As the world ushers in the digital age, many countries and cities aspire to become smart. However, what does being a smart nation, or smart city entail?
Generally, discussions about smart cities involve the deployment of cutting-edge technologies, such as integrating internet of things (IoT) sensors into an intelligent platform to analyze data, automating tasks, and managing resources in real-time.
These different components are often connected via high-speed networks used to enhance the operational efficiency of the various elements that make up a city, such as its transportation systems, power and water supply, municipal waste management, law enforcement, and other public amenities.
Nations, therefore, must learn to address the growing demand of the digital population and facilitate technology integration and modernization in a sustainable manner.
Of course, people are at the heart of all smart cities, and any deployment of technology should center around using data to simplify life and enhance comfort, according to Schneider Electric VP Commercial for Power Products APAC O’Niel Dissanayake.
“The best way to address any challenges is to predict, capture, and measure the magnitude of the challenge, which is possible with data,” Dissanayake told Tech Wire Asia in an exclusive interview.
However, Dissanayake added that data alone is useless. If it is to add value, it must be coupled with other tools and integrated platforms that create actionable insights and help solve real problems.
A smart city should not come at a cost
Dissanayake asserted that, though capital investments by various stakeholders are required to realize all the elements of a smart city, it should never come at a cost.
This is because, the smarter a nation becomes, the more affordable it should get, thanks to enhanced efficiencies.
Systems that make up smart cities help public and private organizations, as well as service providers, to reduce and eradicate wastages caused by antiquated infrastructures and operations, which pays for itself in the long-run.
“Don’t think energy losses are a loss to the utility company. Energy losses are factored into the unit cost,” explained Dissanayake. “Smart cities will make a better quality of life affordable.”
Innovations present opportunities
Dissanayake believes that there has never been a more opportune time for nations, specifically in the APAC region, to pursue smart city and urban tech transformation initiatives.
The emerging technologies that businesses have used to engineer their success can be used to transform cities into smarter metros reckons Dissanayake.
Though developing skills and competencies to support these ambitions will take time, the APAC smart cities executive believes the journey should go on concurrently with the transformation journey — instead of waiting around until a specific milestone is reached.
Companies and solution providers should also ensure that the technology and platforms they develop are simplified and easily deployed, without too much hassle.
“Let the R&D workload be heavy, but the tech integrations and operations, light and simple,” Dissanayake advised smart city developers.