A Smart City Is a Connected City

For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Let that sink in for a minute.

Now that urban centers are housing more than half the world, do they have a responsibility to respond faster to local and global changes and challenges? Should we expect essential city services to be connected to one another so that the flow of information is easy and continuous? Yes.

During the month of May, Intergraph Canada spoke at two municipal government conferences, URISA and MISA. Our theme was “Smart City”, and we presented technologies and solutions that enable the evolution of smart cities. We focused on the power of mobile applications and how they could be used to help create a connected smart city. For example, mobile applications can be used to connect a city’s enterprise software system to field workers so that information would flow from the field to the office with ease. Here are some highlights of our presentation topics.

What’s missing in current mobile solutions?

Current mobile apps use web services to pass information, mostly GIS data, back and forth when connected or a proprietary or local database in disconnected mode. These mobile connections are integrated into a single city service within the municipality but are typically limited to one connection.  Mobile applications are missing information from other data sources beyond GIS data like sensor data (AVL, traffic, meters) and business systems (asset management, permits, business documents). So what does that mean for cities? When cities and metropolitan areas don’t have integration with all software systems using mobile apps, they miss the opportunity for gains in efficiency. For example:

  • Field crew validation of incident reports  and/or service requests via notifications
  • Elimination of paper-based field data collection, inspection processes and compliance reporting
  • Making real-time informed decisions in the field by accessing all relevant information such as inspection reports, permits, as-builts, and more

What’s needed to extract more value from mobile apps?

A strong integration hub on the backend feeds mobile applications with an integrated view of all data into a single window in a mobile application which moves beyond the traditional GIS interoperability. This complete integration hub can:

  • Work in connected and disconnected modes
  • Receive real-time notifications of service requests
  • Display multiple business systems data in real-time

With a mobile application as a single common workplace, municipalities and their employees would be able to quickly to analyze, process, and approve multiple data types. Consider this: What if mobile applications and notification systems were able to connect information from employees in the office to employees in the field? For example, when a work order is generated, the field worker is automatically notified. The worker can address the work order, make he needed repairs, and close the work order. Once the work order is closed, a notification is sent back to the employees in the office.

On the surface, this example might appear to have a “so what” factor. But if you look deeper at what’s happening from an organizational process level, you’ll find that by using mobile applications, the company is pushing data into its systems faster, reducing human error, and making data transferal more seamless. As a result, tomorrow’s smart cities can save their employees’ time and themselves money by moving away from paper-based systems. And that’s just the first step.

If you would like to earn more about implementing a mobile strategy into your workplace, please contact pamela.vanasseldonk@intergraph.com or comment below for more information.

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