With many cities now introducing a range of connected applications, the concept of the “smart city” is closer to reality than ever before. The use of mobile devices, sensors and fibre-optic cables will enable cities around the world to operate more efficiently.
But as cities move towards operating on intelligent and actionable insights derived from big data, they are facing a paradox: mobile devices and sensors are now generating more data than ever before, however, that data is not necessarily having an immediate impact in helping governments or local authorities to make policy and budgetary decisions.
To a large extent, the challenge facing city authorities is that of scale. Every smart city technology and system has a value and can be deployed with relative ease. However, once it is live it is impractical to be able to monitor all of these systems all of the time.
As a simple example, think about CCTV systems. In cities there are thousands if not more CCTV cameras – but there is not a human operator monitoring every second of footage from every camera at all times. Instead, there are software ‘control layers’ that enable operators to focus their attention purely where there might be an incident that requires their attention. More sophisticated smart city systems need just this sort of control layer – enabling technology that can help direct technology resources most efficiently, maximising the agility, and decision-making of those managing smart cities.
The dynamic sensing platform that distributed acoustic sensing ‘DAS’ solutions deliver, can provide this needed ‘control layer’. Fibre cables are already ubiquitous in most cities and DAS solutions can be ‘plugged in’ to these existing fibre networks to provide a host of management, monitoring and command functions – either ‘globally’ or in a more targeted manner.
In a ‘global’ scenario DAS can provide a layer of intelligence that enables exactly the sort of prioritisation, as in the CCTV example above – just applied to all the technologies at the disposal of a smart city organisation. In other words, DAS solutions can be used to identify potential points of interest in a city – whether that is a security threat, interruptions to traffic flows or unexpected construction work that could impact city infrastructure. Once identified the advanced AI at the core of these DAS solutions can guide other systems to monitor the same incident – seamlessly and instantly providing a complete view to operatives so that they can decide on their response to that incident.
At the other end of the scale, DAS could be applied to provide more targeted monitoring. For example, it could be used to simply monitor the state of the cable network itself to ensure that all the other systems keep flowing as they should.
Ultimately, DAS solutions can be applied in a multitude of ways when it comes to smart cities – maximising the value and utility of the existing fibre infrastructure in the city.