Smart cities and Tech Evolution - XXXIII Perceptive Infrastructure - Control Centers

The new Operations Center in Rio provides the incident commander and responders with a single, unified view of all the information that they require for situational awareness. Credit: IBM

Some cities have started to integrate the data originating from several sensors networks, like energy distribution, raod traffic, public service availability and location and much more into a comprehensive representation providing the pulse of a city.

In some experiment going on in Como by Milan Polytechnic security cameras are used to measure pedestrian traffic and the interest generated by shop windows, arts display in squares and streets, information panels.

In Rio de Janeiro, IBM has built a comprehensive city control center that provide at a glance the status of the city enabling prompt reaction to unanticipated events.

A control center can also be very useful if it become a tool to create the city digital signature. By constantly monitoring the varios parameter of a city the center accumulate a history that can be analysed to intercept patterns (the digital signature). At this point any divergence from the digital signature generates an alarm, unless there is a reason for such a divergence, like a scheduled concert attracting an unusual number of people in a certain area. Notice that also a concert has its own digital signature, so, as an example, the detection of a disordered flow of people may indicate a problem.

Many of the data flows are not owned by the municipality and need to be negotiated with each owner. Additionally, their representations may not fit the one desired by the city managers so it may not be good to just “connect a display” to visualise the rendering used by the data owner. It is usually better to get the raw data and process/render tham in line with the goals and look&feel desired. The cooperation among different players in the city environment and the municipality that is required for the data aggregation and display in the control center is also fostering an effective cooperation in the actions that may require joint effort.

A control center, at least most of it, should become a tool to communicate with citizens. One coud replicate the displays in several places in the city, like railway stations, bus stops, schools. This help in keeping people informed and highten the perception that their Municipality is in control, cares and wants to share with them the “running” of the city.

Part of the control center display should be tied to social media analyses, intercepting citizens tweets, post, messages relevant to the city.

Finally, a Municipality should see its control center as a “Service Provider” and can monetize some of the services, since they can provide useful information to biz operating in the city.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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