Today, “smart cities” and the technology that helps develop them is one of the fastest-growing industries currently out there. In total, the global smart cities market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 20 percent over the next five years, with about two-thirds of the world’s largest cities having already invested in the technology and many others considering its implementation.
While the definition of a smart city is still evolving, a few things have become clear. Smart cities can leverage information and communication technologies to enhance service levels, citizen well-being, sustainability, and economic development.
“Through the increased connectivity and speed of data, the real-time communications offered by smart city technology has the potential to impact almost every part of today’s cities,” said Jeffrey Singman, SVP Sales and Marketing, Kandy Communications, a cloud-based, real-time communications platform. “This widespread adoption of technology, such as Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) and Communications Platforms as a Service (CPaaS), is changing the way cities and their citizens interact with each other.”
UCaaS lets organizations leverage a variety of communication and collaboration applications and services hosted by a provider, which usually provides higher levels of availability, flexibility, and scalability, and greater cost savings.
Similarly, Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is a cloud-based delivery model that lets users add voice, video, and messaging features to your existing business software using APIs. The technology allows the user to cherry-pick real-time communications features and embed them into their apps and services as they see necessary.
One particular part of the city landscape that can be optimized through the use of the technologies is emergency response. Firemen, police, and paramedics all need to communicate with each other during a crisis to coordinate response and recovery efforts, and while UCaaS is typically associated with corporate communications, the tools provided can bring many advantages to public safety organizations.
“Whether they are accidents, fires, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters, almost everything a first responder does relies on quick and accurate information,” said Singman. “Police, firefighters, EMS, and hospitals could all benefit from clear, real-time communication with UCaaS.”
To start, UCaaS ensures that first responders have access to the most current and correct information. If first responders lack timely information, they could lose track of an assailant or put their resources in the wrong position and acting on inaccurate information can result in more casualties. Public safety organizations can communicate in real-time using instant messaging and give continual updates as conditions change.
On top of this, UCaaS allows for better communications between emergency services during a crisis. First responders need access to a wide variety of communication tools so they can coordinate efforts, and UCaaS provides many options for communication, including voice, video, instant messaging, and file sharing. For example, medical records can be accessed in the field, while doctors at the hospital can confer with EMTs at the scene.
“Once a 911 call comes in, first responders must know where to go, and the site of a traumatic incident is chaotic. Also, emergency responders may sometimes not have visibility into a building where a crisis is taking place,” said Singman. “But with UCaaS, such as Kandy’s, voice messages are clear and jitter-free, so first responders can feel confident they are working with accurate and complete information.”
Finally, through the use of CPaaS technology, emergency services are able to keep citizens safe through “reverse 911” alerts. As brought up earlier, CPaaS allows for real-time communications to be embedded into apps and services, which gives emergency services the ability to leverage “push to notify” technology. Through this, emergency services can notify citizens of an emergency anywhere in the city with a simple push of a button. This gives citizens the information necessary to avoid the incident and help with a victim/assailant search.
Smart city technology has the potential to optimize efficiency on all levels in a city, and there should be no reason why the same can’t be done for first responders and emergency services within cities. As we continue to push into an ever more digital age, smart city technology will give people and cities the ability to save money and save lives.
“Not all the work public safety organizations do is as high-risk as responding to a shooting scene, but even on a typical day, smart city tools allow members of a public safety team to effectively respond to incidents,” said Singman. “Through the use of tech such as UCaaS and CPaaS, like Kandy’s, fast and reliable real-time communication is the key to preventing or minimizing risks to the public.”
Edited by Luke Bellos