Safe & Smart Cities:

Part 3: Command & Control Centers and Digital Services

This part of the Smart City Series focuses on how a well-orchestrated Command & Control Center benefits Smart City initiatives by streamlining operations and enhances Digital Cervices and connectivity with citizens and Municipal field staff.

The Heart of Smart Cities: A Unified Control Center

In the ecosystem of smart cities, the unified control center stands as the operational heart, orchestrating the seamless integration and management of various technologies and services across the city. This centralized hub ensures that cities can respond effectively to both routine management tasks and emergency situations, leveraging Unified Control Platforms integrated with tools like CRM (Customer Relationship Management), CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) and AI Video Analytics, IoT sensors, Planning tools, BI (Business Intelligence) tools, and other existing technologies.

A unified control center consolidates data from multiple sources—such as sensors, cameras, data sources and management systems—into a single interface. This consolidation enables city officials and emergency responders to make informed decisions quickly, based on real-time data and analytics.

Key benefits noticeable in a typical Smart City project include:

  • Enhanced Situational Awareness: By integrating data from diverse sources, the control center provides a comprehensive view of urban operations, from traffic conditions to public safety incidents.
  • Improved Response Times: Real-time data and analytics enable quicker responses to emergencies, minimizing impact and enhancing citizen safety.
  • Efficient Resource Allocation: Centralized monitoring and management facilitate the optimal deployment of resources, ensuring that city services are delivered efficiently and effectively.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: The integration of BI tools allows for the analysis of large datasets, supporting strategic planning and the identification of trends and patterns in city operations.
  • Better transparency for the citizens: Acting as the information and a task management hub, the Command and Control Platform can leverage integrations with CRM and citizen notification systems to provide real-time updates and task statuses to citizens who reported issues or contacted the Municipality to receive services or information.In addition to real-time updates, the Unified Platform can help fuse data from disparate sources and present insights and information to citizens using carefully managed public interfaces
  • An open platform for future technologies: One of the key aspects of a successful Smart City Management Platform is its’ capability to adapt and connect to new sensors and sub-systems as the Municipality continues its’ journey of Smart City initiatives and adopts new technologies over time.
    For instance, our SMART-M platform had been tested and proven with dozens of integrations done for our customers, tailored to their specific needs. The wide integration capability provides each Municipality with a one-stop access to fully control their systems, as well as empowers decision makers with clearer insights through data fusion and process automation.

Cities such as Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, Rishon LeZion and Dubai have implemented unified control centers in various configurations to enhance urban management and improve operations with digital tools.
For instance, Tel Aviv’s Urban Control Center manages everything from traffic and resource management to park irrigation and street lighting, significantly improving operational efficiency and citizen satisfaction.

A unified control center is crucial for the efficient and effective management of smart cities, enabling the integration of various technologies into a cohesive system. By providing a centralized platform for data analysis and decision-making, it ensures that cities are better equipped to manage daily operations and respond to emergencies.
MER Group’s expertise in designing and implementing dozens of control centers positions us as a leader in the field, ready to assist cities in realizing their smart city visions.

Improving Quality of Service in Citizen-Facing Departments through Data Fusion

A Unified Control Platform which fuses data from all connected sources and deploys Business Intelligence (BI) and monitoring tools is proven to revolutionize the way citizen-facing departments and municipal call centers operate.
By leveraging the data fusion capabilities of SMART-M with AI-driven data analytics, Municipalities uncover insights that lead to improved service delivery, reduced response times, and a more satisfying citizen experience.

Deploying BI and AI algorithms over unified data from all systems connected to the Unified Control Center allows Municipalities to constantly improve:

  • Real-Time Data Analysis: BI tools analyze data in real time, allowing departments to understand service demand, identify bottlenecks, and allocate resources more effectively. This leads to a significant reduction in response times to citizen inquiries and complaints.

  • Performance Metrics: Monitoring tools track key performance indicators (KPIs), such as call resolution times and citizen satisfaction scores. This data is crucial for continuous improvement and accountability within citizen-facing services.

  • Predictive Analytics: Advanced BI tools use predictive analytics to forecast future service demands, enabling proactive adjustments in staffing and resource allocation. This foresight can dramatically reduce citizen complaints by addressing issues before they escalate.

An illustrative example comes from one of our customers’ call center, which implemented a BI dashboard to monitor and analyze citizen reports and service requests along with status of various field-level tasks carried out by Municipal Field Workers.
The dashboard tracks everything from the volume of calls on different issues to the average resolution time.
Since its implementation, the city has seen a 30% improvement in service delivery times and a significant increase in citizen satisfaction ratings.

By integrating BI and monitoring tools into citizen-facing departments, cities can transform their service delivery models. These technologies not only improve operational efficiency but also foster a more responsive and citizen-centric approach to municipal governance.

As experts in Safe & Smart City solutions, MER Group leverages these technologies along with the SMART-M platform to help municipalities achieve their service quality goals, ultimately contributing to the development of smarter, more livable cities.

Smart Apps for Municipal Field Workers: Enhancing Efficiency and Responsiveness
Municipal field workers play a critical role in maintaining the urban services daily, from ensuring cleanliness to repairing infrastructure.

The advent of smart applications has revolutionized how these tasks are managed and executed, leading to unprecedented levels of efficiency and effectiveness in municipal services. By leveraging technology, cities can now dispatch workers more efficiently, plan routes intelligently, and facilitate seamless communication between field personnel, control centers and the citizens.

Some of the benefits of Smart Field Worker Apps include:

  • Efficient Dispatching: Modern smart apps utilize AI and machine learning algorithms to assign tasks to field workers based on proximity, expertise, and availability. This not only optimizes response times but also ensures that the right person is sent to address each specific issue.
    For example, some of our customers implemented a smart workflow management module within the SMART-M platform for its street maintenance teams, resulting in an average 28% improvement in response times to detections and public reports of urban nuisances such as potholes, street light outages.
  • Route Planning: GPS and advanced mapping technologies enable dynamic route planning, taking into account real-time traffic data, road closures, and the location of scheduled tasks. This ensures that field workers can navigate the city in the most efficient manner, saving time and fuel. The City of New York’s Department of Sanitation has adopted smart routing software for its garbage collection vehicles, significantly reducing miles driven and operational costs.
  • Two-way Communication: Smart apps offer robust communication features, including audio, video, and chat, which allow field workers to report back to the control center in real-time. This capability is crucial for adjusting to unforeseen challenges on the ground and requesting additional resources or guidance as needed. Additionally, it enhances the safety of field personnel by providing a direct line of support in emergency situations.

A notable example of Field Worker app impact for our customers is the simplicity for field workers to report issues, receive assignments, and update task statuses in real-time, while providing the Command and Control center with real-time task progress as well as provide citizens with updates regarding reported issues and the way they are being taken care of by the Municipality. This has streamlined workflow, improved the management of daily maintenance tasks, and significantly increased worker productivity.

As part of the Unified Control Center platform, the Field Workers app integrates with the city’s GIS (Geographic Information System), allowing workers to access detailed maps and information about the infrastructure needing repair.
The use of Field Worker apps for such daily maintenance tasks leads to more timely and efficient maintenance operations, reducing disruptions for citizens and improving overall satisfaction with city services.

Smart apps for municipal field workers represent a significant leap forward in how cities manage and execute municipal tasks. By leveraging AI, GIS, and real-time communication technologies, municipalities can enhance the efficiency, effectiveness of field operations and create a new layer of transparency towards the citizens and Municipal management. These advancements not only improve the quality of urban services but also contribute to the broader goals of creating more livable, sustainable, and smart cities.
As a global systems integrator, our company is committed to driving this transformation, offering innovative solutions that empower municipal workers and improve the lives of city dwellers worldwide.

In the fourth and final part of the Smart City series, we will outline how resilient networks based on fiber optics and wireless technologies play a key role in successful Smart City projects as well as provide cost savings and enhance real-time capabilities day-to-day and in emergency scenarios.