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How smart city technology supports critical infrastructure: 3 keys to success

Smart infrastructure expert Ariel Stern, shares his top tips on succeeding with digitization.

CN Tower cityscape with tech overlay on top

Supporting critical infrastructure is a key concern for all municipalities. Someone needs to fix the pipes, make sure water is running, clean the overflows, and perform other maintenance tasks. But it can be challenging to keep pace, as funding always seems to decrease while the support requirements for your aging infrastructure grows.

We recently interviewed Ariel Stern, CEO of Ayyeka and expert in municipal water management and technology transformation, on how smart city technology can help you operate more efficiently and cost-effectively. 

"You don't need to rip and replace your current infrastructure to gain benefits from smart technology," said Stern. "The process can be as simple as adding sensors to your current assets and using their data to prioritize repair and upgrades. The insights you gain can also reduce your need for emergency maintenance, as they help you predict what areas will be under strain and why."

How smart city technology improves municipal operations

Your hardware not only needs to last; it needs to perform reliably in harsh environments, such as outside, underground, or near corrosive gases. Pairing smart city technology with secure data analysis can help you maintain your operations and deliver services reliability and securely—even under challenging conditions.

According to Stern, smart city technology drives more value from municipal assets by extending their serviceable life. This can reduce your operations costs while improving your asset reliability.

When you use smart city technology to improve your municipal water operations, you can:

  • Deliver services more efficiently
  • Reduce your operational and maintenance costs
  • Improve worker safety
  • Better comply with environmental and other regulations
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Keep your data secure 

3 steps municipalities must take to succeed with digital transformation

When considering where digitization can have the most impact, start by identifying your critical and remote infrastructure and the problems associated with them. For water, this might be where you experience flooding when high overflows happen. Which mains are prone to bursting? Where do you have low-pressure areas?

Once you identify your critical infrastructure, determine what information might help your decision-making. This step may lead you to as simple a solution as adding a pressure, flow or vibration sensor to problem areas.

"The first remedy for your utility pains is to monitor your assets more effectively. The data that you collect can improve almost all of your processes."

Here are three steps Stern advises to help drive the most value from your data:

  1. Generate data. IoT and smart cities are all about data. The better your data, the more you can improve your efficiencies. Data from smart sensors will provide critical information that you can combine with data from your other sources.
  2. Consolidate the data. When you start collecting data, you may find yourself with a series of large Excel files. Consolidating this data ensures that you store information correctly so you can reuse it again and again.
  3. Analyze the data. Focus on two types of analytics—immediate analytics and long-term modeling.
  • Immediate analytics include situational awareness that gives you real-time alerts when something abnormal happens. Armed with these insights, you can take proactive steps to optimize your operations. For example, you can re-route dispatch teams to the areas where they are most needed.
  • You also need data for successful, long-term modeling. For example, when assessing (or preparing) a development plan, better data helps you understand and predict the impacts on areas such as traffic, power, water and drainage.

It's vital to perform the three steps in the order listed above. If you skip one, you may end up wasting your money on a solution that has little impact on your city's daily activity.

Learn more about smart cities or speak with your local Rogers representative for more details.