Geospatial Imagery during a Global Pandemic
How COVID-19 and geospatial data can drive the future for more sustainable smart cities

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated businesses’ digital transformation in ways not seen before. Beyond the surge in the use of more online applications, digitization has become a priority for companies seeking to continue operations.

Now, in light of the pandemic, which brings further uncertainty and opportunities for a first-mover advantage, it is a good time to do so. Smart city applications are manifold and can address diverse and yet similar challenges that cities face worldwide. These include congestion, burgeoning populations, gaps in infrastructure, inadequate service delivery, exclusion, poverty, a lack of competitiveness, limited liveability, vulnerability to climate change, and natural and artificial disasters. In some cases, especially in emerging countries, challenges are even more significant and affect some of these cities’ very survival.

To name a few, applications that use smart solutions are waste management, traffic congestion, citizen safety, affordable housing, water resource management, intelligent buildings, efficient use of energy, renewable energy resources, navigation of autonomous vehicles, citizen participation, and stakeholder consultation. Many of those applications are increasingly implemented in smart cities. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is helping cities leapfrog certain stages of development by harnessing affordable digital solutions.

Geodata for cloud-based technologies

Big data analytics using technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart grids and meters drive and support the development of smart, sustainable cities throughout the world.Integrating digital technologies, especially AI, allows vast data sets to be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns used to inform and enhance planners’ decision-making. Moreover, they can be deployed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through efficient use of the smart city resources, effective stakeholder engagement, informed decision-making, and better governance.

The pre-condition for integrating digital technologies is to have online access to multi-dimensional and multi-temporal data sets, suitable analytical tools, and access to fully scalable modern computational resources. IoT refers to the network of rapidly growing computing devices with built-in sensors and software to connect real-time geospatial data to centralized control systems. Sharing data enabling billions of devices and objects equipped with smart sensors to connect, collect real-time information, and send it via wireless communication. These, in turn, manage traffic, reduce energy usage and improve a wide range of urban operations and services. The value of IoT will even increase exponentially if those devices will have access to their geospatial context information allowing them to put their measurements in a higher informational context.

Smart grids—referring to electricity supply networks that use digital communication technology to detect and react to local changes in usage—help optimize cities’ energy use. Smart meters and sensors, equipped with Internet Protocol addresses, can communicate information about the end-users energy use to the energy supplier, giving end-users more control over their consumption.

Today 5G technology plays a crucial role in connecting devices to the Internet and other devices reliably, transport data much more quickly, and process a high volume of data with minimal delay.

Urban planning is made easy with satellite and aerial imagery

Many cities are currently developing; therefore, there’s a growing demand for up-to-date land topography and land use maps, and other spatial data products. These maps are essential to land use development, natural resource management, and engineering applications.

Many urban site planning projects are based on multi-source remote sensing techniques to ensure the best quality data over broad areas. Mapping applications within urban environments focus on using the latest and least time-consuming approaches to provide the highest product quality at a lower cost.

Satellite and aerial data help with urban planning by regulating and monitoring planning applications, city infrastructure modeling, change detection, carbon footprint analysis, and 3D modeling, including digital city creation. Satellite data offers urban planners a powerful tool in analyzing and understanding the existing urban environment to optimize planning decisions for the development of that environment.

Smart cities require standards that enable data and apps to interoperate easily. An excellent way to begin is to develop a citywide 2D and 3D urban data model to integrate different sources of available geospatial data on the cloudeo Marketplace. The data model becomes the city’s standard, a language that all actors, datasets, and technologies interact with. Consequently, digital twins of cities will evolve, which will allow new levels of understanding and planning of city developments.
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