Planning, design, development and management are critical processes to creating infrastructure in smart cities. And Geographical Information System (GIS) is at the vanguard in aiding decision-makers to make the right decisions – at each level. In addition, it also helps in analysing how smart city products and services can maximise end-user satisfaction.
GIS or geospatial technology unlocks a world of improvements in every sector of the urban space. It has the proficiency to capture the real world of a city into a comprehensible model. It can incorporate millions of variables and geocode them to spur the planning, development and management of a city. Right from wastewater management to public safety, it has a vital role to play.
Today, we have compiled a few of the GIS applications in the smart city environment – which are critical to improving the quality of life. Let’s get to them one by one!
Fighting Crime & Terrorism
Crime and terrorism is perhaps the gravest man-made disaster, the world is trying to tackle. The more sophisticated security strategies are implemented, the smarter the criminals get with their tactics. To overcome this, geospatial data can be extremely helpful.
A number of law enforcement agencies are now incorporating GIS and other related technologies in crime investigation, detection and tracking. The technology is, in fact, making them more efficient and agile in picking up criminal movements.
GIS mapping can spot the exact position of a person, thing or vehicle. It is remarkably effective especially when suspects are moving. It helps in actually tracking their route. Given the fact, geospatial technologies are now playing a huge role in reinforcing the implementation of a law. It is increasingly being embraced by police organisations across the world.
Needless to say, a definitive strategy is important to reduce crime. However, the need to accurately spot the assets moving from one place to another is key. For example, what is happening in a particular city, how is that relevant to a threat and what number of people are exposed to the danger. The GIS mapping technique helps provide these answers.
For the same, geospatial technologies are installed throughout the targeted landscape for tactical decision-making and planning.
In addition, the location and spatial technologies can also improve cybersecurity. For example, many law enforcement agencies geolocate data through backend technology. They analyse social media posts further helping in counter-terrorism. It has now become an integral part of the preemptive actions against terrorism.
GIS and geospatial technologies are extensively being used by the Queensland Police Service in Australia. They have been maintaining a database comprising 18 million unique segments of information. Each segment has the capability to help in crime investigation against children. Moreover, the system can augment the use by sharing data and connecting with other law enforcement agencies. As the database is shared, it gets bigger in size. Information from each agency keeps getting recorded.
Social Mapping Of Epidemics & Health Trends
Cases of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders are growing. In this regard, GIS mapping provides healthcare professionals with insightful data that can help track regions where a particular disease has become prevalent. Or it can also help analyse that population of which region is more likely to be affected. This helps healthcare providers implement preventative strategies or staff skilled professionals in a specific medical field.
Right to Care, a health NGO in South Africa working for prevention, care and treatment of HIV is using GIS to end the AIDS epidemic. It is exploring innovative ways to reach the UN’s AID 90-90-90 targets by 2020.
According to the NGO, the community can play a vital role in generating knowledge that can help support decision-making about HIV programmes. The organisation uses GIS-driven social mapping to gain local knowledge from the residents. As the locals have expert knowledge of the environments they dwell in. They can tell about social and cultural habits and customs prevailing in the area they live and work.
With the GIS social mapping, the Right to Care team unfolds layers around what is pushing HIV transmission. This helps them inform localised strategies in HIV programmes.
Social mapping has proved to be useful for the NGO which is now operating in other African countries including Zambia and Malawi. In Zambia, social mapping lead HIV positive test rates to increase from 6% to 31% in a month.
Singapore, on the other hand, has implemented GIS in a different way aiming to improve citizen health. The city-state has developed an app that allows first aiders to reach nearby cardiac arrests before the ambulance arrives. This helps provide life-saving support.
With a further upgrade, the app now plays a bigger role in helping extinguish small fires in neighbourhoods. This is an incredible way of drawing in the community to help deal with such incidents alongside the government.
These being a few, there are a plethora of other areas where GIS can improve citizens’ health in smart cities.
GIS In Environment
Glaciers are melting, rainfalls have become unpredictable, land cover is changing and forests are shrinking. All thanks to human activities – these threats of climate change and global warming are rising.
These problems require constant monitoring and supervision. An improved understanding of the environmental changes is possible through valuable data gathered through GIS and remote sensing.
Geospatial technologies can effectively analyse environmental data and help in planning. These provide a better picture of the physical features and the relationships that influence in a given critical environment. For example, gathering data such as the steepness of slopes and vegetation can be viewed and overlaid to determine several environmental parameters.
Additionally, GIS can also display and interpret aerial photographs. Digital data overlaid on visual images provide a more intimate view of landscapes and associated data. With this, it provides a quick and comparative view of hazards and risks – especially in places that are highly prone.
The completion of data analysis is then followed by effective planning and managing environmental hazards and risks. In this matter, the assessment of hazards and risks becomes the foundation for decisions and mitigation actions.
Going forward, the use of GIS from monitoring to mitigation can help create environmental models.
This way geospatial technologies can help control pollution (of all types), manage natural resources and remediate oil spills. For instance, Google’s Global Forest Watch has long been keeping an eye forest destroyers.
In The Government
You name it and GIS has the potential to improve or optimise operations in every urban sector. Smart city governments are also adopting GIS in unique manners. In Singapore, the technology is supporting the government in tracking feedback given across government. This helps them allocate resources more effectively. The smart city is also using GIS in mapping information when planning services for the disabled.
Singapore’s Land Authority has introduced the ‘OneMap’ system – a sole record of all geographical datasets in the city-state. The system is now receiving an upgrade to a 3D system. Moving to 3D, it will further support the creation of new augmented reality and virtual reality datasets. OneMap is open for access to everyone including government, businesses and citizens.
While GIS mapping has its own benefits, transforming its existence into AR and VR is key to unprecedented possibilities. The augmentation is already on the move in some of the smart cities around the world.