realise and understand the benefits it provides.