Making cities smart will take time and effort. It is critical to create a policy and regulatory environment that enables all the stakeholders. This shall be a nuanced approach to a smart, and yet sustainable roadmap for urban development, emphasizes Deepak NG, Director Innovative Business & Global Affairs, Dassault Systèmes, in an exclusive interview with Geospatial World.
What are some of the major challenges that lie towards transitioning to a smart city and what are the ways to overcome them?
With growing globalization and urbanization, development of smart cities has turned out to be a necessity. But converting a constructed city into a smart city comes with several challenges that need to be addressed at the earliest. Major challenges that lie ahead of smart city development are that the traditional methods and techniques of urban planning are outdated and can’t be implemented. Along with this, the challenges of available resources, required skill sets for smart city planning and development, unavailability of infrastructure and the coordination and collaboration between multiple stakeholders poise severe challenges to smart city developments.
To build a modern day smart city we need smarter designing techniques to guarantee success and resourcefulness of the city. Proper designing and simulation of the essential infrastructure need to be taken with the utmost priority as the infrastructure will lay the foundation of a smart city. 3D modeling and simulation should be used to test the prototypes virtually before they are passed on to the construction phase. Deployment of advanced technology solutions and its integration will be the key to maintaining collaboration between several stakeholders.
What should be done to encourage a broad collaboration between decision-makers, technology providers and all other smart city stakeholders?
Today, if you look at any department or government office they have adopted one or the other technology to support day to day activities, it’s becoming very important that we reduce standalone methods which is resulting in delays. While there are many service providers offering best in class technology, decision makers are struggling with too many data maintained in an unstructured environment. Thus, a collaborative platform which can host and integrate different applications to meet the current need of Smart city requirement is essential. For example, many startups and technology companies are coming up with very good quick start applications but they are implemented in silos. If we can integrate and provide one single dashboard for all the stakeholders will result in a single source of truth, which will help in cost reduction, fewer prototypes, timely delivery and faster decision making.
What is the future of smart cities and how to enhance our technological capability and preparedness?
The notion of smart cities is always perceived as what the future will look like, but it is not the sole purpose for the inception of smart cities. Rather requirement of sufficient water resources, universal access to clean energy, adequate transportation facilities and sense of security are some of the major reasons behind the emergence of smart cities in India. With the rapid increase in urbanization, it is expected that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will move into urban areas, thus posing a serious challenge for city planners to make available the basic amenities and resources to the population.
Smart Cities coupled with the latest technology innovations have been heralded as the key to tackle the challenges posed by rapid urbanization. Smart cities create a place where everything is connected and technology operates behind the scenes to ensure that all the elements of daily life run smoothly.
Smart technologies such as a municipal network of optical fiber, free Wi-Fi, routed street lighting and sensors to monitor air quality would help smart cities evolve more and serve the society as a whole. Technology innovations in the engineering and construction space provide an extra mile for the successful establishment of a smart city.
3D city, data analytics, simulation have helped the smart city project managers in collaboration and management of the complex projects. One of the major contributions of technology to the cities of the future is the relevance of the bundles of data that needs to be analyzed for customization and more viability of smart cities.
Talking specifically about India, which is an emerging economy with a rapidly urbanizing population, what, in your view, is the way forward for the country’s ambitious smart city project?
Making cities smart will take time and effort. It is critical to create a policy and regulatory environment that enables all the stakeholders. This shall be a nuanced approach to a smart, and yet sustainable roadmap for urban development. Smart cities need to be sustainable as well in order to ensure successful returns on investments made in developing them. It is projected that developing smart cities will demand substantial investments, which will be locked in for the long term, and in turn, shape India’s urban future. Without an urban development policy and an urban planning framework, private sector dominance at this juncture of urbanization is indeed a challenging situation.
IoT and 5G would be the bedrock of smart city and interconnectivity would be crucial for all the vital services in a smart city, ranging from healthcare to transportation. Do you think a virtual 3D model can provide a better overview and help identify the lacunae and the shortcomings if any?
IoT and 5G are anticipated to be the key buildings for smart cities for quite some time now. 5G and IoT are interconnected in the context of smart cities. 5G can benefit smart cities by improving connectivity and supporting IoT technology expansion through sensors and other connected devices. 5G will also allow other IoT devices with seamless connectivity in smart city domains such as transportation, energy and water resource consumption, healthcare and public safety. In the future, we may also see that the proliferation of the IoT and the impending development of 5G connectivity will open the floodgates for smart cities.
Though 5G and IoT are going to be necessary elements for smart cities, the virtual city or virtual model of the city is still the core for laying the foundation for any smart city project. 3D models of cities are useful for planning environmental analysis, managing transportation sector, risk management and visualizations of proposed new developments.
With an intelligent platform with applications like modeling, simulation, governance and so on, planners can make informed decisions for a smarter and more sustainable world. Thus, a virtually constructed and virtually monitored city can help in addressing not only the complexities one faces while building a city but also the behavior of the smart cities once they are inhabited.
What are some of the smart city projects that you are working on currently?
In India, we have worked for the development of Jaipur Smart City and the project got completed recently. We have also engaged with Andhra Pradesh state government on infrastructure project management. We expect to deliver more such projects in multiple other states in India in the near future.
Could you elucidate on Dassault Systèmes flagship smart city module 3DEXPERIENCity and tell us about its main advantages over other methods?
At Dassault Systèmes, we strongly believe that sustainability is the only way forward. Cities need to be planned to provide a growth that is smart as well as sustainable. Moreover, it is essential to take a holistic approach while designing a city.
The 3DEXPERIENCity by Dassault Systèmes allows you to create a 3DEXPERIENCE Twin, which help in reflecting changes in the city and the way forward in the virtual world. It takes a holistic approach to ensure and ease regulatory compliance, maximum sustainability and resilience.
3DEXPERIENCity, a virtual platform for smart city aims at federating all initiatives of sustainable and efficient availability of key resources such as power, water, transport and healthcare for the benefit of the people of city and the respective state actors. The fact that 3D is a unique way to share complex phenomena of innovative collaboration and technologies to a very broad audience, enabling to connect experts, city authorities and citizen around a common media or language will greatly enhance the outreach and participation.
By using simulation and systems engineering different stakeholders of a smart city can anticipate the impact of their choices, in a holistic manner by running simulations and mapping to-be scenarios as to how the city will shape in the next 5, 10 or 20 years so that efficient town planning can be done. 3DEXPERIENCity leverages the power of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform to bring together a wide range of territorial data with our industry-leading analytical, modeling, simulation and lifecycle management abilities.
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s design and simulation applications were used to model the city’s buildings, architectural superstructures and infrastructure. The virtual model offers a meeting place for all the city’s stakeholders – elected officials, residents, developers, planners, architects, entrepreneurs, energy suppliers, water utilities, waste treatment managers, transportation systems, and communications networks – to collaborate and innovate together as they plan and build the sustainable city of the future.
Virtual Singapore was one of the earliest smart city models by Dassault. Could you throw some light on the project?
“Virtual Singapore” is championed by National Research Foundation (NRF), the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), in collaboration with Dassault Systèmes. “Virtual Singapore” integrates city data from sensors and systems in 3DEXPERIENCity’s collaborative environment to virtually represent and manage Singapore’s data and processes.
Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCity solution is used to create a dynamic, 3D digital model of Singapore and connect all stakeholders in a secured and controlled environment. The model enabled data analytics and simulations to test and validate envisioned concepts that will enable the quality of Singapore’s living environment to be maintained as its population continues to grow.
The 3DEXPERIENCity also gathered IoT data in a way that enables it to be analyzed and visualized so that people can envision, create and test possibilities for the future before they are realized. Thus, by leveraging Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCity, powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Virtual Singapore project concluded well making Singapore one of the most advanced cities in terms of leveraging technology to plan and manage its transformation over the next decades. Powered by new and sophisticated analysis of images and data collected from public agencies and real-time sensors, Virtual Singapore is designed to give a whole new meaning to the term smart cities.
What is the Dassault Systèmes vision for smart cities?
With the help of advanced technologies, creating sustainable smart cities has become a step easier. Our vision is to work towards the development of a maximum number of modern technology and IT-enabled smart cities across the country and developing the country’s infrastructure working with several state governments. We aim to create holistic and virtual models that enable urban planners to digitally study and test ideas the impact of urbanization, both within the invisible boundaries of their city, and also on the entire planet and its resources. We have also set up a specific team for the smart initiative launched by the government and the team is completely dedicated to working into that area.