The cloud is not a new technology concept. However, it can be confusing as to what it means, because it can mean several things from a technology-strategy perspective. In their HxGN LIVE 2017 keynote address, Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure’s chief technology officer, Kalyn Sims, and senior vice president of Global Product Development, Dan Retzer, provided insight into what the cloud means to the future of Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure products and its customers.
Before they defined what the cloud means to Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure as a development platform, Sims and Retzer discussed several trends influencing the company’s technology direction.
First on their list was the increase of people migrating to urban areas. Sims and Retzer echoed a theme discussed in Steven’s Cost keynote: rapid population growth is changing the economic, social, and political setups of cities or regions. Presently, governments can’t respond to this growth fast enough, leaving them to struggle with developing and maintaining services for their citizens. And this results in greater problems, such as inadequate infrastructure and increased crime rates.
For the second trend, Sims and Retzer talked about the explosion of consumer technology culminating in an exponential proliferation of sensors (e.g., smartphones, tablets, stationary sensors, and mobile sensors) feeding data to the Internet. For Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure to keep up with this trend, Kalyn Sims stated, “Our systems must be able to integrate with this wide variety of devices and applications in near-real-time. And, adding another level of complexity and sophistication, we must be able to separate the noise from the intelligence for our end-users.”
Addressing these trends is an important part of Hexagon’s Safe City strategy, a complete departure from disconnected, stove-piped systems to an all-encompassing enterprise information architecture. At the heart of this architecture are cloud computing and web services. With this in mind, Hexagon aims to help municipalities integrate operational systems, enable multi-agency collaboration, improve situational awareness, leverage big data, and automate processes. From here, Dan Retzer laid out a Safe City framework.
The Safe City framework is a cyclical workflow of phases that Hexagon’s technology solutions address, including preparation, detection, assessment, reaction, and analysis. Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure is building an industry-agnostic platform that supports Safe City initiatives and cross-industry collaboration for public safety and security agencies, transportation authorities, utility providers, communications companies, and others.
Retzer pointed to a Hexagon product roadmap for dispatch, records management, data analytics, security, major events, utilities network engineering, and mobile applications, which will converge in the cloud as a core platform for safe cities. For Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure, taking its solutions to the cloud improves overall integration and scalability of applications while reducing costs and security problems for its customers.
To support this effort, Sims and Retzer announced that Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure will build its new software-as-a-service (SaaS) products for public safety and security on Microsoft Azure – an open, flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing platform. These products will take advantage of Azure’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS) to expedite development and deliver better capabilities than applications built from generic code and hosted in the cloud.
Sims and Retzer also discussed key initiatives that have already started converging in the cloud, such as the Public Safety & Security Command & Control Center concept. They also talked about many of the innovative ideas coming out of Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure global hackathon competitions.
During the Convergence in the Cloud keynote, Sims and Retzer brought the vision of Safe Cities and future of Hexagon Safety & Infrastructures technologies into laser focus. To get a better idea of how to make Safe Cities a reality, I highly recommend watching Convergence in the Cloud today on HxGN TV.