Manali Tiwari

Could a Smart City with an ET City Brain Ever Rule the Entire World?

Life becomes very frustrating when your destination is 20 minutes far but it took you 1 hour to reach there because of traffic jams. Think about the time and amount of fuel getting wasted. According to Harvard Center researchers, in the United States, traffic congestion caused more than 2200 deaths because the patient failed to reach the nearest hospital on time, then there is a loss of economic cost when the drivers are stuck in traffic for 42 hours every year wasting more than 121 billion dollars on time and fuel. This is the data of only 1 country. Think of all the countries in the world, How much fuel and economy is wasted every year? Also, it causes air pollution which is bad for our health and climate. So to solve the real-time problems caused by traffic congestion, the government of Hangzhou city of china with the help of Alibaba Cloud (a cloud computing company) created a system called ET City Brain.
ET City Brain was first launched in Hangzhou city. The population of Hangzhou city is 9 million with the land area of 420 square kilometer which has 1300 intersections and 4500 cameras. These 4500 cameras are spread all over the city and were continuously recording live video streams. But what was the use of recording these video streams if it wasn’t used to solve traffic congestion? That’s when Alibaba cloud company thought of using these video streams to create a system that would help to prevent traffic congestion, detect accidents and allow rescue teams to reach their destinations on time. It helped the city in numerous ways such as reducing the average traveling time by 3 mins, reducing congestion rate at peak hour by 9.2% which saves time and make life easier.
What is ET City Brain?
ET city brain was first launched in October 2016 in Hangzhou city china and for the first time, it made a city to think. Various technologies were used to create this system such as cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence. Think of these technologies as the three fundamental peers and ET brain itself as a shipping vehicle of the technology. ET city brain is a very exceptional system that uses cloud computing because it provides the computing power, Big data which deals with the large volume of data getting recorded every day and finally A.I which provides the core algorithms for solving the complex problems in different verticals like ET industrial brain, ET environment brain, ET health care brain, ET agricultural brain.
How does ET city brain work?
Consider ET City Brain as eyes and brain of city. All the cameras and sensors across the city are the eyes which captures real-time videos from all over the city and these videos are then used by a system called “Apsara” which acts as a brain to solve real-time problems like traffic congestion, Incident detection such as accidents so that rescue team can reach the destination on time, Crime prevention, etc. It can calculate the traffic conditions of more than 80,000 intersections in the city in real-time and make decisions in milliseconds. Apsara system is developed by Alibaba cloud which is a Chinese cloud computing company.
The purpose of the ET city brain is to try to improve traffic problems with data and algorithms. The idea was to digitize the physical world by aggregating the data of all the city sensors, traffic lights, and video cameras in a centralized manner, removing data silos (Control of data is in the hand of one department and isolated from the rest) and by integrating all the control systems like Medical Resources, Police Resources, Hydropower Resources, Natural Resources, Administrative Resources, and Traffic police Resources with it. This way all the control systems can use this data for the benefit of the city. Implementation of ET city brain in Hangzhou has increased traveling speed of people by 15% and arrival time of ambulances and fire fighting rescue teams is reduced to half which allows them to reach the destination approximately 7 minutes earlier.
How does it help in real-time scenarios?
Efficient utilization of bus/cab services — Et city brain access the video feed across the city, the owners of bus/cab services can draw the data from Mapping app or telecom carriers and utilize it to find the passenger density. More the passenger density More is the need for cabs or buses in that area. It proves to be very efficient at the time of festivals or events.
Helps in incident detection — ET city brain works in real-time, analyzing video footage data and integrating it with alarm data to detect accidents and traffic congestion and send an alert to the respective departments such as Police, Fire, Medical and Rescue.
Smart automation for handling traffic jams — City cameras and sensors allows the city administrators to monitor the traffic and identify the causes of traffic congestion so that they can take corrective measures to resolve this problem. Also, On detecting an ambulance or fire fighting vehicle the traffic lights of the route changes accordingly allowing them to reach their destination without wasting time on traffic.
Helps in Crime prevention — It helps law enforcement officials to analyze the video and track down the suspects by clubbing his information of past criminal data and his face description with his vehicle data.
Ensure Natural Resources Management — ET city brain helps in the agriculture sector. It captures the nutrient and water content of the agriculture field using sensors, This then leads to the detection of irrigation requirement which results in conservation of water bodies.
Apart from Hangzhou, ET city brain has also been launched in Kuala Lumpur, Chongqing, Suzhou and more cities are on the way. As of today, it is more focused on traffic and transportation sector but in the future, it will be expanded to other verticals like airports, subways, railways, and even travel agencies. It is not only a product, it’s a solution and also an open platform which is looking forward to innovation with industry partners.

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