Internet of Things (IoT) operation centres are expected to become the next big thing in smart cities. Beyond systems and networks, smart city operation centres need to be IoT-based to break the silos between IT and OT and turn big data into big business. This article will explore IoT Operation Centres (IoCs), their benefits, and why they need to become an integral part of smart city projects as we advance.

What is a Smart City Operations Centre (SCOC)?

A Smart City Operations Centre (SCOC) — also called a Command-and-Control Centre (CCC) — is an environment that collects and analyses data, information, and intelligence. It is the platform for applying technology to operations and management, basically connecting information from devices, systems, and applications to support planning and administration by city managers and operators.

As cities shift from reactive management approaches to a proactive vigilance and solutions model, smart city operators and managers must have integrated and interconnected information processes. That’s where an operations centre comes in as the thinking part of the system, like the brain and central nervous system in a human.

SCOCs must comprehensively include Internet communications, data access, and analysis. That is because smart city management must assess the growing and urgent demands from an increasing urban population and use data to produce operational efficiency and useful outcomes.

The role of IoT in managing and sustaining smart cities

Smart city management uses technology to provide sustainable energy, water, and air quality. It also helps urban centres provide jobs and business opportunities when managing your smart city.

While a broad range of Things can be connected via the Internet of Things, the essential element is the flow of information from the connected devices to a central system. The connections can operate through either wireless or wired Internet networks and work with data from any reliable communication method. An IoT-based system can group technologies that access information from connected devices.

Accompanied by an exponential growth in computing power, the number of smart devices has increased dramatically in recent years. The combination of growing computing power and smart devices has created opportunities for dynamic impacts from smart city management. And the process can improve operational efficiency when managing your smart city.

On a global scale, technology drives economic growth and trends towards higher productivity. Businesses are beginning to embrace the impact of technological innovation and use technology to affect governance, change market relationships, and gain profitable advantages at increasing rates. Furthermore, governments can learn from business examples and pay attention to opportunities to use technology to improve efficiency and raise the quality of life for citizens and residents.

How IoT can be leveraged to develop, power, and manage smart city applications and solutions

Connected devices are essential items of infrastructure for a smart organisation. Devices can be the best access point for gathering information and collecting data about patterns and usage. You can use connected devices to provide data sets to support user customisation when managing your smart city. For example, smart homes can collect and store data on electricity use by home appliances. Together, these data can inform city-wide decisions; in particular analysis, the data can establish recommendations for area-specific processes.

On a larger scale, a smart city can gain operational efficiency, energy sustainability, and greater control of infrastructure through data analysis. Connected devices provide smart city operators and managers with information about the actual state of systems and how well they work. Smart city applications can then help automate processes to speed up the delivery of city services.

An operations centre can also improve public health and support proactive measures to detect and prevent the spread of disease. For example, cities have used wastewater sampling to detect the levels of COVID-19 in local populations. This use of data from sensors, sampling, and other connected devices supports better predictions, preparedness, and civic actions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The need for an IoT-based central operations centre

The infrastructure needed to maximise resources and benefits to the urban population expands with population growth and the number of connected devices in operation. The magnitude and diversity of data and data sources require a robust centralised platform for operational efficiency, analysis, and assessment. That’s where a central operations centre can help by analysing data and supporting the detailed smart city applications, technologies, and infrastructure management processes.

Smart city applications help cities measure amounts, discover fluctuations, and identify patterns. And central operations centres can develop smart city solutions. For example, a command-and-control centre can use traffic flow data to adjust traffic controls and reduce congestion. Utility companies can also use smart metres to track energy or water usage and efficiently manage consumption.

In the future, the deployment of battery systems can support the electric grid, whereby systems can store energy in off-peak usage periods and put energy into the system during high demands.

IoT Operation Centres: Taking SCOCs to the next level

IoT Operation Centres take Smart City Operating Centres to a higher level of complex data analysis and useful outcomes. The essential function and key advantage of IoT Operation Centres is that it combines the resources of separate systems. Multiple disparate IoT applications can operate as if inside information silos, and widespread deployment of IoT devices can cause a failure of system integration.

An IoT Operation Centre organises the different data resources into a system and provides a single view and control point. This, in turn, helps city managers and operators oversee automated processes, applications, and analytical functions.

Through an IoT-based operation centre, IoT applications can drive analytics and produce information to guide decision-making and support impactful actions. The centre’s computational power can work with innovative tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, and its capacity can support responsive smart city operational processes.

The benefits of IoCs for smart cities

IoT is a key element in smart city infrastructure. The system is an emerging universe of connected devices and sensors that generate real-time information for centralised management control. Moreover, the data points feed information during operations and trigger applications and automatic actions without further human interference.

IoT Operation Centres address the complexity of the volume of data, intelligence, and information. Their digital environment includes applications, legacy systems, and explosive growth in smart devices. Moreover, IoCs reduce complexity, manage automatic functions, and provide a platform for further innovation and improvement.

How IoCs help overcome challenges and meet needs

Smart city management solutions address problems common to many areas but individually, but operation centres can help smart cities overcome challenges affecting nearly every size of urban centres. They can address problems of sustainability and scale where solutions can fail when overwhelmed by size or demand.

Operation centres can also analyse data and detect valuable information across different patterns and levels of activity. They provide command centre functions, process city operations, and support decisions. An IoT-based operations centre can help detect the origins of problems and provide warnings to avoid risks, especially when emergency management requires advanced planning and responsive actions during extreme stress.

Benefits to city operators and citizens

Smart city management operations provide high levels of efficiency in detecting problems and managing them. IoT applications can improve simple but important tasks like waste management. Trash pickups promote sustainability if connected to sensors that alert by fill levels rather than fixed weekly schedules.

Cities are hubs for innovation and economic growth. They must also be liveable and support healthy, comfortable lifestyles. Monitoring the environment is an important benefit. Smart cities can monitor air quality, noise levels, ad water in real-time, and an IoT operations centre can promote efficiency at many levels, such as sensors that help control watering schedules for public parks and spaces.

Traffic and congestion can clog city roadways and impair commercial arteries. Parking can cause frustration and wasted fuel when drivers must search for spaces. But IoT technology offers solutions for traffic controls and systems to expedite parking.

Public safety can benefit from the detection of smoke and fires. Street lighting can promote safety and deter crime. And a city’s command-and-control centre can detect faults and failures and connect to remedial steps.

What next?

A smart and sustainable vision invites greater creative thinking about transformation. Improving everyday life for the growing numbers of urban dwellers requires a transformation to smart city solutions, sustainability, and effective management. IoT Operation Centres offer a path forward to smart energy management solutions essential to the ecosystem of cities.

At iotblue, we’ve designed and built Cervello Cities, an IoT-based smart city operations centre, and Cervello Spaces, an IoT-based smart space operations centre, to manage entire smart cities or smaller spaces.

Are you building a smart gated community? Connect with one of our IoT experts to discuss how we can help you manage your smart, sustainable space with Cervello Cities, our Smart City Operations Centre (SCOC).