Local government relies heavily on geographic information about the conditions of roads, location of crimes and the ability to attract business through economic development. Today, cities are also using advanced location technology and sensors to update real-time public transit schedules, for example.
The “intelligent city” concept describes the reliance on data, as well as wireless communications, to create connected urban environments. Through this connectivity, local governments are able to reduce the cost of running a city, promote efficiency and improve quality of life for citizens.
From a bike sharing system in Barcelona that offers cheap, green public transportation to a mobile app in Boston that let drivers pay digitally for street parking, cities are already testing the waters when it comes to the integration of technology in urban environments – but they’re only scratching the surface.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are empowering public officials to rethink how they serve citizens, manage public resources and build modern metropolises. Here are three ways location intelligence drives the development of intelligent cities.
1. Location Intelligence Makes Safer Cities
Law enforcement agencies already rely on location data to track crimes, but GIS could both unlock additional sources of data and provide new ways to visualize and interpret this information.
Using GIS, police officers automatically transmit location-based information from GPS receivers to a central control. These data can be used to create maps of criminal activity, which in turn can help public safety departments efficiently map patrol areas or spot crime patterns.
Some agencies have also incorporated thermal imagery to create a more sophisticated view of local crime. In London, thermal sensors attached to the bottom of police aircraft were able to spot sources of unusual heat patterns or “hot spots” of human activity. Mapping these heat sources allowed police to identify the locations of illegal, makeshift housing, helping the city crack down on its dangerous “beds in sheds” trend.
2. Location Intelligence Improves Disaster Response
When a crisis strikes, there’s no time to waste. That’s why many cities are being proactive and considering ways they can incorporate location intelligence into disaster planning.
GIS can be used by local governments to chart regional exposure to threats such as flooding, fire and other natural disasters to determine high-risk areas. Public agencies are mapping city transportation routes in proximity to the location of local fire or police departments to strategize emergency response routes.
Of course, disasters can literally and physically transform cities, which is why GIS can be a valuable tool to incorporate real-time location-based data during and after a major incident. Drones, for example, could gather imagery and report changes to the city’s landscape so that responders have the most recent data.
3. Location Intelligence Supports City Maintenance
GIS isn’t just for emergency situations. Location intelligence can inform everyday decisions that make cities run more efficiently and at a lower cost, which is especially important given tightening municipal budgets.
For example, intelligent cities could track the frequency of road safety inspections, street light repairs and waste pickup. Data could help cities manage assets and predict the need for infrastructure maintenance, while spatial analysis is used to visualize city development initiatives.
Emerging technology continues to shape how public and private entities innovate and improve the lives of everyday people. From basic city functions to the most complex aspects of urban planning, location intelligence can help public officials design and optimize tomorrow’s smart cities.
Pitney Bowes’ Roger Pilc is a featured speaker at this year’s Minds + Machines 2015, from September 29 to October 1 in San Francisco. If you’re heading to the event, you can meet with Pitney Bowes to learn how our location intelligence solutions power the industrial internet and intelligent cities.