“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” is the slogan that emphasizes the desert resort’s prominence as America’s party city, a place where anything goes. But Las Vegas is about more than just entertainment, because its reputation as a U.S. tech hub is growing fast. It has hosted the huge annual Consumer Electronics Show for more than 40 years, the world’s biggest tech companies are opening major facilities there, and the city’s Innovation District is exploring new developments that range from autonomous vehicles to energy-storing sidewalks.
Sophisticated software already tracks and predicts activity in Las Vegas casinos, from occupancy levels and game preferences to credit-card spending, but now it’s being used to accelerate urban development there as part of a major new project, the Smart City & Parks solution, in collaboration with global technology and business solution provider NTT. It has been recognized in the 2019 Smart 50 Awards and is one of a number of projects that show how data and analytics can improve public safety and boost sustainability and functionality.
The Las Vegas Smart City & Parks project uses Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, high-definition video cameras and sound sensors to monitor a public area in the Innovation District. The data collected is combined with historical sources, such as weather patterns, crime information and even social media activity, which are then analyzed by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, enabling city officials and emergency services workers to make better decisions.
Given the large volumes of data being collected, NTT helped design an infrastructure that uses edge computing, a process that puts data storage and computational power closer to where it is needed, rather than in a data center elsewhere. As a result, analysis of traffic data, for example, can be carried out quickly and efficiently at the roadside, rather than by sending the data back-and-forth across the network.
The system can quickly determine whether an emergency is unfolding—such as a terrorist attack or social unrest—and track more typical situations, from traffic congestion to drivers traveling the wrong way on the city’s one-way streets. As it gains more data, the system can predict when such situations are likely to occur, allowing city planners and the emergency services to be better prepared. [...]
“We are moving beyond the innovation zone in Las Vegas to additional city locations,” says Bill Baver, NTT Smart World GTM Lead, Vice President at NTT DATA Services. “We have extended our Smart Platform capabilities to support manufacturing operations, entertainment venues and campus environments. We expect to further move into healthcare, retail and other new areas in 2020 and beyond.”
Mr. Baver adds that NTT is expanding its Smart City & Parks projects across the U.S. and Asia, and looking at emerging opportunities in EMEA. In Sapporo, Japan, where snowfall can cause disruption for six months of the year—throwing daily routines into chaos and even putting lives at risk—NTT has partnered with the city and local businesses to help things run more smoothly and reduce the high cost of snow-clearing.
Snow-removal workers are empowered by expert advice from veterans—delivered to them via wristbands—voice navigation that guides them to problem areas [...]
Mr. Baver adds that NTT is expanding its Smart City & Parks projects across the U.S. and Asia and looking at emerging opportunities in EMEA. In Sapporo, Japan, where snowfall can cause disruption for six months of the year—throwing daily routines into chaos and even putting lives at risk—NTT has partnered with the city and local businesses to help things run more smoothly and reduce the high cost of snow- clearing.
Snow-removal workers are empowered by expert advice from veterans—delivered to them via wristbands—voice navigation that guides them to problem areas more quickly, and tracking of health signals, such as their heart rate, to ensure they stay safe. City dwellers, meanwhile, get live information about road closures and when blocked routes will be clear. In addition, autonomous vehicle trials are being run to help reduce traffic congestion in key areas.
All of these Japan initiatives, similar to the one in Las Vegas, combine private and public data with cutting-edge analytics tools to deliver insights that improve everyday life. NTT is also rolling them out to Fukuoka and Yokohama, and addressing other aspects of everyday life that could run more smoothly, from healthcare and parenting to welfare and education.
“The biggest challenge we are finding is around the procurement process for government sector clients,” says Mr. Baver. The public sector is not typically set up to bring in technological solutions on an experimental basis and then expand those that are successful, he adds. This is one area where working with an experienced partner such as NTT can be helpful.
These projects are just the beginning of a process that connects businesses and state agencies to generate smart improvements that benefit city dwellers and workers every day. Future developments will tackle environmental problems through the deployment of smart energy, which is managed by AI systems to ensure that it is provided when and where it is needed, with minimal waste; address food shortages with more efficient production methods and reduced waste; and transform businesses into more service- orientated operations. As projects like these demonstrate their success, the effects are likely to be widespread. In April 2019, Michael Lee Sherwood, Director of Technology and Innovation, City of Las Vegas, said of their work with NTT on Smart and Connected Cities: “If we can show stories about how we’ve lowered crime or how we’ve prevented accidents, that’s information that can be shared not just regionally, but worldwide.” When it comes to smart city transformation, what happens in Vegas won’t just stay in Vegas.
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