How can we say Big Data is Behind All the Smart Cities?

The population is among on the biggest challenges that the world is facing. But, the government's world over are incumbent on finding a solution to deal with the population outburst. This self-proclaimed initiative is not led by the government of populous countries alone, but by all countries where people are migrating to cities in search of better opportunities. This migration creates immense pressure on the resources in a city which needs to cater to millions. The infrastructure in these cities when conceptualized or erected was not meant to cater to so many people.

The governments are now responsible for ensuring that there are enough resources to take care of the needs and also at the same time enough opportunities to promote economic growth. The concept of smart cities is a step in the direction of distributing the pressure on major cities and making use of the existing resources efficiently and sustainably. Every country has a plan in this direction and the goals differ. But, one thing that is common between countries is that the plans are powered by big data.

How Smart Is Your City?

IESE Business School has published Cities in Motion Index. This has a list of all major cities and you would know where your city stands in comparison to the other cities in the world. The parameters include governance, public management, transportation, economy, environment, etc.

What Determines the Smartness?

A Smart city is described differently by different people and governments. So, the smartness of your city depends on what features would you consider smart. If you ask and average person living in a city what he or she would want in an ideal city, the features would likely include access to basic amenities (food, shelter, hospitals, water, light, clean and green surroundings, etc.), law and order, transportation, employment opportunities, etc. And, almost all the cities in the world provide these features. But, what differentiates an average city from a smart city is the implementation of facilities that are extraordinary.

How Can Big Data Make an Average City a Smart City?

To answer this question, let’s analyze each of the determinants of an average city and see how big data can transform that into a smart city.

You may like to watch a Video on “What is the Smart City?” Prepared by VINCI Energies

  • Basic Amenities: This includes having food, electricity, water, etc. Big data can help in efficient management of these resources. Let’s take electricity as an example. Big data can help analyze the existing resources, usage, and the excess or shortage. The information derived can be helpful in planning the resources in a better way to derive maximum benefit and identify deficit or surplus.
  • Law and Order: A smart city needs to be safe for everyone and big data can help in making the city safer. Analyzing crime data can help in identifying the areas that are prone to some types of crime. For example, cases of theft are more in some areas. Installing more CCTVs or lights in such areas, or designating more security at certain spots might reduce the cases making cities safer.
  • Transportation: As cities are getting populous, there is a need for better traffic management, public transportation, etc. Big data can analyze the peak traffic hours on routes that are prone to jams and help a government increase public transport at those times which will encourage people to avail of these services.
  • Employment Opportunities: People generally migrate in search of better livelihood and with proper data analysis the type of livelihood requirements from a certain area can be studied. The government can then works in this area and promote similar livelihood or other prospects that can curb migration to cities which will reduce population at those areas.

Here the latest Tweet by Ronald van Loon on “The Promises and Limitations of Big Data”

These are just some aspects where big data can work its magic. There is practically no end to using big data for achieving meaningful results. The smart city concept is just one imagination. To explain this further, let’s consider a smart city as a big private organization. Almost all privately-held organizations continuously work to set up work procedures that are efficient. They want to utilize their resources to the fullest, employ techniques that are sustainable like the green building concept, engage in CSR activities, etc. This is exactly what a smart city is expected to do on a much larger scale.

Big data provides all the information that one would probably need to power smart cities. But, the actual analysis requires Big Data Consulting Services provider who are experts in the field. The governments that intend to make use of big data (which is inevitable) to build smart cities need to employ companies or personnel who can work in a collaborative environment where data accumulation from the right sources is as important as analyzing it to make the right use.