Tel-Aviv Municipality CIO: COVID-19 Crisis has Reflected Urgent Need to Accelerate Smart...

Tel-Aviv Municipality CIO: COVID-19 Crisis has Reflected Urgent Need to Accelerate Smart City Technologies – More Proactive Government Policy is Also Required

smart city

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The technologies are already here, substantial breakthroughs can be achieved in Israel’s smart city technologies, said Liora Shechter, CIO, Tel-Aviv Municipality.

The transformation of cities into connected digital hubs has been evident for several years in Israel and globally, with the application of a wide variety of advanced smart city technologies. The change has been demonstrated in all the municipal aspects, from public security through infrastructure and traffic control, employment, sanitation, environment, etc.

Sensor and camera technologies, big data, AI, advanced computing, video analytics, command and control, unmanned systems, IoT, and more – all these have been recruited for the benefit of the smart city.

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In a special interview to iHLS, Liora Shechter, CIO, Tel-Aviv Municipality, portrays the international city of Tel-Aviv as a smart city, reflecting the availability of technology and the growing demand for innovation, vis a vis the encumbrance of government processes.

Tel-Aviv’s smart city systems are based on the technologies of the world’s leading companies. The software infrastructures are based on Microsoft, a large part of the security operations are based on Checkpoint’s technologies, Cisco supplies the communications technologies, etc.

Public security is one of the city’s major aspects. Harnessing smart city methods for the protection of the public includes cameras, sensors, panic buttons connected to the municipal security control center. Incident identification is currently based on basic camera analytics. “Alongside the smart analytics and automatic identification – privacy is preserved,” Shechter stresses.

Do you employ unmanned vehicles in security and city management missions? Liora Shechter said that this field is still at its first stages. Tests are being carried out at the Atidim smart city testing installation, to evaluate the use of drones for security, delivery, etc, basing on docking stations and other technologies. The startup ParaZero that collaborates in this project specializes in solutions for drone security. 

However, Shechter emphasizes that “the major challenge is not technology but rather the regulation and protocol definition, that would enable flights beyond line of sight.”

Was the COVID-19 pandemic a unique opportunity to accelerate smart city processes? As Liora Shechter evaluates, the prolonged crisis had consequences mainly on urban management and control methods, and the need to get immediate situational awareness regarding the pandemic through new dashboards reporting to the municipal organizations as well as to the public. Today, dashboards demonstrate purple tagged businesses, the number of authenticated COVID-19 patients, the scattering of home quarantined cases, number of calls to the 106 call center regarding the pandemic, etc.

The connection between the municipality and the residents is one of the most important aspects. The vision calls for the provision of a customized, proactive and valuable service to every resident. The DigiTel residents club established five years ago upon these principles already includes more than 230,000 residents, and currently the Digitel application is being introduced.

The customization is based on fields of interest, age groups, sub-communities e.g. parents to young children, dog owners, etc. Additional applications include the 106 reporting center, Tel-Aviv beaches application, and more.

Regarding the management of the city, a pilot project of learning analytics is currently underway in attempt to identify operational incidents (garbage concentrations, route hazard, etc.). The city strives to leverage smart solutions emanating from the startup ecosystem.

To sum up, Shechter said, “many smart city solutions are already operative – proactive, customized resident services, municipal management based on analytics and real-time information enabling rapid response, etc. However, major aspects such as smart mobility, micro mobility, etc. are constrained by the activity of the relevant government ministries, and as long as there is not enough support and genuine involvement on behalf of the government, it would be hard to advance on the municipal level.”

Attend i-HLS’ InnoTech Expo in Tel Aviv – Israel’s largest innovation, HLS, and cyber technologies expo – on November 18-19, 2020 at Expo Tel Aviv, Pavilion 2.

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