How Cities Should Be Using Big Data

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How Cities Should Be Using Big Data

Big Data

Moving into the future, it’s likely Big Data will be used to shape our lives in unexpected ways by positively impacting our cities.

There’s a lot of talk about using Big Data to improve the customer experience, see which items are selling the fastest and identify potential areas for growth. However, moving toward the future, it’s likely Big Data will be used to shape our lives in unexpected ways by positively impacting our cities.

By some estimates, over $400 billion per year could be spent on so-called “smart cities” by the year 2020. Let’s take a look at some ways a data-driven society could lead to cities that run more smoothly.

Big Data Informs Community Members

Streetlights definitely do a lot to improve visibility and make people feel safer in sparsely populated areas. But you’ve probably noticed that they’re often turned on when no one’s around or when it’s not dark yet, which ends up wasting energy.

In July, a company called Sansi went to a Chinese conference and unveiled LED streetlights that work with the help of Big Data. Not only are the lights engineered to conserve energy, but they also have an information transmission system that alerts passersby to issues such as obstructions on nearby roads. Furthermore, a person in distress could use the smart streetlights to call for help from emergency services.

Related articles

Big Data Makes Waste Management Less Messy

Waste management is arguably one of the less-glamorous parts of keeping a city functioning well. However, in Songdu, South Korea, which is a relatively new city, planners have figured out how to streamline waste management and even keep the trash out of sight.

Firstly, trash is taken out of individual homes through an underground network of pipes that connect to waste management centers. Furthermore, households use special chips that track how much they throw away in a given time period. The latter part of the process is meant to be especially useful for planning purposes.

When we think of big data, customer service data tracking comes to mind. What’s happening in Songdu is an offshoot of that concept, because it collects statistics of how reliant the city’s customers are on the waste management services and informs city employees accordingly.

Using Big Data to Make Public Transit More Timely

Although there are some exceptions, public transit isn’t often thought of as the fastest way to reach destinations. However, transportation officials in Dublin, Ireland, are turning to big data in hopes of altering that reality.

The city’s streets swarm with over 1,000 buses, and planners have equipped each with GPS tracking devices. By using a digital map, big data engineers can check the location of each vehicle and verify whether it’ll reach a particular stop on schedule.

When delays are evident, it’s possible to look deeper at the data and identify the root causes of a slowdown. Planners also hope to be able to spot traffic congestion earlier than usual so they can speedily make route adjustments when necessary.

Big Data Makes Densely Populated Areas Safer

Every weekend, more than 20,000 people flock to the streets of Eindhoven, a Dutch city. They’re usually coming to enjoy some of the more than 50 nightclubs and bars that line one of the main streets there.

A new program being used there called CityPulse depends on big data to send alerts to law enforcement authorities if patterns are identified that might indicate unsafe conditions. Data is collected in several formats, including video and audio feeds from security cameras and information from social media posts. If unusual qualities are spotted in the data, the system warns police, who can then decide whether to respond to an incident in person or at least watch the area more closely. Check out more about CityPulse in the video below.

These are just some of the many examples of how metropolitan areas are turning to Big Data to improve living conditions for their residents. As technology continues to advance and methods improve based on user feedback, it’ll be interesting to see if big data is as prominent a player in city planning as some analysts have predicted.

Top Image by Life of Pix

By Kayla MatthewsEmbed

Author Bio - Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and blogger, as well as editor of Follow Kayla on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.


Post a Comment