From smart cities to smart country

Issue 8 2021 Government and Parastatal (Industry)

While many incident management solutions have struggled to properly manage city precincts and metros, Solution House has succeeded in not just enabling smart precincts but in combining these precincts into smart cities and the smart cities into a ‘smart country’ model.

So says Tiaan Janse van Rensburg, commercial director at the company behind My Incident Desk, an integrated service request, routing and management platform adopted by many of South Africa’s leading cities.

Today, your city; tomorrow, your country

Janse van Rensburg says while there is still a long way to go, the route to a smart country starts with well-managed, smart precincts, interconnected into a country-wide success story. “Over the last few years, Solution House has enabled many city precincts to move from merely managing their areas to joining an integrated, smart city-enabled, real-time environment. This revolution in city management has been made possible by My Incident Desk, a distributed and decentralised smart city solution and the ongoing addition of innovative new tools including smartphone apps, facial recognition and real-time service despatching.

“Next, we will actively help move forward-looking urban areas from urban precincts to a smart city setup and become part of the smart country paradigm,” Janse van Rensburg says.

How will this be achieved?

He says this will be accomplished on the back of four principles supported by My Incident Desk:

• An advanced software management platform for smart urban precincts, enabling each precinct to manage itself.

• Provide advanced technology such as facial recognition, mobile worker management and tracking, despatch management and asset management to precincts at an affordable monthly price point.

• The ability for each precinct to decide what information they want to share with their neighbouring precincts.

• Roll-up of these precincts into real-time smart cities and the cities into a smart country model.

Janse van Rensburg explains that My Incident Desk is underpinned by a network of national, regional and local service providers, security firms and urban managers. “It ties an unlimited number of client sites, buildings and facilities across multiple cities into a community of public and private entities and service providers, offering live access to services and incident management data from each area, precinct and city in one real-time national view.”

Clients use Incident Desk to allocate, route, track and resolve on-site incidents and service requests, backed by a powerful geospatial engine that shows exactly where and when an incident occurs in real-time. It offers a menu of over 2000 services to choose from, depending on whether a service provider or urban management team offers the service in a specific area or precinct. If so, they can choose to manage it via Incident Desk.

Service types include official services such as safety and security, traffic services, emergency services, by-law enforcement, municipal services, urban management and social services. Private properties are also incorporated into the solution through building services like facilities management, maintenance and physical asset management and corporate services like staff management.

How it works to your benefit

My Incident Desk can manage all service and asset types and configurations – from a single office or shop in a building to a large city (or country) – on a single platform. It includes all the advanced functionality and tools needed to manage modern cities. The system is offered as a shared service, continually improved by many clients hosted on the same platform. This has many benefits over standalone solutions.

“If a client has an idea for a new addition or improvement, it is shared or inherited by the other clients on the platform. As a result, it is always improving and everyone has access to the same up-to-date, advanced functionality,” says Janse van Rensburg. “The system is unlimited in the scale of service requests it can handle. As a result, it has seen phenomenal growth in the last few years.”

Since inception, about 1,5 million incidents have been logged and managed on My Incident Desk. Over 20 000 incidents are being managed on it by multiple service providers at any one time and it has between 3000 to 4000 service provider users in South Africa.

Solution House has already signed a host of clients including more than 30 leading urban areas and city centres such as Cape Town, Century City, Johannesburg, Durban and Umhlanga. More are expected in short order.

Janse van Rensburg says modern cities find resonance with My Incident Desk as they are faced with increased service management load and complexity under increasing financial pressure. “With escalating demand for their services, overloaded infrastructure and financial pressure depleting their cash and skills resources, improved efficiencies are of the essence. At the same time, their borders may be geographical, but their service management ecosystem is not and hence very complex with numerous service providers involved in and adjacent to their areas.

“Put simply, this translates into a requirement for real-time visibility of services, as well as real-time information sharing and end-to-end incident management capabilities.”

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