In how many ways will smart infrastructure and the Internet of Things change the future of cities?

Here is the second podcast in the Capgemini “Leaders in Innovation” Series, featuring guests in the Capgemini portfolio of products. In this conversation, Capgemini VP of Product Management Masood Amin talks with Intel Global GM for New IOT Markets Sameer Sharma. Their main topic of discussion is Intel’s innovative roadside technology, an AI-integrated infrastructure enhancement designed to make cities safer and more efficient.

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On Intel’s OpenVINO Technology

One of the Intel technologies at the heart of the smart technology roadside platform is called OpenVINO. Open, because it’s open access. And VINO, because of the fermented grape connoisseurs on the staff of the product team.

Sameer says, “We had an internal competition on what to name this tool. And there are clearly some wine lovers in our team. … But really OpenVINO stands for open visual inferencing and neural network optimization. And the simple way of describing this is a software layer and SDK and a set of tools that helps you infuse edge AI inferencing capabilities into any device at the edge. It could be a camera, a traffic intersection, a parking sensor with a video feed coming in. 

“And the simple idea is that all the favorite neural networks that you have that you require for AI processing at the edge will be available to you. If you’re a software developer, you program it once. And you’re able to then use that same software as the underlying hardware capabilities change. 

“Those are some of the problem statements that OpenVINO was designed to address. I’m happy to share that it’s been one of the fastest adopted software offerings from Intel. And the developer ecosystem has just embraced it. As the name suggests, it’s an open ecosystem. We’re very happy to see Capgemini embracing it and working with us to put it on the platform so that the exciting new use cases of the future. Whether it’s around safety, mobility, or over time in new verticals like industrial and manufacturing, can also be addressed.”

On the opportunities presented by smart infrastructure

In the next part of the conversation, Sameer explained the way Intel designs its technology to integrate with physical systems. And in addition to the business opportunity, safer cities are also a goal.

He says, “We’re looking to convert the infrastructure of tomorrow to be smart infrastructure. What I mean by smart infrastructure is as you go and build out these future things, it is not just about cement and steel. It is also very critical to think about the bits and the bytes and the transistors. In other words, the digital overlay on top of this physical infrastructure that we have to go build. And that is creating a multi billion dollar opportunity for the ecosystem. 

“There is certainly an economic incentive in deploying all these solutions. But for me personally, what is even more satisfying, in some way, is the fact that all these solutions are going to make our cities operate more efficiently. And safer. 

“One of the sadder data points I can share with you is the National Highway Safety Administration in the US just released the 2021 statistics. And the number of … deaths on the road … were the highest in the past 16 years. … This has to be fixed. 

“I think examples like that will accelerate both the incentive and initiative within the government and the public private partnerships to scale the deployment of smart infrastructure.”

On the future of cities and smart infrastructure

Another key point involves exciting real-world examples of how smart technology can change the future of cities. He says it will be as revolutionary as the smartphone.

“So think of it as us putting a programmable, apps-capable smartphone on every traffic intersection. Even between those intersections on the side of the road, at a periodic distance. And offering a platform with clearly specified API’s. For the collective creative power of our app developer ecosystem to unleash whatever capabilities might be built on it…

“Transitions will start happening with new business models. Can this data be used for real time insurance settlement? Absolutely. Can it be used to inform first responders to get the appropriate level of care? Yes. 

“Today, if you make a 911 call and ask for help, by default, you will see at least one or two fire engines, one or two ambulances, and a couple of cop cars all show up. They have to assume the worst because they don’t have that information.

“Now imagine roadside unit infrastructure capturing a 360 view of what has actually happened to say, look, it is a 911 call, but it’s a relatively minor fender bender. You can fine tune the amount of first responder help you’re providing. And the idea is that this frees up capability for those first responders to then go help somebody who’s in real actual need. Where there might be an injury, or a threat to someone’s life.”

Besides that, Sameer envisions this technology enabling “everything from prepaid parking at a particular spot. From if you go out for dinner at the city, to making sure that the traffic information is helping you. Not just through your GPS, but at the aggregate city level to help the traffic flow better.”

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