Sustainable infrastructure - Building smart cities for a more liveable future

August 23, 2022

Smart cities, sustainable buildings, and digital twins of assets

As we think about infrastructure, the first thing that comes to mind is the traffic! As a thoroughbred city dweller, I can clearly see many things that are right and wrong with our living spaces. Urban living spaces, and cities have been around for many centuries, and they have been hubs for extraordinary creativity, invention, and human progress. With this progress comes economic mobility - a primary driver for migration of families in urban settlements. My grandparents moved away from their villages into cities in search of better economic prospects and upward mobility. The great migration into cities continues globally, and with it, an increase in city population - and this impacts traffic! Or generally, the infrastructure of the city falls apart requiring periodic maintenance and upgrades.

The new wave of smart cities strives for something similar through digitization and technology. Here are some examples of systems within a smart city:

  • On-street parking management.
  • Intelligent traffic management system.
  • Water treatment and sewage management systems.
  • Mobile platforms for tourism management.
  • Command & Control Centre at the city-level along with Data Centre (DC) and Disaster Recovery (DR).
  • Sewage management system.
  • Smart infrastructure with CCTV, Wi-Fi, and Air Quality Monitoring.
  • Optical Fibre Cabling (OFC) for all connectivity.
Digital replica of cities

These systems become the building blocks for smart city infrastructure - with aggregated data, we see detailed views of interoperability between these systems that are unavailable with current systems today. With more visibility into the system, we can make better decisions quicker. Smart cities are able to distribute utilities to the consumers - homes, smart buildings, hospitals, public spaces, schools, etc.

The integrated command and control centres of smart cities, the nerve centre of operations, begin with a bird's eye view of the whole city.However, in order to have an influence on operational efficiency or sustainable ecosystems, one must intervene at the right time to discover and resolve faults. A fully interconnected smart city thus speaks with every fully-interconnected smart building, and a smart building is connected with every system within that building (e.g. HVACs (Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling systems), BMS (Building Management Systems), etc.) thereby visibility at unprecedented levels.

Command and Control centre with outdated screens

The operations at a city-level all the way down to an individual HVAC is completely disconnected since the current systems do not allow for tracking dependencies, and the mechanisms of management do not think of these systems as interconnected layers (except when something fails). The depth of information cannot be showcased with current 2D dashboards splashed across multiple TV walls because the complexity of information is too much. 3D digital twins can do adequate justice since they provide everybody from a layperson to a highly specialized expert (of a region) with a vision of the city that they can readily grasp. As a result, appropriate corrective measures can be taken without the need for trial and error.

The Digital Twin Of A City - the inter-connectivity between multiple systems has become a reality, and we are able to measure/see energy consumption by an HVAC within a single building impact the energy consumption of an entire city. This becomes the basis for a sustainable living space. All factors that make a city livable are dynamically monitored and controlled to improve quality of life, and reduce traffic!

Here's a short glimpse of smart city dashboard in metaverse.

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