Smart City Era Promises Big Improvement for Urban Ecosystems

An urban scene.

Connected technology is ushering in a new era of “Smart Cities”, which promises to improve the quality of life for billions of people around the world.

Smart cities — which are using technology to make urban areas safer, more efficient, and more livable — represent the transformative power of the Internet of Things. Now, as the new 5G wireless standard is deployed, data transfer will be even faster and more reliable. The transition from 4G to 5G will facilitate the shift to ubiquitous connectivity.

“Our strategy at Intel is to focus on open-standards based data-centric solutions, including artificial intelligence and, more specifically, computer vision technology, which will be powered by 5G infrastructure,” says Sameer Sharma, General Manager for Intel’s Smart Cities IoT Solutions… “Our recent launch of OpenVINO toolkit to enable Vision-based intelligence at the edge across multiple architectures is a great example of this. Data from technologies, such as autonomous driving, will be analyzed instantly, providing real-time insights that revolve around IoT connectivity.”

Sharma says that 5G will unlock the potential for utilizing connected devices, from smart cameras to vibration sensors, to collect data that will enable better management of everything from city streets to transit systems.

Economic viability is important, says Sharma, because of the public policy imperative to find cost-effective solutions to the problems facing urban areas. “In general, cities are stretched in terms of their budgets,” he says, “They are thinking about how to efficiently utilize all of the assets they have. For example, better traffic management can be an economic alternative to building a new highway. The ultimate goal is not necessarily to build roads, it’s to improve mobility, and do a better job of getting people from point A to point B.”

Sharma says that social media and awareness of new technology is increasing the motivation of urban planners and politicians to implement smarter solutions to problems such as traffic congestion, parking shortages, security, and first-responder response times. “Citizens are demanding more from their leaders,” he says. “I think this will motivate policymakers, and result in the right decisions when it comes to using digital technology.”

A recently released report from Juniper Research, sponsored by Intel, looks at the evolution of smart cities in the context of mobility, healthcare, public safety and productivity. The report shows the potential to save city residents three weeks of time every year when smart technologies are deployed, underscoring why city-dwellers may soon be pushing for cutting edge IoT solutions.

According to the report, smart traffic systems, including dynamic traffic control and connected parking will yield a mobility savings of 60 hours a year. Better public safety, informed by machine learning algorithms that enable proactive policing of high crime areas, will yield a savings of 35 hours. Preventative healthcare apps and telemedicine will save urbanites nine hours a year. Finally, more efficient delivery of city services will improve administrative productivity, saving residents 21 hours annually.

Singapore tops the list of smart cities, according to Juniper. But other major metros, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London, and Seoul are all on the list of top cities implementing technology solutions to improve mobility, health, safety, and productivity.

Many smaller cities are also embracing IoT. For example, San Diego has deployed an intelligent network citywide in an effort to optimize traffic and parking, and facilitate better energy management.

“Fostering innovation and improving infrastructure are important to enhancing the lives of all San Diegans,” says San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This new technology will give the city and developers the opportunity to make our neighborhoods safer and smarter.”

The network in San Diego will include 3,200 intelligent sensor nodes that are turning street lights into connected devices. These nodes run on Intel IoT technology, Intel Atom processors, and Wind River software. The system has the ability to extract massive amounts of data, and to produce intelligent analytics in near real-time.

San Diego’s use of smart technology is indicative of how connectivity can benefit a city. “San Diego did not just install cameras for public safety reasons,” says Sharma. “Their system has the potential to handle everything from traffic management and smart parking to license plate recognition and pedestrian recognition.”

Moreover, adds Sharma, San Diego has a scalable solution. “It will get better over time as computer vision and artificial intelligence updates are made over-the-air,” he says. “So, instead of thinking of a camera as a camera, think of it as a combination of an eye and a brain for the city.”

Smart Cities is now more than a concept…increasingly it is a reality.  Learn more about Smart City Solutions from Intel.

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Sameer Sharma

About Sameer Sharma

Sameer Sharma is the Global GM (Smart Cities & Transportation) for IOT Solutions at Intel and a thought leader in IOT/AI ecosystem, having driven multiple strategic initiatives to scale over the past 20+ years. Sameer leads a global team that incubates and scales new growth categories and business models for Intel. His team also focuses on establishing leadership across the industry playing a pivotal role in deploying solutions for the development of smart cities around the world—an important effort in furthering the goal of sustainability. These solutions include Intelligent Transportation, AI/Video, Air Quality Monitoring and Smart Lighting. With far-reaching impact, each of these solutions is providing local governments a plethora of data to enhance the daily quality of life for citizens while simultaneously promoting responsible practices to protect the environment. As a leading authority on Cities and AI, Sameer is a frequent keynote speaker at top global events and has been featured in publications such as Economist, Forbes, WSJ and New York Times. His high-energy talks cover pragmatic examples of impact and reflect his passion and belief that technology can and must be a force for good in our society. Sameer has an MBA from The Wharton School at UPenn, and a Masters in Computer Engineering from Rutgers University. He holds 11 patents in the areas of IOT and Mobile. He can be reached through LinkedIn ( or Twitter (@sameer_iot)

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