NASA Is Set To Enhance Smart City Development With Its Expertise

How Geospatial Technologies of NASA Can Help in Development of Smart Cities?
NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the independent agency of the US Federal Government has been unfolding the facts of the earth and the universe since its inception in 1958. The world-renowned space agency has come a long way in the universal research and now it is working on one its biggest projects called ‘Parker Solar Probe‘, a robotic spacecraft that was launched in August 2018 with the aim to investigate the outer corona of the Sun. The spacecraft has already touched the outer corona of the Sun and successfully completed the first solar encounter phase by gathering an impressive amount of data.

Coming back to earth, NASA has now turned towards smart cities to extend its expertise in the field. It is providing its geospatial technologies to help cities become more accurate and efficient in its operations. Well, we will dive into the story after understanding the significance of geospatial technologies.

Geospatial Technologies Can Aid In Building Perfect Smart Cities

If smart cities want to accomplish its goals, the first thing they need is real-time, accurate and location-based data. This can help in building geography-based strategies and solutions in order to deliver smart city services effectively.

Geospatial technologies not just provide accurate geospatial data but also help in analysing and applying the enormous amounts of data in the best way. This, in the first place, is actually more important than having the data itself.

As per the Global Geospatial Industry Outlook 2017, the geospatial industry is worth $500 billion.

Taking its smart city applications into account, geospatial data can reinforce cities right from planning to the operation stage. In fact, geospatial data is also important for smart cities when it comes to leveraging data at different scales and accuracies – tool essential for successful management and maintenance. For example, to construct a new road, a geospatial technology can enable accurate topographic survey plans and models that lead to successful design and construction. The technology is applicable to the entire smart city infrastructure including transportation, buildings, energy, water, health, education, etc.

NASA – UN Collaboration

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda strongly focus on data, analytics, and geospatial and earth observation technologies. This has stimulated smart cities to pay more attention to achieving and monitoring results.

However, until recently, the developing nations have had limited capabilities for the development and application of geospatial technologies as compared to the developed ones. But this is now rapidly taking a new shape – positively.

Thanks to NASA’s geospatial technology called ‘World Wind’ that has the potential to assist the developing worlds in achieving the goals successfully. United Nations has already laid the path and the NASA’s World Wind is here to act as the vehicle.

World Wind is a web-based open source platform launched by NASA in 2003. It acts as a software development toolkit (SDK) that enables developers to easily and efficiently build their own applications using satellite, thematic and geospatial data for visualisation and investigation. In short, developers can quickly create visualisations of 3D globe, map and geographical information. World Wind is used by organisations across the world to observe weather patterns, visualise cities and territories, keep a record of vehicle movement, analyse geospatial data while spreading the words of knowledge.

Going further, Patrick Hogan, Project Manager of World Wind established the NASA World Wind Europa Challenge in 2013, in association with the Hungarian Association for Geo-information Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition, among others. This initiative promotes innovative ways of providing data management tools for cities. The Challenge comes forward as a yearly event with projects that deliver solutions for earthquakes, traffic monitoring bushfire management, and agricultural and environmental solutions.

Today, the broader availability of World Wind combined with the use of open earth observation data, open government policy, and open source apps makes the technology accessible even in the developing nations. The improved tools can help them in responding intelligently to challenges such as poverty, climate, change, education, health, disasters, and others.

Taking the SDGs into the picture, World Wind allows access to features that improve decision-making process considering the indicators and targets set in the UN 2030 agenda. After the data and measurements linked with SDG indicators are analysed and visualised, decision-makers can start developing resilient cities.

NASA In 2017

In 2017, NASA and its World Wind moved forwards with the aim to help smart cities of the future. In the same year, NASA and the European Space Agency launched ‘DelBianco CitySmart’ – the new series of tools built on World Wind to enhance operational efficiency and urban infrastructure management in smart cities. With the aid from the new technology, cities will be able to increase sustainability, efficiency, quality of life and awareness while fulfilling their urban management needs.

Be it smart cities in a developed world, or the developing, the tool is key to managing the urban infrastructure – successfully.

Uber Teamed Up With NASA To Explore Efficient Air Transportation Possibilities

NASA-Uber Technologies-Space Act AgreementNASA has confirmed a space act agreement with Uber Technologies to investigate technologies, and ideas and conduct necessary research linked with urban air mobility (UAM). The aim of the collaboration is to deploy safe efficient air transportation system in the populated regions – in future.

As per the agreement, NASA will employ the most advanced in airspace management computer modelling and simulation to evaluate the impact of a small aircraft. This will include all the types from delivery drones to passenger aircraft with upright take-off and landing capability in populated areas. On the other hand, Uber will share its plans and data regarding the rollout of urban aviation ride-share network.

This is the first time NASA has signed an agreement that completely concentrates on modelling and simulation for UAM operations.

Urban air mobility, in simple words, flying taxis and drones have the potential to completely transform the way people and goods are transported from one place to another. It could change the human lifestyle in smart cities.

Going forward, NASA is planning to use the data supplied by Uber at its research facility at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport. Using the data, it will model a small passenger aircraft while it flies through DFW airspace at scheduled peak traffic. Following the process, it will examine the simulations and recognise the safety issues. This will help NASA in finding out the behaviour of the aircraft when it flies in a crowded air traffic control system.

The simulations will be carried out by NASA to make sure that the aircraft travels through the market place with reasonable noise levels, and without exerting pressure on the prevailing national air traffic control system.

NASA is using its decades of subject matter expertise and the progressive aeronautics research in areas including unmanned aircraft system (UAS) traffic management at low altitude, all-electric general aviation class aircraft development, UAS integration in the National Airspace System, system-wide safety, vertical take-off and landing aircraft etc.

The collaboration between NASA and Uber will result in the generation of the data that is important for the creation of the UAM industry standards, Federal Aviation Administration rules and procedures and other related regulations.

The initiative taken by both NASA and Uber will further help the wider UAM community in the future.