Jorge Luis Filio Flores
High-tech can be used for city management
Smart Cities integrate information systems to better manage its resources and enhance its inhabitants’ standards of living. From guaranteeing adequate health conditions to traffic alleviation, it is the task of urban authorities to respond efficiently to any situation and prevent system failure in the provision of urban services. In order to take the best decisions, authorities must have firsthand relevant information. Such data can be easily obtained with high-tech devices, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), namely drones equipped with cameras and sensors of various types.
This leads the way to the building of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) within cities’ administration, these first are defined as “systems that gather and analyze georeferenced spatial data.” Drones are enabled to see more that we can imagine with hyperspectral sensors and make use of photogrammetry to obtain valuable information. Thousands of photos can be acquired with an automated 15-minute drone flight; when processed through software, this becomes one sole georeferenced image that can create a real-time scenario of the determined polygon. Plus, digital elevation models (DEM’s) can be created from a point cloud that can later be used for various purposes, namely, evaluation of the state of buildings and physical objects, due to the fact that this product of photogrammetry is a three-dimensional model.
Some concrete applications of these technologies in cities that have proven to be successful are the following:
- Road and road markings state monitoring (Lugo, Spain)
- Street and vehicle detection (Paris, France)
- Energy transmission lines state monitoring
- Urban vegetation loss (25 cities in the Pan-Pacific region)
- Informal settlements detection (Kigali, Rwanda)
- Illuminance and light poles malfunctioning detection
- Real-time collaborative GIS though Apps
- Estimation of air temperature in urban areas
- Disaster debris estimation (Sendai, Japan)
All of these practices of innovative technologies applied to cities are formidable examples of their usefulness for efficiency purposes of cities’ transport and services systems. There are an infinite number of applications of GIS, though investment must be done in UAV’s and the qualified personnel to obtain products such as DEM and georeferenced imaged with the use of software.
It is noteworthy to mention that emergency response can be a great area of incidence of these technologies. With the correct detection of firsthand relevant data on disasters occurring, rescue groups can arrive to the site promptly and save the greatest amount of lives as possible. Due to the nature of events like earthquakes for example, a quick response is the main factor for the lessening of tragedies.
Urban living generates a big set of information, which, if efficiently used, has proven to be of extreme help in decision-making processes. Automated flights across cities can be beforehand scheduled by city authorities to maintain an almost real-time monitoring of the area and thus, better fulfill their managing tasks.
Various research projects published in Elsevier by the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Inc. (ISPRS):