Chinese New Year (CNY) is a busy time in Hong Kong. The city gets ready to welcome visitors from around the world as it hosts flower markets, night parades and firework displays across its various neighborhoods. In a city ranked fourth globally by population density, ensuring the smooth flow of human and vehicular traffic during this time is no easy feat.
Alongside this, an estimated 5.94 million passengers will pass through the city’s sea, land and air control points during the Lunar New Year festive period, putting an increased strain on transportation hubs.
With many in Hong Kong discussing the importance of Smart City initiatives, how many of them know interconnection is the anonymous hero supporting the increased flow of human traffic and ensuring that government and transport providers can deliver efficient and agile services that can respond to real-time changes or delays?
Interconnection – A journey into possibility
Interconnection has the ability to make a transportation system more intelligent. By bringing together multiple systems and data it is able to make day-to-day life more immediate and less stressful. In fact, during this year’s CNY celebrations I saw numerous opportunities for interconnection to improve the experience of all parties involved. Let me take you along my route:
- Smarter Transportation – With high volumes of people trying to move rapidly across the city to various locations, some modes of transport quickly become highly congested whilst others are barely occupied. A smart approach in the future will see networks knowing in advance where you plan to go, and accounting for changes in capacity before citizens begin their journeys. Technology like this will come into its own during events like CNY, where changes in frequency could ease transport congestion. All this needs an interconnected platform to allow instant data exchange across millions of sources, and provide real-time analysis and solutions.
- Crowd Control – One of Hong Kong’s most prominent characteristics, namely its population density, is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it gives the city its buzz and energetic feel, it also hampers and stresses people during busy times of year, when they are rushing to get things done. Unexpected network delays can also have a huge impact during peak times – triggering overcrowding, damaging the reputation of a city, and potentially ruining the festive mood. Whilst it is easy to anticipate the areas of the city where overcrowding will manifest, it is harder to try and change the flow of people to these areas to keep overcrowding to a minimum. Interconnection can bring together app-based, motion tracking and transport data to provide information in real-time and use this to intelligently manage people traffic and throughput at key pinch points. By interconnecting intelligent monitoring systems with social media platforms and mobile apps, governments and transport providers can easily alert and advise the public on alternative routes or flashpoints to ensure a good time can be enjoyed by all during these special occasions. This would be of equal benefit to stores trying to maximize value or transit authorities trying to make life easier.
- Securing Citizens – A fully integrated, smart, scalable and reactive monitoring system is the goal of all security services and the hope of most citizens. Interconnection provides this integration possibility, making information and resource sharing between police and government quick and logistically easy to administer. By interconnecting cameras and sensors, with real-time data transfer, emergency services and authorities are able to get a quick and clear picture of the situation on the ground and deploy resources accordingly to ensure the safety of those in the city.
Interconnection Oriented Architecture – the bedrock upon which smarter cities are built
As demonstrated above, increased demand for transport during festive seasons results in a higher amount of data transfer, making interconnection a crucial part of the backbone of Smart Cities. Interconnection Oriented Architectures (IOA) enables a transformative approach to IT, fostering interconnection between citizens, the places they need to get to, the clouds which host their lives, and the massive throughputs of data that this results in.
One of the challenges of delivering Smart Cities is that all of the resources upon which they depend are siloed, and to varying degrees, fixed. The premise of deploying IoT as a solution is that is can ‘localize’ data requirements and balance access with protection and govern data movement, as well as provide real-time feedback to operators and government. IOA therefore, has a key role to play in localizing security services and governing multi-party flows across boundaries and inspection zones, and bringing citywide WAN and LAN together at the edge.
The Hong Kong government has committed itself to the Smart City concept, realizing that traditional models of city growth create issues with scalability, demand and access, hampering economic development and impacting quality of life. As I discussed in my previous blog post, the government is formulating a blueprint for smart city development that looks at everything from policy objectives and strategy to development plans and infrastructure.
This will hopefully mean services which people can depend on, and the security of knowing that these daily-life-supporting initiatives can achieve what they set out to do – the chance to celebrate important moments together and make life better for all of us.
Visit the IOA Knowledge Base to understand how to optimize for connectivity, leveraging ecosystems and placing IT back in control-in the center of an Interconnection Oriented Architecture.