Smart cities and digital transformation — it is all about the interface
The northern suburbs of Melbourne are buzzing with enthusiasm due to Smart Cities initiatives — funded and encouraged by Federal and State Government. The strategy is to lead early adoption of IoT and analytics for the rapidly growing region, while also establishing educational pathways to evolve a new generation of data scientists at La Trobe and RMIT Universities and nearby TAFE organisations.
The installation of up to 48 LoRaWAN gateways will be one of the largest local deployments in the Southern Hemisphere. The numerous IoT sensors will provide insights into community usage of facilities and improvements to service delivery for the communities of Whittlesea, Banyule, Mitchell, Nillumbik and Moreland councils.
Massive amounts of new data will be created, monitored, stored and analysed in real time.
Geospatial technologies, combined with cloud, mobile, edge computing and online business intelligence portals, feature high in the approach to digitally transform the fastest growing suburbs in Victoria.
Sharing these resources is expected to also provide significant savings while preparing for the increases in traffic, population and urban development along all the northern transport corridors.
Free flowing data can be shared online keeping all stakeholders informed. Data as the new oil creates several opportunities, but also sheds a light on many limitations and challenges. Linking people, systems and information requires the right ICT hardware, software and expertise.
This consortia of Local Government, Tertiary and Small Businesses have been brought together through the NORTH Link regional development strategic plan and to also initiate a Digital Transformation and Analytics Hub where skilling up the next generation of knowledge workers is a central objective.
The group is also collaborating to provide Data Science and Analytics students with real world opportunities to engage directly with local businesses to answer questions for small business owners by unlocking the value contained in their own datasets in conjunction with other data sources.
The objective to this type of engagement is to raise awareness of what is possible with data, provide businesses competitive advantage and gain first-hand experience into the value contained in data they have assembled over the years and seed opportunities of employment for the new workforce in the near future.
Driven by technological and societal change, Local Governments are starting to share Business Intelligence portals to show corporate KPIs covering Assets and Infrastructure, Financial Management, Community Services Provision, Community Support, Regulation and Enforcement, Corporate Information Management.
However, when bringing new technologies into frame, the past can quickly catch up with you and impede the flow of progress.
Historic data inherently brings with it limitations, inconsistencies and errors.
- Tools like PowerBI dashboards and Geospatial maps shared online both excite and challenge organisations, as the data can be quickly assessed as either accurate or questionable or even worse absent.
- Where organisations are operating with paper processes, the availability of business information is impossible to acquire without significant effort.
- Many corporate systems were established as silos of valuable information with no easy way to extract and leverage the data stored within due to complex proprietary data structures or legacy database designs.
- Where people have been mobilised, the collection of data is not of a high enough quality to be relied on. This can be due to poor work practices, training, applications or devices.
- Field services organisations are still challenged with how to capture and collate a source of truth about complex assets activities and store spatial, GPS/GNSS or location-based information.
The building blocks of digital transformation are based on embracing the most appropriate technologies to efficiently bridge people with processes and purpose, to plan, map, integrate and prioritise services, budgets and decisions to act.
What happens when the data you have at your fingertips is wrong?
Now that data can be more readily shared as meaningful representations of more complex statistical information in combination with other datasets either as graphical explanations or thematic maps, it is even more important to provide near real-time quality assured ways to correct datasets while in use.
How do you update or fix the data onsite when you find an error?
Whether location reference or attribute, field people often have no opportunity to provide improvements to the data while at the location.
It is not enough to know an address but where at that property is the item located?
Industry leaders like Australian company RapidMap have been leveraging GNSS/GPS, mobile computers, spatial technologies and developing GIS mapping applications for multiple concurrent users to collaborate in the field since the 1990s. Specialising in asset data capture surveys to accurately assemble spatial inventories of above and below ground infrastructure assets for Local and State government and utilities, RapidMap has developed highly evolved mobile data quality processes and digital workflows to ensure field-office connectivity. Quality assurance on the fly where ‘Accuracy first and then Momentum’ is the mantra.
RapidMap are living proof that digital transformation is a journey not a destination. As they have continuously innovated award-winning technologies and project solutions for nearly three decades.
Located in Bundoora, RapidMap has worked for each of the LGAs involved in the Smart Cities initiative outlined above. Their project success has largely been due to the selection of the right tools for the job. Their technical team leaders point out that while a range of hardware and software geospatial technologies are combined to share, audit, collect and QA spatially accurate datasets that the answer to quality and productivity is all about the Interface!
Essentially complex and challenging project requirements to achieve timely and efficient quality data capture is based on deploying effective user interface which is a combination of many solutions, with the most important being the mobile applications and choice of device.
While RapidMap design and engineer their own applications to increase the productivity of both their surveyors and clients, they advocated the importance of rugged quality mobile computing devices.
Following a recent assessment of various devices on the market, RapidMap now exclusively uses Zebra rugged computers in their Field Data Capture fleet including the Zebra L10 xPad, L10 xSlate and L10 xBooks and even more importantly the deployment of the Rugged TC77 dual sim Smart Android Phone. All have built in GPS/GNSS, 13MP cameras and View Anywhere Screens to be the perfect interface for rapid data collection anywhere, in any environment.
“Rugged tablets and smart phones may be a significant capital investment in the first instance, when you evaluate the Total Cost of Ownership, these devices significantly outperform consumer devices,” said General Manager, Brendan McNamara.
“We rarely lose any time to equipment failure and often get in excess of five years’ good service. Ensuring our team — even when working offline and in remote areas — are operational and productive. It can be expensive mobilising our team to each site, so we need to make sure every minute counts and trip delivers the high-quality data for our clients.
The investment in Zebra rugged devices means that we don’t lose time in technical support, our team have the right equipment and coupled with our Asset Mapping software they have the best interface to capture quality assured asset information to suit our clients’ asset management systems, business intelligence dashboards and GIS maps.”
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