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Cloud Computing: Transforming Cities

November 15, 2013 No Comments

Cloud computing isn’t just for large businesses looking to cut costs and gain a greater understanding of the data flowing through the enterprise. More cities and municipalities are turning to the technology to solve problems both big and small.

And cloud technology’s impact is expanding beyond the consumer world. It’s transforming civic life. Whether by making basic services, such as water systems to how city permits are offered, run more smoothly or helping cities react in real time, according to an article on WashingtonPost.com.

The cloud is indeed helping cities run more efficiently. In Toronto, Waterfront Toronto, a major redevelopment project, turned to cloud computing to create a command center to pull together information from many different agencies about everything from the water system to weather forecasts to prepare for, manage, and even anticipate problems in the community, whether broken pipes or big snows, before they happen.

The rise of the cloud comes at a good time for budget-conscious cities and municipalities. Rather than pouring their own resources into new data centers, communities can turn to pay-as-you-go cloud services as an efficient, effective way of consolidating data and programs from different government agencies.

But the cloud’s appeal goes far beyond simple cost savings. By compiling into one system all the key data and applications that are now siloed away, cities create a foundation for rolling out new services for citizens and employees, gathering and sharing urgent, useful information, and layering on new technologies, such as sensors, analytics, and mobile apps, which can help make their communities safer and more livable.

Practically, that gives government departments and agencies the data necessary to get citizens the services they need. It helps city officials anticipate problems before they happen — and react with a better, coordinated response.

For instance, imagine that a storm is expected to hit a city. By pulling together water system, weather, and traffic data, the city can proactively plan how to deal with issues before they occur: by closing roads likely to flood and redirecting traffic, adjusting the operation of the water infrastructure to better manage flooding sewage overruns, and even coordinating emergency response between the fire departments, police, and local hospitals in areas likely to be most affected.

The cloud is also helping empower citizens, getting them involved in making cities better places to live. By streamlining its tech operations onto the cloud, Honolulu was able to quickly dish up a string of new smartphone apps for city residents, including one that lets folks report urban problems, such as broken traffic lights, and another that allows commuters to check traffic cameras to pinpoint exactly when their bus will arrive.

The rise of the cloud comes at a good time for budget-conscious cities and municipalities. Rather than pouring their own resources into new data centers, communities can turn to pay-as-you-go cloud services as an efficient, effective way of consolidating data and programs from different government agencies.

But the cloud’s appeal goes far beyond simple cost savings. By compiling into one system all the key data and applications that are now siloed away, cities create a foundation for rolling out new services for citizens and employees, gathering and sharing urgent, useful information, and layering on new technologies, such as sensors, analytics, and mobile apps, which can help make their communities safer and more livable.

Patrick1 Cloud Computing: Transforming Cities

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting

CLOUD COMPUTING, Fresh Ink

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