Team Spotlight - Smart Cities

Team Spotlight - Smart Cities

Curious about how ADI's Smart Cities team redefines urban living with innovative tech, sustainability, and customer-centric data solutions? Dive in!

5 min read

Brace yourself for an urban innovation odyssey with ADI's Smart Cities team, under COO Alvin Ng's expert guidance. This dynamic group, essential to ADI's success, is redefining cities through cutting-edge technology. Alvin's visionary approach guides impactful initiatives, excelling in data leverage, energy efficiency, and data science. Get ready to tune in to the exciting dialogue about how the team is shaping a future for cities that is not only smarter, sustainable, and digitally advanced, but also pioneering in its approach.

1. How do you define "Smart Cities" for those who are less familiar with it?

Alvin: a smart city is a city that leverages technology to drive better living and enablement of the citizens. The city enhances resilience, adaptability, and sustainability on behalf of the citizens through technology. If you think about it, data and technology create an environment where you make better decisions on asset and resource allocation and decision-making which drives the enhancement of citizens’ delights and living through the enhancement of resiliency, adaptability, and sustainability. 

That's kind of broad. I don't think anybody describes it that way except me because that's exactly what we are trying to do. How can we use data technology to allow the city as a whole to make better decisions and allocate resources more effectively, driving it toward a more resilient, adaptable, and sustainable future?

Alvin: the biggest trend I would say is that “smart” is no longer just purely defined by technology. It now encompasses people, processes, and technology, as the first point. “Smart” is defined by your ability as a city to learn quickly and faster. Therefore AI is becoming important. The capacity to harness and leverage data, unlocking its value, and learning from it now becoming more important.  Traditionally we associated 'smart' with technologies like smart traffic lights, sensors, IoT, and all that. However, defining a smart city now includes the ability to connect with citizens more intelligently through a generative AI chat box, for example.  So I would say the word “smart” has now gone beyond technology, with technology, people, processes, and AI playing pivotal roles in transformative processes, including generative AI.

3. What is ADI's involvement in the Smart Cities industry?

Alvin: we differentiate ourselves because ADI is really building a set of capabilities that put us at the forefront of helping cities harness data and unlocking the value. Therefore we have a significant impact on people, technology, and processes.

4. What are the key projects and initiatives your team is working on?

Alvin: in the transformation of cities, we approach it from various angles, with a particular focus on the public sector. A notable example is our ongoing work in Victorias City, where we assist in developing a playbook and roadmap for use cases, prioritization, and execution, aimed at making the city smarter. We've created a blueprint defining a smart city through the lenses of four key outcomes: smart, sustainable, safe, and a digital economy. How can we help them achieve these outcomes? What are the prioritized use cases to attain these goals? This is a significant area of focus for us.

We also support the public sector through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), employing descriptive analytics, diagnostic predictions, and prescriptions in the data value chain. Our goal is to assist them in using AI and data science for informed decision-making through business intelligence, offering comprehensive dashboards and various tools.

Another critical aspect of our work in smart cities is the transformation of Energy Efficiency, particularly through building management systems. We provide advisory and project management services to achieve actual energy savings of five to twelve percent for airports. This constitutes another segment of what we term “energy efficiency IoT advisory”.

The third area of focus in our smart cities initiatives is data science, approached from three angles: first, for customers in the city, we delve into customer intelligence, including segmentation and Go-To-Market strategy. Second, we consider collections and procurement intelligence, addressing fraud detection and collection insights. Lastly, we focus on product quality intelligence, offering functional perspectives.

In summary, our efforts in smart cities fall into three main buckets: public sector collaboration, energy efficiency, and data science, with a focus on customer intelligence, product quality, and collection and procurement intelligence.

5. Can you describe your team and how they collaborate in smart city projects? Does your team employ any innovative tools or approaches for efficient collaboration?

Alvin: we work as a team in every project and think about executing and bringing the value of ADI. We leverage data across the entire advisory and solution spectrum, using data analytics and science for actionable insights. Our strength lies in data science and advisory services within the value chain. We also partner with third-party solutions. The main objective for us is to provide a solution and if the solution becomes replicable, it becomes a product.

6. What’s the best thing about working with your team?

Alvin: there are two commonalities. All of us are customer-obsessed. It’s very clear that we are a curious team who want to constantly learn as a team and with our customers, also desire to help our customers solve their problems.

7. What challenges does your team usually face and how do you overcome them as a team?

Alvin: the biggest challenge that we face today is the segment of the market and smart cities that embrace everything outside of power and financial industries in ADI. Data science and AI are nice to have but it's not a must-have. Point number one, that’s a challenge. 

Challenge number two - digital and data maturity in this set of customers are very low. So the challenge of helping our customers is you have to start with education and enablement before you can actually sell a solution. Our main differentiator is no longer the power of our product or solution, as it may not be fully understood. Instead, our differentiator lies in our ability to accelerate learning, enablement, and empowerment, fostering an understanding of how to harness data for unlocking value.

This approach builds trust with customers and helps guide them through the process, differentiating us in a market where technology is becoming commoditized. While many companies offer advisory, data science, and similar services, not all have the willingness to journey with a customer who prioritizes education and enablement and is customer-obsessed.

8. You have been in the industry for more than two decades now. For anyone who wants to explore career opportunities in the Smart Cities industry, what advice would you give to them?

Alvin: the biggest thing to being a data scientist is - I call it the concept of curiosity. If you are curious and always ask questions, you can be a data scientist. Don't ever be the smartest in the room, instead be the fastest learner. The smartest in a room doesn’t win. The fastest learner does.

If you want to be part of this industry, you have to be curious. You have to ask a lot of questions and you have to have this passion for what I call continuous learning - learn, learn, and relearn.  The world of AI and data science is running so quickly and so fast. It's changing all the time. If you don't have the passion to learn, you're always behind. Therefore being in this industry, being a data and AI scientist, you have to constantly learn.

9. In 3 words or less, describe what kind of talent or skills are you looking for for the ADI Smart Cities team.

Alvin: curiosity, passion for learning, and customer-obsessed.

Wrapping up this insightful chat on the Smart Cities team - represented by Alvin Ng, we're grateful for their impactful contributions to transforming urban spaces. Keep an eye out for upcoming Team Spotlight blogs and exciting articles on our website. Follow us on social media and explore our podcast for an immersive experience of the AI and data science world. Your anticipation and support drive our pursuit of excellence. We can't wait to share more groundbreaking stories with you. Stay tuned!