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What data analytics can do for smart city development

Analytics is an integral part of smart city design and, in this blog, we discuss what data analytics can do for intelligent city design.

Growing awareness on environmental sustainability, carbon emissions and a host of other factors is making governments realise the importance of building people-centred cities, i.e. cities built for the convenience of citizens, instead of vehicles and (dare I say), corporations. These ‘smart cities’ are said to be part of a future trend in urban design and are key to solving urban problems. However, a huge component of this new design trend is data analytics. Analytics is an integral part of smart city design and, in this blog, we are going to explain what data analytics does for intelligent city design.

Addressing the challenges of smart city development

Connect data from different sources

Smart city development is fraught with challenges. To make a city that is truly resource-efficient and livable for people, urban planners require data from different sources. They need geospatial data, crime statistics, traffic data, foot traffic on different streets and the number of registered vehicles. But how can one make sense of data from disparate sources? That’s what data analytics is built for. Using technology, like AI and machine learning, analytics can analyse data using complex algorithms to draw connections across disparate sources to reveal useful information for city planners.

Planning for the future

Smart city planning is not just about planning for the present, it is also about the future. City planning for the present population improves living standards, but an influx of people can put a strain on resources and disrupt the quality of life. Urban planners need to account for the future when recommending policies and programs for smarter city management. What data analytics can do is anticipate the future with predictive analytics algorithms. Using analytics algorithms, urban planners can get a pretty accurate picture of the number of people coming into the city, and plan accordingly.

Securing data

If smart city development is to evolve, then the relationship between the local government and its citizens must also change. This involves (though not limited to) actively shaping the virtual infrastructure of the city and securing data. What data analytics capability contributes to protecting data? With the hosting and administrative responsibilities that come with operating analytics, there is a better chance that data will be secure because the information is in the hands of an analytics specialist team. The importance of shaping the environment becomes even more crucial once AI starts to play a larger role in a city’s infrastructure.

What data analytics has done in real-life applications

Data analytics is already working in different fields relating to smart city development.

Crime prevention

How do cities tackle crime? While conventional solutions involve arming and expanding the police force, what data analytics does is bring more solutions to the table. With analytics, urban planners and criminologists can identify areas and times where crime is frequent. Police can be deployed to these areas to prevent crime before it even happens. The method is already being used in London, Chicago and Los Angeles with great success.


What data analytics can do in transport is make the entire network more efficient than before, reducing the degree of congestion, frequency of delays and increasing the efficiency of transport networks in smart cities. Data analytics can even make public transport more efficient from an operational standpoint. Predictive analytics can anticipate the demand for transport during weekends or special events. Public transport can then be ramped up or reduced, depending on expected demand.

More efficient spending

One of the biggest problems smart cities have is allocating financial resources. It is not unusual to see a lot of money allocated to vanity projects, and not enough in vital services. What data analytics does is track spending more efficiently, so urban planners and elected officials can make better use of resources.

Making use of an analytics environment

While we talk about what data analytics can do for specific industries, we rarely address the transformative impact it will have on our future. People who doubt that data is worth more than oil need only take a look at the transformative impact big data will have on urban development, and by extension entire nations. What data analytics can do is make cities more sustainable, efficient and healthier for citizens around the world. These are truly exciting times, especially for those working in data analytics because we have a chance to not only improve outcomes for organisations, but also for entire cities.

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