Smart cities are one of those areas of life where we’re catching up on sci-fi a lot faster than you might think.
If seeing someone paying for their bus with their wristwatch makes you flash-forward to apocalyptic Fallout-esque visions of people wandering the earth with ‘Pip-Boy’ personal computers attached to their arms, you might want to close your eyes for smart cities.
Or perhaps it’s already too late; this is exactly the sort of technological integration that characterises the smart city concept – and it’s already well underway.
For Dynamics professionals, the dawn of smart cities is big news. As we shall see below, cloud computing technologies like Microsoft Azure collect big data, and tools like Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP provide the software implementations that enables businesses, local governments and relevant third parties to improve the experiences of the city’s citizens. Ultimately, this means more work for Dynamics professionals in the UK and US.
What are smart cities?
The concept is quite simple. Technology is used to make living in a city easier for citizens. Different systems and devices communicate and interact in order in an internet of things to better organise and manage resources, transportation and services, for the benefit of all.
New waves of technology are being incorporated into city management and it is this that sits at the heart of smart cities. We have already seen one such wave – the incorporation of social media technologies into city management.
A great example is Jakarta’s emergency services using citizens’ tweets to create a real-time map of where flooding is endangering lives. And we are all now comfortable with police, fire and waste departments of local government using social media – though with varied levels of success…
Earlier this year, Dynamics CRM showed its versatility when it was developed to handle crime and justice information and investigation by Durham’s Constabulary. By replacing the ‘C’ for ‘customer’ with an ‘x’ which could stand for ‘criminal’, ‘victim’, ‘missing person’ and so on, the northern police force managed to improve their rating to ‘outstanding’ even in the face of heavy budget cuts.
These sorts of Dynamics implementations are set to become more common moving forward, meaning an increase in the number and variety of dynamics roles.
Using software to improve security and other services is at the heart of the smart city concept, and Durham’s success is an encouragement for other areas to do the same. But using social media and CRM technology is just the first step. Other waves of technology could be incorporated to much greater ends.
How far developed is the concept?
Augmented reality would offer the citizen a wealth of previously unobtainable information available as they make their way through the urban environment. This information can be provided as the big data, cloud and mobile technologies are enhanced, and interfacing technologies like augmented reality are brought to the market. The overall effect of this will be to broaden the number of Dynamics roles available to job seekers in the future.
Some cities are already leading the way, becoming open, live experiments in this new way to organise human life. Bristol has invited business and university partners to develop new solutions for their city’s problems in a project called Bristol Is Open which, if successful, could be exported to smart cities around the word.
New York has had its own programme in place. City24/7 installed smart screens to inform, protect and revitalise citizens with super-relevant local information: all paid for by sponsors, advertising and data aggregation. But this already feels remarkably out of date.
For example, driverless cars can now receive information from cameras and road sensors to change their route, easing traffic and minimising accidents. Bins in central London can read data, phone apps’ likes and preferences to inform local businesses about what people are into, helping them stock popular items. This sort of retail technology interfaces with Dynamics CRM for retail, enabling store managers to take advantage of passers-by.
Microsoft’s recent shift towards mobile-first, cloud-based technology puts it in a prime position to drive forward the smart city concept.
As Satya Nadella continues to push Azure into a dominant position in the cloud-based tech market, Microsoft is able to host the data on Microsoft Azure HDInsight and provide the big data tools required to analyse trends and allocate resources.
Microsoft already has a raft of case studies available showing how local governments are using their technology to make real improvements to constituents’ lives.
As these tools are implemented more widely, the world is certainly going to need more Dynamics specialists. If you’re looking for your next role and you’re based in the UK or US, visit the Conspicuous website to find out more.
Rob Wachman is a director at Conspicuous
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