The road to Smart Cities: Data management

By: Ramesh mamgain, Area Vice President, India and Saarc, Commvault

Ramesh Mamgain Commvault

With the recent launch of India’s Smart City Mission, we face even greater data growth and complexity, particularly driven by the rise of connected sources – the Internet of Things, connected devices, sensors, apps, etc. Taking advantage of the vast amount of data coming from these sources will help implement the right features and systems which will make the smart city efficient and sustainable. Organizations now recognize that information is a strategic asset which they should be driving value from, and with this new initiative it will emphasise the integral role that data plays in making the smart nation vision a reality.

The Indian government is prioritizing digitization and smart cities with their aggressive goals and significant investment in the Smart City Mission over the next five years. A smart city is underpinned by information technology which enables digital Smart Solutions which are cost effective and rely on fewer resources. Making a city ‘smart’ will provide its residents with more energy-efficient and sustainable environments, as well as better safety and governance. And with each smart city to be headed by a full-time CEO for a fixed term, their success will be determined by their ability to lead the initiative with a data-driven strategy.

Why data management matters

The opportunity with the amount of data that Smart Cities will produce is with analytics. However often when organizations are looking to harness the value of analytics, they rush in before realizing the fundamental first step which is needed – it starts with the effective management of data. Lack of good data management practices causes unnecessary investment in efforts and resources trying to find relevant data – often in disparate silos – and understand what insight it can provide. This hinders the ability to take full advantage of the information available. Having multiple copies of the same data, a lack of visibility of what type of data is being stored and failing to categorise data based on the value it brings, hinders an organization’s ability to drive actionable insights through analytics.

An effective data management strategy on the other hand, enables an organization to declutter, protect, access and share data so it is easily available when needed. This enables actionable insights to drive critical decision-making, anticipate needs and improve the overall quality of urban planning and urban life.

The insight in the data

Raw data is useless if there’s no understanding of what it means and the value it can bring to decision-making.

The initiatives in the Smart City Mission rollout plan present a great opportunity to substantially improve services and facilities while remaining resource and cost efficient. For example, sensor technology can be used to help the goal of preserving and developing open spaces. By implementing sensors in the irrigation systems, real-time data can be transmitted to gardening crews about the level of water required in response to weather or types of plants.

One of the biggest challenges that India and other developing countries face is traffic management. The Smart City Mission has highlighted this as a key area of opportunity. Drawing data on the peak traffic times and GPS history on mobile phones can glean insights into routes taken and modes of transport used. These insights can enable analytics to optimize bus routes in real-time to relieve congestion during peak travel times and on the most common traffic flows. Not only can public transport become the fastest mode of travel by automatically optimizing green lights as they travel along their routes, but the same smart solution can ensure emergency services get patients to hospital faster. This intelligent approach however demands relevant and real-time data retrieval.

In order to gain this insight, the system needs to be able to instantly pull out, cross-match and verify information from various sources. This can only be achieved if data has been compressed and sorted appropriately so it is easily available for analytics to facilitate faster and more accurate decision-making.

Smart nation needs smart data

Most government organizations and enterprises are sitting on a huge amount of untapped data. For India to get ‘smart’, this data and information must be accessed, properly categorized, prioritized and managed. In other words, a robust and reliable data management system must be established before the country’s smart city vision of a 100 cities can be fully realized.

The potential for improvement in India is infinite. Basic amenities like 24-hour water supply, round-the-clock electricity, water conservation and waste management techniques are beyond reach for many but can be regulated by the introduction of smart cities. However, the technology must be used with proper insight. Enterprises as well as the government must be open to consider innovation and prioritize public well being. Hence, management of big data is crucial to the transition of India into a nation of a 100 smart cities.

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