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Cities around the globe are adopting smart technologies. New York City, for example, deployed Link NYC kiosks, which offer Wi-Fi services and advertisements to residents. Services such as these aren’t just boosting Wi-Fi, they are also delivering improved quality of life.

Mike Gamaroff, senior vice president of strategy, SITO Mobile, Sheldon Silverman, CEO, Smartbomb Media Group and David Pal, CEO of Ads on Top addressed how smart cities are revolutionizing city living during a panel at the Digital Signage Expo.

Pal said the first concern for any smart city application is that, “it needs to answer a question.” For example, if a city is trying to discover how residents move throughout the city, it should use sensors. Or if residents are unsure about city services, displays need to provide additional information.

“The core reason for developing smart city solutions is quality of life,” Gamaroff said. He pointed out how more people from rural populations in places like China are moving to the cities than ever before. To accommodate these growing populations, smart cities need to develop solutions to handle traffic and deliver services.

Silverman said cities can use sensors to see in real time how residents move throughout the city. Using this information, they can then determine if they need better transportation solutions, such as trains. Or cities could develop schedules for delivery trucks to cut down on traffic.

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On the customer end, smart cities can also offer key information to residents at critical times of the day. With digital signage, these cities can deliver this information easily and they can also measure the real time effects of the data.

Gamaroff pointed out that if a city was opening a new park, it could advertise the opening with digital signage. It could then measure the total number of residents visiting the park to see how effective the digital signage really was.

Many consumers and governments, however, are concerned about customer data and privacy, especially with recent fiascos with Facebook’s privacy policy. The panelists said that vendors need to spend a lot of time explaining this issue with governments.

Sheldon points out that governments might be concerned about collecting location-based data on residents. However, with this data, “You never need to know the name. You are forming a picture of someone who, for example, goes to a gym or QSR, then deliver ads based on that data.”

“We spend a lot of time with regulators that help them understand the data we do collect; the wireless, sensors (and) cameras is all aggregate data. We do not personalize that data,” Gamaroff said.

Smart cities, when used properly, can improve lives through more efficient services, just like in retail and restaurants.

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