Urban analytics key to establishing Smart Cities, says expert

10 Oct 2017

As nations increasingly look to build smarter cities, New York City’s former chief analytics officer, Dr Amen Ra Mashariki, emphasises the importance of urban analytics for increasing the efficiency of citywide services.

In Singapore for the Esri Singapore User Conference, Dr Amen, Urban Analytics Practice Lead at Esri, will share with representatives of local government agencies and businesses how data analytics enables organisations to transform the way they address real-world challenges in the community.

Dr Amen noted that inexhaustible data generated by people and organisations on a daily basis can be turned into valuable insights – for understanding present-day situations and visualising the future. Coupled with location-based analytics, such information can enable organisations to chart innovative ways of making their products and services more inclusive, engaging, and meaningful.

“Urban analytics is focused on impact and operational efficiencies. It is not just about mapping different places, but about empowering users to deploy services in a smart and effective manner,” said Dr Amen.

Citing an example, Dr Amen shared that data analytics enabled New York City to mitigate occurrences of tenant harassment.

“In New York City, where the rent stabilisation system prevents sharp increases in rent, there were many instances of landlords harassing tenants, in hopes of inducing them to abandon existing rental contracts, so that landlords may increase rent with subsequent tenancy. By mapping out past cases of harassment to identify trends and relationships, we were able to proactively prevent further cases,” he said.

Additionally, amid a Legionnaires disease outbreak in 2015, the use of data analytics enabled the city to identify buildings with cooling towers – prime breeding grounds for the deadly disease – and to coordinate disinfection efforts.

In moving towards its Smart Nation vision, Singapore too can benefit from urban analytics, and Dr Amen lauds the Singapore government efforts to date.

For example, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) relies on its GeoAnalytics tool, GEMMA, to analyse, compose and evaluate urban planning scenarios. Through this common platform, planners across different government agencies can now identify strategic areas to inject more jobs or homes, to better rejuvenate older towns or help bring more jobs closer to homes. This will ensure that people will have convenient access to public services and facilities when they are eventually built.

Additionally, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) further strengthened its smart mapping capabilities recently with the Singapore Advanced Map (SAM) – a new planning system that allows SLA to integrate 2D maps and 3D models. With this tool, planners and analysts can now better visualise situations above- and under-ground to aid in operation planning, situational awareness, decision-making, risk management and policy formulation.

Such government-led efforts will continue to augment the local data analytics market’s development, which market research agency Frost & Sullivan forecasted to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 32.4 per cent, from $973.8 million in 2016 to $5.25 billion in 2022.

Esri Singapore CEO Thomas Pramotedham said, “Singaporeans generate a lot of data each day and thus when analysed, it enables government agencies to develop smarter ways of delivering their mandate. Esri Singapore is pleased to be working with various public sector departments to derive insights that drive critical socio-economic development initiatives.”

The Esri Singapore User Conference takes place on 29 September 2017 (Friday) at the Max Atria, Singapore Expo.

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