Creating the digital city of the future

By Tariq Hussain, Senior Sales Director, Dell Technologies | UK Government, Defence & National Security.

Whether it's our phones or even our kettles, we've become accustomed to digital devices. But what about our cities? How can we improve the management of infrastructure and resources to meet the present and future needs of citizens and businesses by becoming more digital?

Many changes are happening across the country. Both local and national governments are looking at ways to use technology to improve the way we travel, work, and stay safe.

The impact of the digital city

Technology is powering transformation in urban environments around the world. It is helping with everything from circular economies built around sustainable energy consumption to seamless engagement between community and government. One area in which many are already seeing the benefits is safety. By using integrated operations powering intelligent situational awareness, modern cities can help reduce crime and keep their citizens safe. Real-time cameras, for example, mean that police can be instantly alerted should there be any suspicion of criminal activities or unauthorised movement in restricted areas.

The same technology can also be used within predictive planning and adaptive traffic control. Global population growth creates increasingly complex issues for transport and mobility. As of June 2022, there were 40.7 million licensed vehicles in the UK. Many areas do not have the infrastructure to cope with this number of vehicles, leading to congestion, shortage of parking spaces, and pollution, all impacting citizens' quality of life and productivity. City officials can tackle transportation issues by adopting intelligent traffic management systems, automated violation detection systems, and data collection and integration of these systems.

A prime example is using technology, like ANPR cameras, to detect queues and integrate with Adaptive Traffic Light Systems. This allows for intelligent control of traffic lights based on live updates, helping to relieve traffic and keep cities moving.

However, none of this will be possible without the right technology, so cities must invest in strong 5G and cloud infrastructure that offers an open, flexible and scalable architecture. Scalability is essential given that the world is constantly changing and we are witnessing rapid urban growth; this facilitates faster technology uptake and maximises return on civic resources.

Local Councils are leading the way

While investments are being made nationally, local governments also notice the benefits. They are often the best placed to know exactly where their constituency needs more investment. One local council, for example, has accelerated its digital transformation with an end-to-end, cloud-based data protection solution.

Upgrading outdated technology has made vital government services available to citizens online at anytime. This has included stepping away from phone and mail and creating an innovative digital transformation using Dell, VMware, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) technologies to enhance citizens' lives while reducing costs. This investment in digital services has resulted in the council being able to cut down its disaster recovery from days to just 12 hours, save costs from lower heating, cooling, and rental expenses and free up more time for staff who had more time supporting citizens.

The local council also shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, with increased digital usage, data requirements are expected to double in five years. As one of the only local governments in the UK to embrace digital, cloud-based transformation, it is confident that its reliable and scalable strategy will meet its community's evolving needs.

The future of the digital city

We are only beginning to see the potential of the digital city. As better infrastructure is implemented and new technologies become the norm, we will see a different world. For now, it will be better transport systems, digital transformation on day-to-day services and safer cities. Fast forward a couple of years, and we'll see our streets paved with driverless cars, our ambulance service powered by 5G reducing waiting times and ensuring efficiency, and pollution will be live monitored so it can be acted on immediately. But, most of all, our lives will be totally transformed and enhanced by the power of the digital city.

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