Smart cities - utopia or reality? The expert opinion of Center2M CEO Evgeny Miskevich
Every second, millions of sensors and video cameras are gathering data on life in the city: where traffic jams concentrate, how garbage is collected, and how many public buses are operating. Petabytes of data are collected on platforms where they get structured and analyzed, and once they are processed, they are transferred to a command center. This is the "think tank" of a smart city, where all the zeroes and ones are turned into extremely complex algorithms and solutions.
At first glance, the system looks very simple – you need to collect, transmit and analyze data. Nonetheless, smart cities are not growing in number as quickly as one might guess.

There are several reasons for this:
- old, heterogeneous, non-digital equipment;
- difficulties with data transmission in many cities, which is related to GSM coverage and data transfer speed as well as the need to build backup channels in case a committed data rate becomes critical;
- the main difficulty: the large number of participants that contribute to the process. Currently in the field of smart cities, there are only fragmentary solutions and detached objects, for example, smart neighborhoods and horizontal information exchange (which virtually nobody uses).

To make a city smart, building a smart parking lot is not enough, because it has to be integrated with neighboring structures and systems. It is clear that under these conditions, we need products and companies that are able to meet the challenges of digitalization in a turnkey manner. For smart cities, platform solutions (platforms for the management of infrastructural facilities and mobile objects, service platforms and information portals) are a must.

Center2M's project for the monitoring of heat and water supply networks in the city of Noyabrsk is a good example of an integrated approach. To reduce water and heat loss and manage control of housing and communal services, a digital twin of the networks was developed. The platform collects critical parameter information related to the network's operations, transmits it to the control center and controls automation when deviations occur. The system analyzes the data, helps identify resource theft information and "predicts" accidents. With such information, it is possible to conduct a quick search of an accident site, coordinate work for teams, and focus more on needed maintenance work instead of expensive emergency repairs.

As a result, equipment repair and maintenance costs can be reduced by 5-10%. At the same time, network losses are reduced two-fold, and savings on electricity costs can reach 20-45%. An additional benefit for utility companies is the collection of consumption data, which can be used to create energy service contracts.

We should also highlight Center2M's solid waste disposal (MSW) management project in the city of Tyumen. Sensors were installed on MSW containers to collect and transmit data on container capacity. With real-time information, dispatchers have been able to optimize waste collection routes and schedules and to monitor waste collection as stipulated in contracts.

Given that about 1.5 metric tons of household waste are collected every day in the city, the question of their disposal is critical. By using smart sensors, the city has reduced the cost of municipal equipment operation and, in general, increased municipal service efficiency. These sensors also function as fire alarms.

Center2M implements integrated projects in the field of urban and industrial video content analysis. Pilot implementations were carried out at enterprises in Kazakhstan and Moscow.
Today, we see that individual projects and solutions to creating smart cities are being actively implemented in urban infrastructure. However, without a methodological framework of interrelated indicators, an integrated approach is impossible. The smart-city indicator system (which includes the smart economy, smart finances, smart government administration, connected residents, smart environment management, smart technology and smart infrastructure) allows the digitalization of the city to be considered in a non-coplanar way, the level of development of each city to be assessed, cities to be compared by individual parameters and, in general, the guaranteed improvement in people's quality of life, business competitiveness and environmental impact.
Due to the continual collection, processing and updating of data from residents, and with the help of electronic devices, smart cities will become the main tool for managing the economy in any developed nation.
Today, the most advanced countries are building from scratch smart cities with default systems for the management of transportation, water, electricity, etc. Such places include Masdar in the UAE, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city in China and Songo in South Korea.
According to the global consulting giant McKinsey, Moscow has entered the ranks of the world's top 50 smart cities. It uses digital technology in people's everyday lives. The quality of services is rising every year, but at the same time, the locals are becoming very demanding in regard to digital services provided. This is seen in urban infrastructural planning and construction, housing and communal-resource accounting and distribution, and the development of a personalized urban-service ecosystem to be accessed via a single and convenient interface.
We can thus draw a definite conclusion: the global trend of transforming industrial cities into smart ones is an achievable task, and this goes for Russian cities as well. As a result, the smart city will become part of an interregional and international network whose resource potential will be used with maximum efficiency and through sustainable development.

Evgeny Miskevich, CEO of Center2M and partner of the logistics company Tochka-Tochka.
Source: VPrioritete, No. 01-02 (04), 2019

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