Making smart cities a reality: How to handle big data

Cities of the future 

By 2050, 70-80% of us will reportedly live in cities; which is an estimated 7.2 billion people. With this in mind, governments, local authorities and service providers are all looking towards ways of making these cities sustainable for the future, with solution providers for these smart cities estimated to be worth $400 billion by 2020

The focus will be to make these cities inclusive, informative, environmental, efficient and sufficient. Organisations are already exploring ways to combine technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to make these dreams a reality. Initiatives have already begun from the likes of Cisco and IBM to work with other organisations to develop data-driven systems for transport, waste management, law enforcement and energy use.

Although many organisations are looking into ways to make smart cities more people friendly, for example developing intelligent street lighting or technology in cars to find free parking spaces and applications to heat our homes before we arrive. But, organisations are failing to address how will the data coming from every device connected to the smart city be managed? With 7.2 billion people connected more than ever before through smartphones, tablets, cars and laptops, plus every traffic light, road, building, home, and commodity connected, the numbers and size of available data will be incredible.   

Big data 

Big data is what will drive smart cities. It will be the force that ensures they become a reality. However, traditional data processing software is unable to cope with these astronomical levels of data, 80% of the world’s data has only been created within the last few years, and by 2020 an estimated 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created per second for every human on the planet, causing problems for data storage, analysis, transfer and sharing.  

This problem is particularly seen when transferring data, as the data gravity will attract organisations to begin connecting their services to cloud-based systems. Once accumulating enough ‘mass’, these cloud-based systems will be virtually impossible to move. With the growth of the social web, allowing us to monitor and share each and every element of our lives from our location, to fitness levels and with every device in a city connected to these cloud-based systems, how will we be able to manage the information that is being relayed?    

Additionally, with the growth of globalisation, more businesses are being connected across the world each and every day, meaning more data transfer between video conferencing, emails and internet enabled instant messaging systems.   

Therefore, smart cities need systems that will be able to process high-levels of data at exceptional speeds to ensure the city is running as efficiently as possible.

How can we manage big data?   

So, what is being done to manage big data and how will organisations incorporate this to make smart cities a global reality? It’s all about the software that will be used to manage it.     

ebb3, experts in network infrastructure performance for 3D graphics, has developed a High Performance Virtual Computer (HPVC) which delivers an optimum performance optical 3D application experience remotely. This allows big data to be managed in a more efficient way, even allowing the most data-driven organisations, such as oil, gas and healthcare, to operate remotely; something that was seen as the final frontier in virtualisation due to the volume of information required by these organisations to operate. 

ebb3 is making remote working easily accessible by managing software via cloud-based systems, allowing remote access to be made even when there is big data to transfer. This will not only manage the levels of big data that is being produced but also with the rise of globalisation, remote workers across the globe will all be able to access the same system and contribute in equal measure. Rather than be restricted to remote access to organisations servers which are often only able to be accessed by a group of computers connected to the same network in the same office.   

By incorporating these systems into smart cities’ planning it will allow the visualisation of these futuristic cityscapes as they start to become part of our everyday lives. As data can be managed in more effective ways it allows easier movement of data and lessens the effect of data gravity.   

By enabling remote working and faster data transfer via the cloud , we can help ensure the smooth running of tomorrow’s smart cities. Incorporating ebb3’s HPVC into the smart cities’ schemes allows businesses to perform all of their tasks remotely and ubiquitously, no matter what sector they work in. Meaning each element of smart cities can run smoothly whether this is in the construction and planning stage of the city or the day-to-day running of smart cities once they are fully fledged and connected to the cloud. ebb3 is already providing HPVC services to the oil and gas industry, healthcare and manufacturing organisations with hopes to move into engineering and gaming.  

Although must debate over whether Smart Cities and Big Data are just buzzwords, it is clear that cities are taking steps to make their city as efficient and liveable for their inhabitants. Whether this is aiding inhabitants to find a parking space, to monitoring the levels of recycling happening within a city or creating safer environments for people to live in, smart cities are being taken more seriously than ever before.    

So, businesses need to look to the future and consider how they will begin to manage their data, and how they will start to incorporate remote working for their staff. It will be the convenience and flexibly, that people will become accustomed to, that will attract business to use these systems.  

The future is bright for smart cities with new developments and innovations being made every second, meaning these cities are becoming more user-friendly for their future inhabitants. However, the way in which big data is managed will be critical for the successful enablement of these cities.   

Andy Bowker, Executive Founder, ebb3 

Image Credit: Jamesteohart / Shutterstock