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While many governments are recent converts to the smart city ideology, Singapore has been a movement leader for decades. And the Asian city-state is about to ramp up its efforts with its soon-to-be-unveiled Smart Nations strategy.
The GovTech site features a lengthy discussion with Singapore’s CIO Chan Cheow Hoe which serves as a master-class in smart city planning.
Over the years Chan says one of Singapore’s biggest revelations is that effective smart city programs must be first and foremost customer-centric.
“The whole idea is to first establish a relationship…and a point of trust between government and the people,” he says.
“The second thing — that I think is very important — is the concept of what we call ‘frictionless’ government,” Chan says. “What we are trying to do is to take out all this unnecessary friction as much as possible, and this goes back to the customer experience.”
Singapore’s lengthy smart city history includes such projects as traffic congestion analytics, waste monitoring and sustainable buildings.
Driving the city-state’s early smart city adoption was its need to maximize the use of its compact 427 square miles of geography to best serve its bustling population of 5.6 million.
One of the biggest smart city challenges faced by Singapore, and indeed all global governments, is modernizing outdated legacy IT systems. Legacy systems often hinder shifting infrastructure to the cloud and frequently dampen innovative thinking.
However, Singapore tackled this familiar bugbear by focusing its efforts on improving customer service while minimizing service disruptions to its core systems.
“We started splitting up what we call our system of records with the system of engagement,” says Chan. “We made the legacy system just a simple system of records. We shut off the front end and we essentially built a funnel on top of it.”
He says this allowed Singapore to be agile in building front end customer services while leaving the legacy systems relatively intact.
“It decreases the need for the legacy systems significantly, and over a period of time allows resources to be dedicated to the customer experience,” he says.
These improvements allowed Singapore to build up a trust-based relationship with its citizens through its digitalID strategy. This strategy focused on breaking various pools of data out of their silos to remove much of the friction in government-citizen interactions, manifesting in such projects as MyInfo.
Singapore has data issues sorted out
MyInfo pulls data on citizens from various departments into a useable pool of verified information.
“Instead of you bringing your ID card and everything to show these things, you don’t have to do these unnecessary transactions anymore because the data is pulled directly,” he says. “This data doesn’t belong to the government — the data still belongs to you as an individual — but you have the right to consent to give that data to somebody else.”
Singapore is presently embarking on its ambitions Smart Nation initiative which will include the deployment one of the most sprawling sensor and camera networks a city has ever seen.
And with such a vast array of sensors, the obvious issue of how to secure such expansive Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Chan says securing IoT is a running battle that no one can solve with a silver bullet.
“The question for us now is really about categorizing systems. There are highly secure systems we will spend a lot of money protecting,” says Chan. “For the rest, it is what it is.”
“If something happens to it we are just going to accept the risk and move on, as long as the risk is not so big that it actually cripples certain critical services in the country.”
The post Are happier citizens making Singapore a smart city leader? appeared first on ReadWrite.
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Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal government, which won the federal election last month, has revealed a Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, with the intention of bringing local councils and tech firms to the table.
The $50 million program calls for local councils to implement smart city technology to improve cities and suburbs. Federal funds will back part of the project; private and local funding will pay for the rest.
It will host a series of public-private roundtable sessions next month that attempt to establish contracts between councils and companies.
“The Smart Cities and Suburbs Program is to support clever technology ideas to fix difficult or long standing community issues,” said the Assistant Minister for Cities, Angus Taylor, at the Future Cities Summit. “The most valuable projects will be transformative collaborations between multiple councils and technology industry partners that link closely with future plans for the area.”
The federal government is looking for projects that enhance the security, livability, and sustainability of cities. Projects that look to reduce the local council costs would also be considered, as the Liberal government looks to reduce the budget deficit.
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has already shown interest in building Internet of Things (IoT) platforms in Australian cities. It launched a trial of its smart sewage platform in Victoria a few months ago, in partnership with Vodafone.
Australia announcement looks familiar
Australia is not the first country to bring cities and companies together. In the U.S., the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently ran a Smart City Challenge, which offered $40 million (plus $10 million from Paul Allen’s Vulcan) to the city with the most compelling manifesto.
Columbus, Ohio won, but many of the finalists like Denver, Colorado and San Francisco, California said that private investment reached over $20 million. Some of the cities plan to continue to the public-private projects, while others have said they plan to be more open to tech experts and firms in the future.
Australia’s government should be hoping for a similar outcome, even if the program isn’t winner takes all.
The post Australia to spend millions making its cities smarter appeared first on ReadWrite.
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It’s been another wild year in swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The last events wrap up today, but it’s been hard to miss the appearance of more technology poolside this year, even if all you noticed were the headphones helping Michael Phelps maintain his death-stare:
But getting into the zone while on deck isn’t that new. Getting closer to a world record is the greater goal of all this new technology. Here’s what you might have seen in swimmer’s bags this year:
The Misfit Shine
In June, wearables company Misfit and well know sports swimming brand Speedo announced the launch of their second Speedo-branded activity, swim, and sleep tracker, Misfit Shine 2 Swimmers Edition. Misfit and Speedo’s proprietary lap counting algorithms track a swimmer’s lap count with industry-leading accuracy and work for all stroke types.
New features with Speedo Shine include:
- A vibration motor and multicolor lights, enabling multi-faceted user feedback—see progress and tell time in a halo of rainbow-colored lights, or get motivated with Misfit Move activity
- A countdown swim timer—users pick a time to swim and Speedo Shine 2 provides a gentle vibe alert when a workout is complete
- Text and call notifications and a silent vibe alarm
- Misfit Link compatibility, turning Speedo Shine 2 into a music remote, selfie trigger, presentation clicker, or button to enable a variety of smart home devices and web services
VTT wearable sensors
In cooperation with Finland’s national swimming team and archery association, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed wearable technology for improving sports performance. Wearable sensors can be attached to, say, a swimmer’s hand paddles or an archer’s equipment. From there, data is wirelessly transferred to the coach’s smartphone or tablet.
The sensors embedded in the paddles provide surprisingly precise and varied data on the wearer’s swimming technique. This covers stroke length and changes in it during swimming, the relationship between the outward stroke and recovery, the structure of the stroke and the average pull, the hand position and the pressure exerted by the stroke in different directions. According to Simo Karvinen, the Finnish Junior Olympic Team coach:
“Swimming is an unusual sport because it is not easy for the athlete to check his or her own performance in the water. In addition, very few means are available of measuring development in the swimmer’s technique, in terms such as the efficiency of hand strokes. VTT’s technology provides a means of directly observing the power of each hand stroke and its trajectory through the water, without disrupting performance.”
Using sound data to boost performance
Researchers at Bielefeld University have developed a system that professional swimmers can use to optimize their swimming technique. It enables swimmers to hear, in real time, how the pressure of the water flows created by the swimmer changes with their movements. This gives the swimmer an advantage over their competitors because they can refine the execution of their technique. This “Swimming Sonification” system was developed at the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) of Bielefeld University.
Dr. Thomas Hermann of CITEC is working on converting data into sounds that can be used to benefit the listener. This is called sonification, a process in which measured data values are systematically turned into audible sounds and noises. “In this project, we are using the pressure from water flows as the data source,” says Hermann. “We convert into sound how the pressure of water flows changes while swimming – in real time. We play the sounds to the swimmer over headphones so that they can then adjust their movements based on what they hear,” explains Hermann.
This system includes two gloves worn during practice, featuring thin tube ends that serve as pressure sensors and are fixed between the fingers. The tubes are linked to a measuring device that transmits data about water flow pressure to a laptop. Custom-made software then sonifies the data; it turns the information into sound. The sounds are transmitted to the swimmer in real time over headphones. When the swimmer modifies a movement, he hears live how this also changes the sound.
In a practical workshop held in September 2015, professional swimmers tested the system out and confirmed that it indeed helped them to optimize their swimming technique. Of the ten swimmers who participated, three of them qualified for international competitions, and one of the female swimmers is competing this year at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The researchers want to continue developing their current prototype. “We are planning to develop a wearable system that can be used independently by the user, without the help of others,” says Thomas Hermann. In addition to this, the new sonification method is planned to be incorporated into long-term training programs in cooperation with swim clubs.
Samsung blind cap
Samsung’s latest innovation is a special swimming cap that vibrates to alert the swimmers precisely when to do their flip turn at the end of the pool. The Blind Cap eliminates the need for a coach or guide to physically tap the swimmer with a pole to indicate the lane coming to an end — the method used since swimming for the blind was established as an official Paralympic sport in 1960.
The Blind Cap is equipped with a vibrating sensor and Bluetooth technology. It synchronizes with the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch and any Android smartphone to work in conjunction with an app. This allows the swimmer’s coach to send a warning signal from their smartphone or smartwatch, which is converted into a vibration within the cap of the blind swimmer, prompting the swimmer to turn without additional help.
What about swimming googles?
Evidence suggests that connected googles are indeed on the way but seem to be taking longer in manufacturing than anticipated. OnCourse Googles is created googles designed for open water swimming (ok, so technically these are more for the World Aquatic Games than the Olympics) to help keep the wearer swimming in a straight line using a pair of subtle LEDs. The goggles analyze the direction the user is swimming and if they veer off course. LEDs notify them of which direction they need to swim in order to remain on course as well as the severity of deviation.
These were predicted to be launched in the summer of 2016 but remain absent. Israel based startup Instabeat has also created smart googles that specifically measure a swimmer’s heartbeat. However they’ve been subject to significant delays of over two years and are pledging to go to retail in Q1 2017.
In a sport where the difference between winning and losing is a hundredth of a second, there are no doubt boxes of technological innovations that are kept under wraps by the Olympic teams.
We’ll probably only become aware of these if medalists and their media machine sponsors, decide to share the word.
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32.6 trillion liters.
That, roughly, is the amount of water annually lost through leaky pipes before it gets to homes, businesses and hospitals. Put another way, if you could detect those leaks and plug them, you could almost fill China’s Three Gorges Dam to the brim every year with clean, treated water.*
The “leaky pipe” problem highlights one of the biggest challenges we face in the coming decades. Simply put, we’re going to have to figure out new ways to bring basic resources like food, power and water to a growing number of people who increasingly live in large urban centers. These are the defining issues of Sustainable Cities.
Approximately 54% of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, a figure that will likely rise to 66% by 2050. China alone will have 221 cities with over one million people by 2025 (Europe has only 35 today). The number of megacities with more than ten million residents will more than double in the coming years.
The good news is that we can do this. The increasing sophistication and declining cost of digital technologies will become a platform for economizing resources and sharing physical space in ways that are both economical and more convenient. Things will be micromanaged, but you won’t feel like you’re being micromanaged.
All kinds of resources are leaking away
Consider the experience of Maynilad, the water agency for Manila. Maynilad serves millions of customers over 540 square kilometers: it manages nearly 7,500 kilometers of water and sewer pipes and 19 reservoirs. In 2007, nearly 20% of the citizens in its service territory could not even get service, roughly half did not have 24-hour service and over half did not have sufficient water pressure to support basic functions and services.
As part of an overhaul, Maynilad pursued an aggressive program to monitor the entire water system with metrics like real-time water flows, while mapping consumption patterns in different geographies. By 2013, it was servicing 94.7% percent of its customers, 97% had 24 hour service and 99% had sufficient pressure. At the same time, Maynilad recovered 640 million liters of treated water.
Or consider power theft. Electric power is the third most lost [stolen] commodity in the world. Some estimate that over 30% of India’s electric power gets stolen on a regular basis, causing chronic blackouts and economic losses exceeding $17 billion annually. These kinds of losses happen everywhere, not just in India. South Africa, Brazil and Eastern Europe face similar challenges. Technology has been developed that can remotely detect unusual usage patterns and thwart thieves. (A substantial portion of stolen power is used in illegal drug operations so it has a positive impact on community safety as well.)
These same technologies to monitor the electricity grid, can be used inside of the buildings and businesses connected to the grid. In fact they will become a gateway for economic revitalization. Studies show that energy efficient buildings achieve higher rental rates and often get “leased up” more quickly: on average, owners claim their ROI is 19.2% higher than on normal projects. In another example of using technology to drive sustainable outcomes, smart parking systems can reduce emissions and energy consumption as well as reduce resistance to coming to crowded down areas. It’s no coincidence that urban campuses like Carnegie Mellon and UC Berkeley have been incubating start-ups in this market.
Not only for the megacity
Megacities, won’t be the only proving ground either. Lawrence, Kansas, a college city with a population of 90,000 is currently experimenting with using software to reduce the cost and energy involved in treating wastewater by shifting treatment procedures to off-peak hours. These technologies are being tested and deployed in both Megacities and villages.
Microgrid technologies being developed and tested in Industrial Academic centers are being deployed in places like rural India, where sustainable supply of clean renewable energy is a real life changer, providing power necessary for refrigeration, water treatment and other basic necessities.
None of this, of course, will happen overnight. Advanced lighting and energy management systems will have to pass multiple pilot tests before they percolate everywhere. The first widespread “smart” vehicles won’t likely won’t be passenger cars. They may be ships, trains and trucks operating at first in somewhat controlled environments and their performance will be dissected in multiple ways. Technology providers are also going to have to figure out new business models—as a service? Lease to own?– to make these upgrades as painless as possible.
Privacy and security also have to be considered. When Twitter goes down, people make jokes about it on the Internet. If your metropolitan transportation district unexpectedly shut down, the result would be chaos. Making sure systems are resilient, secure and redundant will be just as important, if not more important, than new features.
Again, this won’t be easy. The next few decades will be a time of trial and error. But I believe we’re going to discover we have more resources than we thought, and collectively we will drive Sustainable Outcomes and the technology platforms will be a key component of every city and village. I am excited about this future, I am excited about Sustainability, and I am excited about the technologies to help make it happen.
The author is the smart city principal and corporate fellow and OSIsoft
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Content that generates traffic is great; content that generates leads and sales is better. Columnist Janet Driscoll Miller offers tips for content performance, from creation to optimization to conversion.
The post Making your content perform beyond just SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.
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Making your content perform beyond just SEO
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Another potential optimization issue can be thin content. What if the writer doesn't write enough content, and Google thinks it's too thin? The Yoast plugin for WordPress is helpful for contributors who may not always know basic SEO rules for content …
If You're Only Focused on Keywords, Here's Why You're Thinking Wrong
How to Get Past the Dreaded SEO Plateau
Dan Anton SEO: Automation collides with personalization
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The implementation of Broadcom Wi-Fi and BLE technology is changing the way we live, in regards to our health as well as our lifestyles. Since the development of internet, things have rapidly changed around us as the many uses of internet are realized.
Today, we have the opportunity for real-time video gaming, music streaming and staying connected around the clock by way of social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Google.
How Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connect appliances
Through Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technologies, the power of the Internet can be used to connect devices we never would have considered before. In the near future, we will probably wonder how we ever managed without them. This concept of connected devices is named the “Internet of Things”, and it is rapidly expanding in use.
Broadcom’s Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) technology integrates wireless technology with home systems such as appliances and thermostats, making it a possibility to turn any home appliance into a remotely controlled device.
The combination of Wi-Fi-based connectivity with WICED removes the guess work out of monitoring energy usage, which allows for lower utility bills. It can also give owners information about their home devices, helping them make better choices in regards to maintenance. Connected home appliances that can be monitored and controlled remotely are an amazing concept that has already been turned into a reality, and is actually considered the norm for many. There are already numerous connected devices that are making home life simpler.
But massive scale isn’t everything with smart appliances
There are a lot of connected appliances out there now, and not everything has massive scale. GE’s FirstBuild facility is using smaller scale manufacturing to quickly develop more of these smart devices, more quickly.
Some other interesting smart appliance applications include:
SkylinkNet alarm system
The SkylinkNet alarm system is just one of many smart home security systems available today. Window and door fixtures are secured with motion sensors that alert owners when there is an intruder. It is simple to set up SkyLink’s product and connect it to a smartphone. It offers a keychain fob that allows users to remotely alarm and disarm the security system, and it provides a button for users to call for help if needed.
Philips Hue is a smart lighting system for the home that integrates LED lighting with mobile technology. An app connects to Wi-Fi and allows users to control various bulbs and lighting systems within their home.
Nest smart thermostat
Controllable by a smartphone and an accompanying app, the Nest Thermostat is a smart device created by Nest, and it has the potential to lower an energy bill by up to 20 percent. Nest offers other IoT home devices as well, including a camera security system and smoke alarms.
A controller for all smart appliances, LG HomeChat hub makes controlling other devices a breeze, from changing washer cycles, to turning on a robot vacuum and much more. The hub also diagnoses any problems with appliances, and alerts users.
With Kevo, a smartphone can be turned into a door key. Available to Android and iOS smartphone users, the Kevo is an electronic deadbolt that interacts with a Kevo Fob and an accompanying app to unlock or lock a door. The app can also be used to send virtual keys to guests that need temporary access.
Withings Body Cardio Scale
Withings’s most recent smart scale, the Body Cardio, can record a person’s heart rate along with pulse wave velocity. The scale connects to a smart phone, sending all kinds of health data to users including muscle, water and bone mass and heart health.
These are just a few of the numerous connected home appliances available today. With so many appliances becoming connected, what things will be next? How about an app-controlled coffee maker that allows users to operate it remotely? Oh wait…That already exists.
The post Iot and home appliances: Making your life a little easier appeared first on ReadWrite.
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