Where will big data have the biggest impact in smart cities?

You cannot escape mention of Smart Cities today because the biggest technology giants, the IBMs, Cisco’s and Seimens’ of the world are at the forefront of the news flow. This is hardly surprising considering the potential market opportunity – the UK Government estimated that the worldwide spend on building and running smart cities would reach $ 400 Billion per year by 2020. We had written previously about how Smart Cities were, essentially, being built around a big data driven strategy. At this market size, that’s a mega big data play – so where is big data likely to have the maximum impact in the smart city of the future?

At its core the idea of the smart city is straight forward – the objective is to give those who plan for and manage the city timely information about various parameters that they care about. The people who matter should then be able to leverage this information to take the right decisions and ensure that those decisions are implemented accurately and speedily – effectively get services to the citizens who need them exactly when they need them.

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This is one of those use-cases that is spoken of often. Popular examples abound of RFID tagged vehicles being monitored by smart systems that are then able to generate information about traffic patterns. Planners can plan for and act to clear traffic congestion by rerouting incoming loads. In addition today, the location-awareness built into the smartphones of the drivers and pedestrians add a new dimension since smartphones can consume information as well as relay it. A powerful example of how “intelligently” smart machines can put this information to use is provided by Google’s sensor-laden driver-less cars. Information generated by this combination of sensors and smartphones is being put to use effectively to locate and manage scarce resources like empty parking slots (only when you’ve driven around a lot for 20 minutes can you realise just how scarce this resource is!).;

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