The age of smart urban living is upon us. Our lives are filled with smart technology and products - we use smart phones, wireless networks, and have computer intelligence embedded in many software and everyday devices. Two key trends related to smart technology that will have a transformational impact on businesses, society and populace are: rapid urbanisation and the Internet-of-Things (IOT).
Urbanisation is not a new phenomenon. But in mid-2010, this migration reached a point of inflexion when the global rural population of 3.4 billion inhabitants equalled the urban population. By 2050, the global urban population is projected to almost double to 6.2 billion - with 54 percent of the urbanites concentrated in Asia alone. This global rural flight is happening at a rate of 65 million per year.
Besides the reality of rapid urbanisation, there is the Internet of Things. By 2010, there were almost two connected devices per person. This is expected to double every 5 years - to 3.5 in 2015 and 6.6 in 2020. Today, many of us already own more than 3 connected devices - including the smart phone that you carry to the simple sensors that can receive and send data and information.
This IOT reality means that the world is getting more connected than ever, and it is not just between people and people but also between devices to devices, and devices and people. This increased connectedness churns out huge volumes of data and information every day.
IOT opens up tremendous new opportunities for businesses and governments to understand their stakeholders, environment and landscape better, and to anticipate and respond more proactively to changes. This ability to respond, to take decisive actions, mandates the ability to recognize patterns and make sense of information and data better and faster.
Growth of Smart Cities
Today, the "smart city/smart systems" market is still emerging and in a nascent stage. Based on different reports, the global market for "smart systems" is estimated to be worth US$60 billion by 2015.
Governments and businesses are constantly grappling with the need to optimise their resources and infrastructure, to deliver their services more efficiently and effectively, as well as to improve customer or citizen engagement.
An approach adopted by NCS, a leading info communications technology provider, to meet these challenges is with SURF (Solutions for Urbanised Future), which crystalises solutions for a connected and urbanised future. At the core of SURF are seven technologies pivotal to an urbanised future, broadly categorised in three groups (represented by the three concentric rings).
The outer ring interacts and engages the environment and society, using technologies such as:
- Sensing technology - a wide of smart sensors, including RFID, video cameras, light sensors, etc., to make possible round-the-clock monitoring and recording of statuses on a real-time basis.
- Mobility - a wide range of mobile apps that enable users to interact directly with business and governments, to receive services, alerts or provide feedback and information.
- Social networks - which have transformed the way enterprises and organisations foster communications and collaboration among their employees, partners and customers.
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