Data-Driven Technology Fuels Smart Cities Evolution
The Esri & The Science of Where podcast this week dropped a new episode about technology helping smart cities and utilities build resiliency and get ahead of infrastructure crises before they occur.
The episode features Trimble’s Chris Stern, strategy and corporate development leader for utilities and smart cities, being interviewed by Marianna Kantor, Esri’s chief marketing officer.
Stressed infrastructure is a common issue for smart cities, and Trimble’s geospatial and wireless, battery-powered IoT sensors enable utilities to proactively monitor and manage their infrastructure in a cost-effective manner. Through this technology, Stern says, Trimble helps cities and utilities build digital twins and proactively identify stressed, aging infrastructure problems so limited budgets can be properly allocated to areas of greatest risk. The lifespan of underground pipes is typically 100 years, but they are rarely replaced until there is an immediate need.
The same technology can also help cities better monitor and respond to natural disasters and severe weather events. It helps utilities can get ahead of burst pipes, sinkholes and electrical outages because IoT technology is predictive and highly accurate, allowing utility companies to trace and identify causes, notify customers and trigger work processes to begin repair.
In the podcast, Stern elaborates on the impact of location analytics and spatial business intelligence in the smart cities evolution. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
Trimble invests a lot in solving problems in urban environments. How would you define a smart city?
For a city to be “smart,” it needs to solve challenges with technology, Stern explained. Stress on civic infrastructure comes from a variety of complex causes including population movement, aging infrastructure, security challenges, social and economic issues, demands for open data and wireless connectivity, and the increasing number of severe weather events and natural disasters.
“I think when you talk to cities about ‘smart cities,’ it’s not about IoT. It’s not about sensors. But to become one, you need those types of things, and there are new methods to communicate with low bandwidth and low cost.”
“There’s also a proliferation of these sensors that can measure a variety of things you wouldn’t have been able to measure in the past. It gives you the ability to deal with things like traffic and mobility.”
What is the role of location intelligence for smart cities?
“Location intelligence is fundamental. There are many examples of not only responding to an emergency but even in routine maintenance conditions in environments that aren’t ideal, you have to find a physical asset - a water meter, electric meter or valve.”
Can you define for us the geospatial cloud? What advantages do you see that cloud-enabled solutions bring?
“When I define the geospatial cloud, it’s basically an environment to perform your work with a geospatial context.”
Stern said Trimble’s mandate is to make it easy for workers in a wide variety of industries such as construction, water and electric utilities to collect geospatial information and capture high quality data.
“The world is shifting. Civil engineers and designers historically have been fine with two- dimensional drawings, but that’s changing. People need to visualize things in 3D, and data needs to be collected in 3D.”