Cities Getting Smart
The technological upgrade of urbanized areas involves dozens or even hundreds of different decisions. So who is responsible for this work in developing countries?
Cities are equipping themselves to meet the challenges of our time. The threat of terrorists taking advantage of urban infrastructure and the need to combat common crime, the challenges arising from climate change and environmental problems, and the issues of carefully reconstructing and creating new cities as tens of millions of people move from rural areas into urban centers – all of these require huge, large-scale changes to technology. This kind of urban transformation is happening fastest in the rapidly developing nations of Asia and Latin America.
At the same time, modern technology offers opportunities previously unavailable to city administrators. In particular, we are talking about video surveillance, systems that can improve the flow of traffic to prevent congestion and pollution, and the optimization of electricity consumption and usage. In addition, modern systems that control water supply can monitor water quality. With these new conditions, the operation of various city services and monitoring systems should be done at an entirely new level. This is the key reason for different cities around the world implementing Smart City or Safe City systems. Systems like these can make city life not only safer, but also more convenient and comfortable, simplifying interactions between residents, city hall, and city services, while also giving citizens a way to become more actively engaged in city life. Different companies working in innovative areas and developing new technologies already offer systems to aggregate city data and give municipal employees access to this data in a single place.
From the Americas to Asia
Building a ‘smart city’ is a long and complicated process. For example, work on Japan’s Fujisawa Smart Town project started in 2007, and it is not expected to be complete until 2018. The project emphasizes environmental sustainability and energy saving technology.
There are plans to make more than 100 ‘smart’ cities and towns in India, with some of them being developed from scratch. “In the past, cities used to be built along river banks. Now we build them near roads and highways, but in the future the location of new cities will be defined by access to fiber optic networks and new-generation infrastructure,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. Smart cities are expected to raise the standard of living in India.
Smart city principles have already been implemented in the Guan Fuchen residential area in Kunming City, the provincial capital of Yunnan. Beijing and Shanghai are also becoming smart cities. Residents of the Chinese capital can use a mobile app that alerts citizens to emergencies and provides information about the weather, traffic, and more. Vehicles have been equipped with satellite navigation systems to monitor and bypass congested roads.
An Operations Control Center has been set up in Rio de Janeiro to make the city safer. The Op Center currently employs more than 400 people, monitoring the traffic situation and public safety in real time. Among other things, the center analyzes social media trends and trending key words to predict the behavior of city residents and anticipate disruptive behavior. During the rainy season, when there is the threat of landslides, the Op Center evaluates threats, warns people of potential dangers, and supports evacuation efforts.
Traffic in Singapore is controlled by computer, making it possible to eliminate congestion. Smart technologies have also been implemented in Cape Town – solar-powered water heaters have been made available to citizens, as one example. A street lighting control system in Lima, Peru adjusts lighting depending on how heavy traffic is.
Cooperation, the Smart Way
Rostec Corporation is working on smart city projects in Russia in collaboration with a number of international companies. To this end, Rostec signed an agreement in 2011 with Singapore Technologies Electronics Ltd. to explore possible collaboration in areas like smart transit control systems, disaster and emergency response equipment, comprehensive security control systems, and civil aviation. Rostec also works with the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) in the fields of electronics, optoelectronic hardware, and Smart City comprehensive security control systems. Going forward, Rostec has plans to engage in joint development of satellite navigation technologies combining the capabilities of Russia’s GLONASS and the Chinese BeiDou system. ZTE Corporation, a leading Chinese supplier of telecommunication equipment and networking solutions, deserves special mention; it plans to jointly develop versatile solutions with Ruselectronics Holding Company based on GoTa (Global Open Trunking Architecture) technology: digital trunking products, Smart City solutions, the Smart Transit System, and the Smart Antenna System. This technology was first implemented to ensure security at the National Games of the People’s Republic of China in Jiangsu Province. The system provided secure communications to tens of thousands of subscribers, including games organizers, medical personnel, security officers, and other employees. Rostec is working on implementing transit and transportation computerization systems to decrease congestion in densely populated cities and to reduce the number of lethal traffic accidents.
There are plans to make more than 100 ‘smart’ cities and towns in India, with some of them being developed from scratch. “In the past, cities used to be built along river banks. Now we build them near roads and highways, but in the future the location of new cities will be defined by access to fiber optic networks and new-generation infrastructure,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. Smart cities are expected to raise the standard of living in India
Projects developed by Rostec subsidiaries to implement electronic services for city residents make life in large cities more comfortable; they include solutions to pay for utilities, to park, to enroll in schools, and to set up doctor’s appointments, as well as to enforce ‘citizen control’ over various city decisions, actions, and services. Overall, cities that already have similar systems up and running are laying the foundations for increased transparency of local government decisions, which helps to boost public trust. These systems increase the efficiency of healthcare workers and make medical services more accessible, which should serve to increase life expectancy. They also make government services easier to access, encouraging citizens to use them more. Cities that have these systems in place enjoy more efficient collection of payments and fees, and therefore, larger effective revenues.
Successful solutions to develop smart cities were presented at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, which proposed state-of-the art technologies for urban development. Russian companies were exhibitors at both the 2014 Congress and at the Mobile World Congress 2015, the world’s largest trade fair for mobile technologies, at which, incidentally, Rostec signed its agreement with China’s ZTE.
Cities of Science
Several smart city projects have been announced in Russia, including Innopolis and Smart City Kazan. Innopolis is a project to create a new city in the Republic of Tatarstan for young professionals and skilled workers. It is set to have two technology parks, a university, a lab and educational center, and more. In addition, Innopolis will be a smart city with an extensive business infrastructure to accommodate thousands of software developers. According to current plans, Innopolis should have a population of 155,000 by 2027, including 60,000 highly skilled professionals and tradespeople.
Rostec has plans to engage in joint development of satellite navigation technologies combining the capabilities of Russia’s GLONASS and the Chinese BeiDou system. ZTE Corporation, a leading Chinese supplier of telecommunication equipment and networking solutions, deserves a special mention; it plans to jointly develop versatile solutions with Ruselectronics Holding Company based on GoTa (Global Open Trunking Architecture) technology: digital trunking products, Smart City solutions, the Smart Transit System, and the Smart Antenna System
Meanwhile, Kazan will soon get a naukograd (a ‘science city’). This will be an engineering center combining scientific research, development, and manufacturing. It is being created by Shvabe Holding, a Rostec subsidiary. Among other things, the naukograd is proposed to have full-cycle production of research-intensive items, from idea inception all the way to building competitive optoelectronic products or a piece of laser equipment.
A National Helicopter Manufacturing Center (cluster) has been created in Tomilino, a town outside Moscow. Manufacturing companies and R&D centers share infrastructure, complement one another, and boost their respective competitive advantages. Another Rostec subsidiary holding company, Ruselectronics, will create a microelectronics cluster in Novosibirsk. The United Engine Corporation (also a Rostec subsidiary) is involved in creating a regional innovative gas turbine manufacturing and electrical engineering cluster in the Yaroslavl Region. It unites not only the leading companies in the industry, but also small and medium-sized businesses and schools at different levels. A concentration of all the required facilities, including accommodations for employees, makes it possible to implement technologies that optimize the life and operation of such areas.
Rostec is also working on other things in addition to the development of Russian cities. One such project is the implementation of a fourth, full-service airport for the Moscow air transportation hub; it is to be located in Ramensky, a small town just outside the Russian capital. The passenger flow through Moscow and Moscow Oblast is constantly increasing, so the need for a new airport is clear.
Safe Cities and Bright Cities
Concern Sirius, a Rostec subsidiary, is involved in the implementation of the Safe City program. This is a public safety system, with provisions for smart transit and traffic, energy efficiency improvements, etc. Ruselectronics, another Rostec holding company, can already include Russian Safe City success stories on its corporate resume. The system was implemented in Krasnoyarsk in March 2013, helping to reduce crime in the city.
Another noteworthy project was Bright City, a project to install LED street lights throughout Nizhny Tagil. The city upgraded its street lighting and building illumination control systems. In some spots, lighting has improved several times over. In October 2014, Shvabe won a new contract to design, build, and subsequently service outdoor lighting in Nizhny Tagil. The project is expected to run until 2042 with a budget of approximately $216 million (12.5 billion RUB). Its implementation will help cut city lighting costs, redirecting the money saved to other needs.
‘Smart cities’ are cities that are safer and more convenient. In addition, the systematic approach helps to develop the electronic government program, making it possible to move on to specific social problems while using government money more efficiently. The IT competencies of e-cops can be upgraded to having electronic government tax systems, healthcare, and other official systems.
Smart cities are cities of the future that use new technologies. Rostec subsidiaries are happy to cooperate with international partners in this field, implementing new technologies and ideas, and developing Russian cities alongside global capitals. The implementation of these projects has only just begun. Smart cities are becoming more appealing for investors, and are turning into growth nodes with better competitive environments.