A Smart Way To Monitor Environmental Threats In Urban Areas Through State-Of-The-Art Sensing Technologies



As the world is moving forward and becoming more advanced in lifestyle and technology, the Earth continues to deteriorate due to various factors that are causing threats to the overall environment and impacting on human lives in general. Earth Day 2018 highlighted the most pressing environmental concerns such as Ocean and Plastics, Rising Seas, Extreme Weather, Famine, Water Supply and many more. Out of the numerous environmental issues, there are four which have a direct impact on our residential environment, namely Climate Change, Air /Water Pollution, Floods and Landslides.

Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas due to jobs availability and wealth, and it is projected that urban population will increase to 70% by 2050. Influx of population into the urban area exacerbates the availability and quality of air and water, creates waste-disposal problems, and causes high energy consumption.

The environment is another important factor in determining the quality of life and health of urban dwellers. A good quality urban environment will surely make it more attractive and healthier for people to live, work and prosper. On the other hand, the degradation of the environment through air pollution, poor road traffic, floods and climate change, may have negative impacts on the human health and their well being.

This article will go into detail on each of the four environmental threats for better understanding and suggest a way on how smart technology can be utilized to better monitor these threats for the benefit of the larger community.


Climate Change Is On The Upward Trend


Based on the report “Global Risks 2018: Fractures, Fears and Failures” by the World Economic Forum, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) had risen for the first time in four years, bringing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to 403 parts per million, compared with a pre-industrial baseline of 280 parts per million. The increase in the world’s CO2 concentrations in the future is almost certain, thus this issue has been gaining attention as one of the major environmental threats. Having absorbed 93% of the increase in global temperatures between 1971 and 2010, the world’s oceans continue to get warmer and studies suggest that their capacity to absorb CO2 may be declining. Research also suggests that tropical forests are now releasing rather than absorbing the carbon dioxide.

This claim is backed up by NASA, which has also confirmed that the amount of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased "from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years", due to burning fossil fuels, intensive agriculture, and other human activities. This has resulted in an increase of global temperatures by one degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels. Besides the increased in extreme weathers, according to NASA, this rise in temperature also has raised the sea levels by 1-4 feet since 2010 thus causing Arctic ice caps to shrink, and increased growing season.

Global warming is the increase of Earth’s average surface temperature due to the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation, which subsequently trap heat that would otherwise escape from the Earth. The following graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The year 2016 marks as the warmest on record and the year 2017 is ranked as the second warmest since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA (NOAA Global Climate Report, 2018).

Global average surface temperature data from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (2017)


Heat waves and warming temperatures pose a serious threat for human settlements worldwide, especially in urban environments.

This is because modern cities are densely packed with buildings, and they lack green space and vegetation, which in turn limits shading and evapotranspiration. Research shows that the increase in temperature or heat burden may cause heat-related illness such as heat stroke, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. For every 1 °F (0.6 °C) increase in heat wave intensity, there is a 2.49% increase in the risk of death. Furthermore, every one-day increase in heat wave duration results in a 0.38% increase in mortality risk (Anderson & Bell, 2011).


Air And Water Pollution Threat Is Worse In Urban Areas


Both short and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution can lead to reduced lung functions, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. According to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is the cause of over 34% of deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, and 27% of deaths from ischaemic heart disease. The combined effects of ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution cause about 6.5 million premature deaths every year.  Air quality is particularly bad in cities, and this situation is going to get worse as more people move into cities.

Today, an estimated 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO safety limits.

Pollutants with the strongest evidence for public health concerns are particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The health risks associated with particulate matter of less than 10 and 2.5 microns in diameter (PM10 and PM2.5) is especially well documented. PM is capable of penetrating deep into lung passageways and entering the bloodstream causing cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and respiratory impacts. In 2013, PM was classified as a cause of lung cancer by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It is also the most widely used indicator to assess the health effects from exposure to ambient air pollution (WHO, 2016).


World Air Pollution Map by WHO (2016)


Urban populations are also exposed to water quality problems. The non-point source pollution picks up pollutants such as excess nutrients from fertilized lawns, heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons from our cars, and fecal coliform bacteria from our pets and septic systems which can cause serious health risks.  The immediate concerns center on bacterias and viruses which can affect health level resulting in diarrhea, fever, severe cramping and vomiting. Long-term effects of polluted water result in an overall decline in ecosystem function, which results in the continued decline in terms of water quality, aquatic habitat as well as increased health risks. 


Floods Risk Is Real For Urbanites


As this article is being written, Western Japan is being hit by 3 times its normal annual torrential rainfall. The floods have caused more than 100 dead and 58 missing in Okayama Japan. Floods are indeed one of the greatest environmental threats that can affect millions of people, around the world. A flash flood, which can develop in less than a few hours, is primarily caused by heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. Extensive rainfall over a long period of time will also lead to flooding of geomorphic low-lying areas.

Floods often cause damage to homes and properties, potential loss of lives, and deterioration of health conditions owing to waterborne diseases.

Today, weather forecast mostly relies on weather satellites that collect observations globally. While weather forecasts are getting better with more advanced prediction algorithms, we need higher spatial resolution rainfall data in order to measure exactly the amount of precipitation in a specific area. This is because the rainfall and soil characteristics could be very different from place to place. By observing a long-term temporal dataset, it is possible to develop a nationwide framework for flood forecasting (Chang, et. al., 2014; Selvanathan et. al., 2018).


Flooded Residential Areas near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey (2017) 
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]


For urban dwellers, the risk of having Pluvial (Surface Water) Flooding where flooding occurs when an extremely heavy downpour of rain saturates drainage systems and the excess water cannot be absorbed, is high. Based on “Pluvial (rain-related) Flooding in Urban Areas: the Invisible Hazard”, pluvial floods have recently been identified as the type most likely to increase in severity as a result of climate change. They are also the most difficult to manage because they are difficult to predict and it is challenging to provide adequate warning times to the affected population.

As Urban Development Continues, The Risk Of Landslides Increase

Every year, over one million people are exposed to landslide hazards around the world.

Due to the recent climate change, it is likely that the decrease of permafrost areas; changes in precipitation patterns and increase of extreme weather events will influence the weather-related mass movement activities. Moreover, the spread of urban settlements and transportation networks into landslide prone hilly areas is increasing the potential occurrence of landslides, land subsidence and slope failures.


Landslide hits the residential areas in Nova Friburgo, 130 km north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2011)


In order to develop an effective early warning system for landslides, it is important
to perform a comprehensive assessment about the mechanisms of the landslide, including continuous monitoring of the slope stability, surface runoff, intra ground movement, underground water, and rainfall. The monitoring system may consist of a variety of sensors such as in-place inclinometer, multiple strain gauge, piezometer, tiltmeter, rain gauge, infrared camera, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), LIDAR system and Ground Based Synthetic Aperture Radar (GBSAR) (Koo et. al., 2015, Zhao et. al., 2018).


Tapping On Smart Technology In Mitigating Environmental Threats In Residential Areas.

For residential communities, it is important to understand the quality of our residential environment in order to protect our families, assets and our entire community. The responsibility shouldn’t be placed on the shoulders of the authorities; as a member of a community, we have a part to play in monitoring the environment that we are living in to enable us to mitigate the risks as they come.

Having sufficient knowledge about our environment gives the community the power it needs to forward any issues to the authorities for remedial actions.

On 11st December 1993, Block One of the Highland Towers in the state of Selangor Malaysia collapsed, killing the life of 48 individuals and causing two other residential blocks to be evacuated for safety reasons. The cause of the catastrophe was a major landslide in Taman Hillview, Ulu Klang Selangor. Nobody expected the tragedy to happen, as everybody was minding their own business as usual on that day, even though the area had been receiving heavy rainfall for 10 continuous days.

That fated condominium was just erected for almost 2 years when the accident happened. Bukit Antarabangsa Development Project commenced the construction of the Highland Towers in 1991, and the construction had exposed the area’s soil to land erosion, the leading factor of the landslides. The water flow had not been managed properly and it had caused pipes burst at several locations on the hill, leading the surrounding soil to absorb the excessive water, and turning the soil into mud. By the end of November 1993, the hill slope had been saturated with water, and the water was even seen flowing down the hill slopes as well as the constructed retaining walls. Highland Tower tragedy was not the first case of landslides that have caused deaths and endangered human lives in residential areas, and it certainly would not be the last if the community who lives near hill slopes do not do anything about it, or leave the matter in the hands of the authority entirely.

From 1993-2011, around 28 major landslides were reported in Malaysia with a total loss of more than 100 lives. Moreover, from 1973-2007, the total economic loss due to landslides in Malaysia was estimated about US $1 billion.



The Block One of the Highland Towers Collapsed due to Massive Landslides


Apart from landslides, floods is another environmental threat that could endanger the lives and properties of residential communities. Floods tie to climate change as  the warmer the Earth gets, the more water it absorbs, which could result in heavier rains. For example, in Bandar Baru Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia, an area consisting of 10,000 housing units, has been the scene of floods for the last two to three years. The failure of the retention ponds in two areas had led to the floods in these residential areas. Floods in Pulau Pinang also had caused a deadly landslide in  Tanjung Bungah that claimed the lives of 11 workers. Therefore, residential areas particularly at the hilltop or hillside need to find a way to monitor these threats in order to stay safe.

The first step for the community to do is to know the area that needs to be monitored through a set of environmental indicators.

Environmental indicators are simple measures in the form of numerical values that track the state of the environment over a period of time. Environmental indicators can be measured and reported at different scales. For example, a city may track the air quality along with the water quality and count the number of rare species of birds to estimate the health of the environment within their area. In another scenario, people living in hilly residential areas may track the variations in rainfall patterns and its impact on the slope stability and soil erosion.

A community can kickstart the monitoring of an environment with a set of environmental sensors installed at the appropriate site location for continuous data collection.

Environmental Services which a community can consider include:

1.   Air Quality Monitoring
2.   Scanning of Environment Service
3.   Environmental Risk Assessment Service


Overview of Intelligent Environmental Sensing Solution


For Air Quality Monitoring, the environmental data which can be collected include air quality indicators (PM10, PM2.5, O3 and NO2) and weather-related indicators (ambient temperature, humidity, and rainfall). The spatial and temporal environmental data collected at the cloud server will then be fused and processed by an AI-based (artificial intelligent) data analytics engine. For example, in the case of air quality assessment, the air quality indicators (PM10, PM2.5, O3 and NO2) are treated as a spatiotemporal process and a deep learning algorithm is used to construct a space-time prediction framework. Traditional linear-model methods such as autoregressive moving average (ARMA) method is not suitable for air quality prediction, because the air quality process is inherently nonlinear and its temporal trends and spatial distributions are greatly affected by various factors, such as air pollutant emissions and deposition, weather conditions and traffic flow. As compared to the traditional methods, the deep learning-based method uses multiple-layer architecture to extract nonlinear spatiotemporal air quality features, thus it has superior performance for air quality prediction.

Air Quality Prediction based on Deep Learning


These days, this kind of  data can be acquired on an hourly basis and sent to a cloud server in real-time for accurate monitoring. A community can install a weather station that consists of a few sensors enclosed by an industrial-grade chassis for outdoor operation. Sensors available in a Weather Station include Rain Gauge, Temperature & Humidity Sensor, Particle Sensor, and Ozone & Nitrogen Dioxide Sensor, which could produce traces of gases in the environment such as Hydrogen Sulfide, Chlorine, n-Heptane and etc. This Weather Station is not only affordable but the deployment has also been made easy for a community to initiate.

A Sample of Weather Monitoring Station



Air Quality Station


On top of monitoring the air quality, the community or developer can also engage with a service to scan the topography of the surrounding area to produce high-resolution geological map of their neighbourhood for better understanding of the surrounding area.  These collection data could be updated from time to time, or on a demand basis during/after an emergency incidence and it could also be uploaded to the cloud server for further processing.

Multiple photos of the ground can be taken as the drone flies along a flight path. These photos will then be processed to generate point clouds, digital elevation models (DEMs) and 3D terrain models. Detection and classification of the risk of the slope or structural instability is accomplished by using a machine-learning algorithm based on a deep auto-encoder network with multiple hidden layers. The results are integrated with measurements from rain gauges to produce a landslide susceptibility map. Since the majority of landslides are induced by heavy rainfall, it is thus crucial to continuously monitor rainfall and measure how landscape evolves over time, facilitating both civil protection operations and countermeasures.

This is a state-of-the-art solution that can enhance the quality of life for residential communities. Deployment of cameras, radars and drones to conduct surveillance in the most challenging environment provides the market with a simpler, faster and safer choice and presents data processing capabilities that are fast and efficient, using state-of-the-art cloud computing, cutting-edge software, and proprietary algorithms.

Drone also can be launched to perform aerial photogrammetry surveys for land subsidence and landslide detection.

Example of Geological Section showing Landslide


The monitoring system for landslide may consist of multiple sensors such as in-place inclinometer, multiple strain gauge, piezometer, tiltmeter, infrared camera, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and rain gauge. Modern technique such as Ground Based Synthetic Aperture Radar (GBSAR) can be used as it has proved it effectiveness. And upon collection of data from various sensors described in previous sections, comprehensive analysis can thus be performed. The outcome of this stage can lead to the establishment of a set of criteria for Early Warning (EW) System that consists of hardware and software as well as the criterias that relate the measured data to the risk levels of landslide. The hardware refers to the sensors, transmission system, storage system and others support units that perform the data collection of the slope whereas the software refers to the control and processing of the data, evaluation of the risk level, and sending the required information to the designated administrators to assist in making the decision of action. The working principle of the EW system is illustrated in the figure below.


Working principle of EW


The scanning service can also be obtained by developers who want to minimize risk while maximizing the return of investment on their development projects. The scanning service usually creates a flight plan and launches a drone to perform aerial surveys with a wider view and at different perspective for land developers and the data collected by the drone will then be processed into the desired deliverables with accurate measurements. By engaging with this service, developers will be able to  provide accurate 3D terrain models of the development areas, environmental analysis, accurate contour maps, surface assessment for drainage modeling, earthwork volume calculations, high altitude views of tall buildings, elevation mapping as well as panoramic images for marketing purposes.  All the information gathered from the service will provide developers with valuable insight for the project and is likewise a useful arsenal for marketing.


3D Terrain Model Generated by Photogrammetry Technique


By continuously monitoring these environmental indicators and observing their spatiotemporal changes, a set of criteria is determined for evaluating the risk level. The risk levels are defined not only by the extent and imminence of the potential hazards but also based on the actions to be taken in accordance with the risk levels.



Example of the risk levels and their corresponding actions are depicted in the following figure. The recommended actions are based on the inputs from the experts and the local authorities, and in accordance to standard practices outlined by international bodies such as World Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and International Consortium on Landslides (ICL).


Cost Effective is the Question?


But, the services sound expensive for a community to take on, doesn’t it? Definitely not! The advancement in technology and the widespread use of cloud server make smart sensing technology affordable to communities and developers these days.

An example of the price for a Topography Survey which could provide the community with accurate and geo-tagged topographic drawings of your premises and surroundings with features represented by contours, texts and symbols, plus Land Subsidence Detection as well as Exterior Building and Structure Inspection is estimated around USD 4500 for less than 250 residential units.

The market price for Air and Weather monitoring including the hardware is estimated to be  around USD 4,000 for a community of less than 250 units, whereas an Environmental Risk Assessment, which consists of preliminary slope assessment, an initial site investigation and topographic survey of the slope, borehole logging and soil samples collection for slope stability analysis, slope monitoring and early warning real-time monitoring of slope stability and ground movement and early warning system setup and risk assessment reporting for every 6 months is offered by the market starting at around USD 12,500 up to USD 125,000 depending on the amount of equipments setup as well as depending on the slope conditions.

Hence, these services are rather affordable, taking into consideration the greater benefits it provides to the entire community. Hence, it is essential for a community to be in the know about the living environment in order to be able to take appropriate measures with that information in ensuring the safety of the community.   


CONCLUSION


In this article, four major environmental threats concerning urban dwellers have been reviewed, namely global warming, air/water pollution, floods and landslide hazards. Understanding the potential threats of our residential environment is of great importance to ensure that our families are well protected. This can be achieved by continuously monitoring the quality of our residential environment through a set of environmental indicators. An intelligent environmental sensing and analytics solution could be deployed in residential areas to collect timely environmental indicators, and analyze their impacts through an AI-based data analytics engine. Scanning of  Environment is another service which could provide a community with a clear environmental overview of a surrounding area and its risks, and Environmental Risk Assessment Service can then be used to assess slopes and the potential of  landslides in an area.  State-of-the-art Smart Sensing technology is capable in assessing the most up-to-date environmental indicators and their associated risk levels. It is imperative for a community to detect trends in the environment and instantly communicate the results to interested parties for decision making and prompt actions that could guarantee the safety and well being of a community.



References:
[1]  World Economic Forum 2018?, Global Risks 2018: Fractures, Fears and Failures, World Economic Forum, viewed 10 July 2018, <http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2018/global-risks-2018-fractures-fears-and-failures/>.

[2] NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information 2018, State of the Climate:
Global Climate Report for January 2018, NOAA, viewed February 25, 2018, <https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201801>.

[3] Anderson GB, Bell ML 2011.Heat Waves in the United States: Mortality Risk during
Heat Waves and Effect Modification by Heat Wave Characteristics in 43
U.S. Communities,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(2), pp. 210-218, doi:10.1289/ehp.1002313.

[4] Ambient Air Pollution: A Global Assessment of Exposure and Burden of Disease,
World Health Organization (WHO), 2016, ISBN: 9789241511353.

[5] Chang, Li-Chiu; Shen, Hung-Yu; Chang, Fi-John, 2014 “Regional Flood Inundation
Nowcast using Hybrid SOM and Dynamic Neural Networks,” Journal of Hydrology,
519 (Part A), pp. 476-489, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.07.036.

[6] Selvanathan, Sivasankkar, Mathini Sreetharan, Seth Lawler, Krista Rand,
Janghwoan Choi, and Mathew Mampara 2018,A Framework to Develop Nationwide
Flooding Extents Using Climate Models and Assess Forecast Potential
for Flood Resilience,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association
(JAWRA), 54(1), pp. 90-103, doi.org/10.1111/1752-1688.12613.

[7] Koo V.C., Lim C.S., William Hii H.H., et. al, 2015, “Ku-band Ground-based SAR Experiments for Surface Deformation Monitoring,” IEEE 5th Asia Pacific Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar, doi: 10.1109/APSAR.2015.7306288.

[8] Chaoying Zhao, Zhong Lu 2018. “Remote Sensing of Landslides – A Review,” Remote
Sens, 10(2), pp. 279, doi:10.3390/rs10020279.

[9] Donald Houston, Alan Werritty, David Bassett, Alistair Geddes, Andrew Hoolachan and Marion McMillan 2011, Pluvial (rain-related) Flooding in Urban Areas: the Invisible Hazard, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, viewed 25 March 2018, <http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/162145/7/162145.pdf>.

[10]  Stacy Hutchinson 2016, Urban water expert comments on water pollution in cities, Rio de Janiero, Kansas State University, viewed 9 July 2018, <https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jul15/pollution73115.html>.

[11] Rahman 2017, Landslides Disaster in Malaysia: an Overview, Research Gate, viewed 11 July 2018, <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321096764_Landslides_Disaster_in_Malaysia_an_Overview>.

[12] A Practical Landslide Monitoring Framework – How It Works
A White Paper by Yee-Kit CHAN

[13] Monitoring Air Quality Using A Deep Learning Model
A White Paper by Dr. Shing Chiang TAN and Dr. Voon-Chet KOO


Authors:

Voon-Chet KOO is currently a full Professor of Multimedia University. His research interest includes remote sensing technologies, signal processing, and embedded system design. Prof Koo has been a principal consultant for various government agencies and engineering firms since 2000. He has published more than 100 papers in refereed journals, international conferences, 2 books, and 9 patents. He is also the recipient of the inaugural Young Engineer Award by the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia in 2004. 

Prof. Koo has more than 20 years of experience in remote sensing and related technologies, particularly on high-resolution imaging system for environmental monitoring and earth resource management. He is a regular invited speaker in international conferences and has delivered guest lectures and technical workshops to various universities, government agencies and private sectors, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States. 

Prof. Koo is presently the Director of Digital Lifestyle Research Institute, MMU, Past Chair of the Centre for Remote Sensing and Surveillance Technologies, MMU, Past Chair of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society Chapter, Malaysia Section, a registered Professional Engineer with Practicing Certificate, a Fellow of the ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), and a senior member of IEEE. Prof. Koo is also the founder and the current CEO of a spin-off company of the university research centre. The company, iRadar, was incorporated in 2011 with primary focus to provide smart sensing solutions for environmental and vegetation growth monitoring. 




Norana Johar has a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from Indiana University of Bloomington, USA and began her career in the sales & marketing department at FingerTec in 2000 to market biometrics solutions for time attendance and door access worldwide. Throughout her service, she has helped to develop and deliver technology-driven business services and solutions, provide excellent client service, and drive profitable revenue growth throughout her leadership and experience. She is now assuming the role of Group Chief Operating Officer at TimeTec Computing Sdn. Bhd., whereby she has vast experience in handling the business's global network. of resellers operations.

Data Security in A Smart Residential Community


When Singapore, the world’s top ranking Smart City unveiled its pilot trial at the residential-business estate, Jurong Lake District in 2014, it served as a crucial test bed for the country's smart nation technologies and services. It included the rollout of more than 1,000 data sensors in the area, located in the western part of Singapore, which captures information--including video images--to be used in applications around urban mobility, sustainability, and improving "sensing and situational awareness". The trials involved multiple government agencies including the Housing Development Board (HDB), Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Environment Agency, and Land Transport Authority, as well as more than 20 companies and startups.

A smart queue monitoring system is one of the applications that tap advanced video sensing to determine in real-time the length and flow of a queue, for instance, at taxi stands. This information including potential waiting time can be fed to commuters who can then decide if they want to join the queue or take the bus. The data can also alert taxi companies in locations that require more cabs.

However, the plan was to capture all the data via sensors and the collected data will be analyzed and securely managed through a new Smart Nation Platform that all government agencies can connect to. Ultimately the government will own the platform but it is open to having private sector entities operate and manage it at the same time.



Smarter, More Data & Security Measures

With so much data involved, data privacy and security is becoming one of the main concerns, especially when the government is excluded from the Data Protection Act. Some even questioned should the private companies allowed to manage and operate the Smart Nation Platform, and which set of data privacy laws should they abide by?

We all know that sensor networks and perpetual data flows produce new service models and analytics to make modern cities and smart communities more livable, sustainable, and equitable, but at the same time, connected smart city devices raise concerns about individuals’ privacy, autonomy, and freedom of choice, as well as potential discrimination by institutions or governments.

To be fully participative in the social data revolution, we must shed the old mindset of passive “consumers”, who take in whatever is placed before us, and embrace a new mindset, that of active co-creator of social data. The balance of power is shifting between government and people, buyers and sellers, employers and employees, then only the data of the people can and will become data for the people. 

When a residential community upgraded itself to a so-called smart status loaded with all the smart systems, devices and sensors, the flow and generation of data would increase tremendously. In the past, the data might be kept on the local computer or server, and can only be accessed by a few administrators. Hence, even if you are the transactions owner, for example, if you need the hard copy of your up-to-date service charges, you have to go to the office and demand for the account executive to access your own account as well as ask her/him to print it for you. What is the impact for the individual and community as a whole with all the residential community data floating on the cloud?

As an individual, your personal data such as name, ID and contact information, family members, vehicle numbers, home address, service account status and etc., most probably will be captured and stored locally in the past but shifted to cloud in the smart era.

Your physical interactions with smart devices leave traces too. This set of access transaction data produces the time in/out data when you drive through the boom gate, book facilities, and access the condo’s lobby when returning home in addition to taking the lift, or any other thresholds or doors that are possible using smart devices. And with the availability of Internet and cloud computing, it can even generate real-time data as well.

How do we perceive to have all of these generated data to adhere to our daily activities? As an urban dweller, can we still live as a recluse in addition to segregating ourselves from the outside world? If the answer is no, we have to deal with the data maturely instead of rejecting the trend that will inevitably come by.



Data Security: The Fear Factors

Dr. Andreas Weigend, a global expert on the future Big Data, in his book, “Data For the People, How to Make Our Post-Privacy Economy Work for You”, laid three major fears in dealing with data that they can’t control.

First, there is the fear of information imbalance, of data being retrieved about others or the situation in a way that will alter the outcome of the interaction.  When one side of a conversation has access to information and the other side does not have, the power of imbalance can be unbearable and heightened the feelings of insecurity. 

Second, there is the fear of dissemination, of others sharing data with people, companies, or the web without permission.

Third, there is the fear of permanence, of others recording data and saving the data somewhere. In this case, the fear comes down to an uncertainty about how the data might be analyzed or used in the future. With no guarantee that the consequences of the recording will be positive, it might be best to assume the worst. In addition, laws differ from place to place about who is allowed to record what without permission.

With all the fear factors, if a community still has no idea on how to make use of the data for the larger benefits of the community, how can they minimize the risk and keep the data safely hosted on the cloud?



Five Types Of Data

Data is kept on the cloud storage according to its requirement.  We can classify community data into five types of data, which are:

a. Informative Data
Basic information such as resident and organization info, e-document and e-contact created by the community, unless the resident no longer stays in the neighbourhood, his/her basic data would be there for general access by him/herself or the authorized personnel.

b. Transaction Activity Data
Data derived from the transaction activities such as accounting billing, visitors activities, trigger of panic button, notifications, report incidents, e-polling and etc.

c. IoT Sensing Data
Data derived or generated from the transaction activities from the IoT devices for community use such as barrier gate, turnstile, elevator, smart lock and IoT reader for facility rooms, common areas and all other community purposes.

d. Video Surveillance Data
I separated video surveillance data from IoT device data due to the nature of the data and it can be based on transaction if set to motion detection mode or on-going recording mode. Hence, video surveillance data takes more storage than other types of data. And, if a longer duration is required, it can be divided to local storage and cloud storage, whereby cloud storage is for shorter period, cost concern and security measure and it likewise only store relevant activity images rather than video footages on the cloud.

e. Social Activity Data
Community tends to use the third party well-known social media tools like Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram and etc. to fulfill the residential community social needs, instead of using their own smart platform, which may or may have the social functionality. If third party social activity data is involved, means it falls to the social media provider’s terms and conditions, and of course, the appointed administrators or moderators can set their own rules to protect the community social activity data, for example, if Facebook is used, the privacy is encouraged to set as closed community, only invited members can view the page and post to the page.   

What are the best practices a community should have to ensure that data security risk is lowered to the very minimum before kick starting a smart residential community project?


A. Form A Data Security Committee

I suggest the community sets up an internal data security committee (can be limited to one person if there is manpower shortage), the leader should have some basic know-how about data security, at least lay down a simple framework for data security policy. 

Data security committee has to decide on the type of information to be collected from residents and visitors, the duration to keep different type of data on the cloud, to decide role-based of system administration and users, to ensure the adopted smart community system to have met some security measures, to play a role in selecting smart system providers, to audit from time to time whether the data security complies and meets the criteria, to educate the neighbourhood on the good practices of data security at a community level and personal level.


B. Vendor Selection

Since self-initiated smart residential community project normally will engage a third party vendor or an integrator during implementation, the selection of the vendor becomes the most crucial task because companies awarded with the project is at the forefront of installing the system that deals with the abundance of data generated while in daily operation, the backend to house your data, and the knowledge on how to secure the data during transmission. Among all these, how seriously a company treats data security into its account is the foremost important criteria in evaluation. 

Some evaluation criteria can be considered as follows:


1. Whether or not the company is ISO 27001 certified?
ISO 27001 is a security management standard that specifies security management best practices and comprehensive security controls following the ISO 27001 best practice guidance. The basis of this certification is the development and implementation of a rigorous security program, which includes the development and implementation of an Information Security Management System (ISMS), which defines how the company perpetually manages security in a holistic, comprehensive manner. This widely-recognized international security standard specifies the entities as follow:

Systematically evaluate the information security risks, taking into account the impact of the company's threats and vulnerabilities.

Design and implement a comprehensive suite of information security controls and other forms of risk management to address the company's architecture security risks.

Adopt an overarching management process to ensure that the information security controls meet the company's information security needs on an ongoing basis.


2. Whether or not the company does third party penetration test yearly?
A penetration test, or pen test, is an attempt to evaluate the security of an IT infrastructure by safely trying to exploit vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may exist in operating systems, service and application flaws, improper configurations, or risky end-user behaviors. Such assessments are also useful in validating the efficacy of defensive mechanisms as well as end-user adherence to security policies. A penetration test can help determine whether a system is vulnerable to attack, if the defences were sufficient, and which defences (if any) the test defeated.


3.  Whether the company that provides the smart community platform is ready with two-factor authentication?
For increased security, we recommend that you configure 2-factor authentication to help protect your system accounts. 2-factor authentication adds extra security because it requires the administrators with the highest authority to access the system via a unique authentication code from an approved authentication device.


4.  Whether the company host the smart community service in a trusted cloud server?      
Since there is only a handful of global renowned cloud computing platform providers such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google GCP, HP Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, this shouldn’t be a problem if the big names are seen in your selection, because your cloud data would eventually reside on the cloud server of the vendor that you choose to work with. But beware of the vendor who often use security measures provided by these cloud platform providers and claim that those are theirs. It is certainly not totally wrong, but always remember, when Amazon AWS guarantees a 99.95% uptime, it does not mean that the smart community system that is provided by the vendor will tag along with the uptime too. The smart community system that is hosted on AWS might still be down due to other reasons, in which the responsibility will be solely borne by the smart system provider.


5.   Whether the company is in compliance with GDPR?
On 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new data protection law for European countries started to take effect. GDPR is meant to strengthen the protection of personal data, it is a wide-reaching legislation, as it applies to all companies handling personal data of EU residents and its scope also covers almost all data relating to an individual, such as IP addresses, website cookies and more. With this, the EU has really taken a major step forward to strengthen data protection by shifting the rights over personal data away from companies back into your hands. A lot of privacy protection statements are self-claimed by vendors without having taken the compliance very seriously. GDPR, even though it is dependent on a company to be self-regulated, a compliant company will have to offer clearer explanations about what data is being collected and how it is going to be used. For example, consent shall be presented in a manner in which is clearly distinguishable from the other matters, in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. Any part of such a declaration which constitutes an infringement of this Regulation shall not be binding. In other words, if a company is ready to comply with GDPR, the community has less to worry about the measure it has taken for data protection.


C. Adhere to Role-based Access for the Smart Community System

In computer systems security, role-based access control is an approach to restrict system access to authorized users. Role-based access control is sometimes referred to as role-based security. System roles control what sections in the Administrator Panel are available to different types of users. That said, most users have a system role of none, which means that they do not have access to the Administrator Panel.

You can use system roles to assign subsets of administrative privileges to other users. This helps you delegate routine administrative tasks to other users. For example, you can grant an instructor access to the user management pages, where the instructor can create users, edit user profiles, or change a user's enrollment in courses.

Only a user with full administrator privileges can assign privileges to a system role.

If your institution licenses community engagement, you can assign multiple secondary system roles to a user account. Multiple system roles grant the user the sum of their privileges. This makes it possible to create system roles based on tasks instead of creating a separate system role for every possible set of privileges.

In a smart community system, account executives are only assigned with an account and billing module, while security guard when calling residents through their guardhouse panel, may not have the access to view the contact numbers of the residents.


D. Decide on the Data to be Collected

Smart community system will flood with all types of data and information. Some data are raw and self-generated whenever there is a transaction occurring on IoT devices. Unless the smart devices are absent in a smart community system, which is unlikely, so these self-generated data is auto-collected and the committee can only decide on the duration it resides on the cloud server.

Some collected information can be decided by the community, for example designing an online visitor form to be filled up either by visitors, residents or security guards. A community can even add on a registration form complete with the  capability to auto-capture a visitors’ image from their identity card, driver’s license or live image from an installed camera.

Collecting of information should not be excessive; as long that it meets the requirements to keep the smart community moving should be adequate.


E. Decide on the Duration to Keep the Data

Different types of data might have varying durations to be kept in the cloud. For example the basic informative data such as names, contact numbers and etc., would be kept until the resident is no longer staying at the premises; for accounting records, the management committee are governed under the Strata Act, whereby the accounting record shall be kept according to the Company Act, for example, 7 years after the completion of the transactions and operations.

Some types of data might need to be kept in a separate copy in the local storage like surveillance video footage to save cost and to provide convenience for daily operation. And cloud storage should only be limited to activity images, like the snapshot of visitor photos from the guardhouse for recording purposes.

IoT data will account for roughly 10 percent of all the data registered globally in 2020, according to IDC market intelligence firm. Most IoT adopters fail to use their data or they derive just a small part of its value. For example, only one percent of data coming from the 30k sensors on a single oil grid gets turned into actionable insights. Unless a community has already figured out how to exploit its IoT data to a greater efficiency, a community has to decide whether, after a certain duration, an expired IoT transaction data can be purged automatically from the cloud. 


F. Select IoT Smart Devices with Data encryption during Transmission

In order to secure all data traffic between the smart devices and mobile phones, if Bluetooth communication is deployed, make sure that the IoT devices are embedded with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption.

AES was published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2001 after the evaluation process of the AES contest. Rijndael was the winner of the contest and NIST selected it as the algorithm for AES. Starting from 2001, AES has been adopted by the U.S. government and is now being used worldwide. It supersedes the Data Encryption Standard (DES) which was published in 1977. The algorithm described by AES is a symmetric-key algorithm, meaning the same key is used for both encrypting and decrypting the data. AES is considered secure, very fast and compact which is about 1 kB of code; its block size is a multiple of 32 (typically 128 bits), its key length is also a multiple of 32 (typically 128, 192, or 256 bits), and it has a neat algebraic description.

AES encryption is used for encoding the information being exchanged between Bluetooth devices in such a way that eavesdroppers cannot read its contents. So, the contents that are sent between IoT device and mobile phone are safe and secure. Besides data encryption, we also have adjusted the Bluetooth range or Bluetooth antenna of the IoT devices to fit for particular usage and prevented someone from Bluesnarfing on our IoT devices. For example, for a smartphone to connect to a BLE door lock, the person must be within 1-2 meters from the IoT device to prevent intruders from eavesdropping at a corner.

In a nutshell, Bluetooth technology particularly BLE, is a great addition to businesses and consumers. However, it is also important for all users to understand the technology and the risks involved in its use so the risks can be mitigated for better user experience.


G.  Conduct Audit from Time to Time on Data Security

It is hard for a smart community to comply with ISO 27001 or to engage with a third-party organization in auditing its data security practice. The data security committee should establish a data security checklist with further revision and enhancement from time to time, and conduct an audit once in a year based on the checklist to ensure correction and remedy actions are taken if the practice deviates from the checklist.


H.  Conduct Data Security Awareness and Precaution Training Class

Another role of the committee is to conduct data security workshops or seminars by inviting experts to present talks and provide trainings to the community members from time to time. 



Personal Level Data Security

For personal level, since the community members or the residents will opt for smartphones and its smart community App rather than its web portal for the purposes of making payment, viewing notifications, inviting visitors, booking facilities and etc; and furthermore if the community is installed with smart devices which use smartphones as personal credentials for access, then the increase of utilization of smartphone at the personal level would be apparent. Hence, we list down a set of security guides to keep your phone and data safe even though it is general practices that are not targeted solely on a smart community platform. 


1. Activate A Screen Lock
After a short period of inactivity (30 seconds, for example), your phone should auto-lock itself. It is a must not only for your mobile device, but also for your laptop or tablet. This is the easiest way to keep intruders away from your data. It is also essential that you enforce automatic wiping of the device after several failed login attempts.

2. Mind Your Apps
Always use official app stores to download and install an app. Disable the option to allow installation of third party apps as they usually carry malware that will harm your smartphone. Of course, the app that is using to manage your smart community is chosen at the community level, not a personal decision and with sufficient consideration and guidance, so the risk to download the community app does not arise here. 

3. Install Ad Blocker
It is recommended to install an ad blocker. Not because the ads are intrusive and have been failing potential customers, but because they can be exploited by cyber criminals. For example, malvertising can be served right on your smartphone through ad servers – and you don’t even need to click on anything in order to get infected!

4. Beware Of Phishing
It is much harder to spot a phishing page on your mobile phone than on your PC or your laptop. Keep your guard up against phishing on all your devices, no matter if it is a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Don’t click on short, suspicious links that you didn’t request. And be careful with those attachments that you've downloaded via email or instant messaging services.

5. Activate Remote Device Locator
In case your smartphone is lost or stolen, the easiest way to remotely locate it, is by installing a dedicated app and making sure that the option to track its location is always turned on.

6. Activate Automatic Backup
Have automatic backups in the cloud. This option is available on all operating systems, you just have to enable it (or don’t disable it, in case it’s already set as default). In case that your phone is lost, destroyed or stolen, you won’t have to worry about the fact that you didn’t get the chance to backup all your data on it. All apps and data will be automatically synchronized in the cloud.

7. Activate Two-Factor Authentication
No matter if you have an Apple, a Google or a Microsoft account, activating the two-factor authentication is a must. This will act as a second layer of security. In doing so, every time you sign in on a new device or from a new location, it will require you to verify your identity through a unique, time-sensitive code, that you’ll receive via text message.

8. Turn On Encryption
If your smartphone offers the option to encrypt the data on it, enable it.

9. Install An Antivirus
Install a trustworthy antivirus. Although they aren’t as potent as their desktop versions, it is still a better alternative rather than having no antivirus installed.


Summary

1.  In this chapter, the author discusses that a vast pool of data will be generated when shifting an existing community system to a smart community system, and data security will become a more crucial issue in which a community has to deal with.

2.  The interaction with IoT smart devices created more transaction data in a smart community system.

3.  The fear factors drive users to take data privacy and security more seriously. Hence, when adopting a smart community system, security precaution should be part of the entire implementation plan.

4.  The author lists down 5 major types of data namely informative data, transaction activity data, IoT sensing data, video surveillance data and social activity data generated when implementing a smart community system.

5.  At the community level, the author also lists 8 best practices to lower the risk of data security to a minimum. The practices are a) Form a data security committee; b) Vendor selection guideline; c) Adhere to role-based access; d) Decide the data set to be collected; f) Decide on the duration of time keeping the data; g) Ensure smart devices come with strong data encryption; h) To audit on data security measure from time to time, and i) Conduct data security awareness and training workshop for community members.

6.  At the personal level, the author also lists down 9 best practices to reduce data security risk. 


 References

1.  Cristina Chipurici 2017, Smartphone Security Guide: The Easiest Way to Keep Your Phone & Data Safe: How to enhance your smartphone’s security and privacy (handy tips included)Heimdal Security Blog, viewed 17 July 2018, <https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/smartphone-security-guide-keep-your-phone-data-safe/>.

2.  Andreas Weigend 2017, Data For the People, How to Make Our Post-Privacy Economy Work for You, Basic Books, New York.

3.  Eileen Yu 2014, Data privacy ambiguity may hamper Singapore's smart nation ambition, ZDNet, viewed 14 July 2018, <https://www.zdnet.com/article/data-privacy-ambiguity-may-hamper-singapores-smart-nation-ambition/>.

4.  Katherine Lazarevich 2018, What You Should Be Doing With Your IoT DataMedium.com, viewed 19 July 2018, <https://medium.com/iotforall/what-to-do-with-your-iot-data-in-2018-4fc408ed18a9>.




Teh Hon Seng, Group CEO of TimeTec Group of Companies. Prior to forming TimeTec, Teh led PUC Founder (MSC) Bhd to be listed on MESDAQ (ACE) market of Bursa Malaysia in 2002. Teh initiated the R&D in fingerprint technology in 2000, which later developed into a renowned global brand for commercial fingerprint product known as FingerTec. In 2008, he foresaw the trend of cloud computing and mobile technology, and over the years, he had strategically diversified and transformed its biometric-focused products into a suite of cloud solutions that aimed at workforce management and security industries including smart communities that centered around the cloud ecosystem. Teh has more than 10 patents to his name, and he is also a columnist in a local newspaper and a writer of several books.

Smart Gated Residential Community: A New Ecosystem For Urbanization Trend


Open Communities Vs Gated Communities

Last chapter, I discerned the differences between Smart City, Smart Community and Smart Residential Community, and I will continue to focus on how to add “smartness” onto the Residential Community only. The narrowed down scope is mainly to boost up the practicality in terms of implementation.
Even if I downsized the discussion scope and limit it to residential communities only, there are two types of residential communities, generally defined either as Open Communities or Gated Communities for the common urban settlements.
For open or non-gated residential communities, it almost can be self-explained with the benefits that include:

•    Lower cost. Homes in open communities are often offered at a lower price tag when compared to the houses of gated communities. For the gated communities, fees for staff, maintenance personnel and homeowner association (HOA) or resident association (RA) can quickly add up.
•    It is convenient for the residents of open communities to access in or out of their area. On the other hand, rush hour traffic could be a nightmare for the gated community.
•    For open community, it provides a more visitor-friendly nature. Stringent visitation policy is often applied in gated community for security reasons which could make guests feel inconvenient or annoyed during the process of visitor verification, having to wait in line for the security guard to confirm their visit.
The closest definition used by the researchers to refer to gated communities is the definition given by Blakely and Synder. (Blakely & Synder 1997, p.2). They defined gated community as “residential areas with restricted access in which normally public spaces are privatized”. In addition, Landman (2000a), refer gated communities as a physical area that is fenced or walled off from its surroundings, either prohibiting or controlling access to these areas by means of gates or booms.
But you may find more and more residential real estate developments that move towards gated community. Across the United States, more than 10 million housing units are in gated communities, where access is “secured with walls or fences,” according to the 2009 Census Bureau data. Roughly 10 percent of the occupied homes in this country are in gated communities, though that figure is misleadingly low because it doesn’t include temporarily vacant homes or second homes. Between 2001 and 2009, the United States saw a 53 percent growth in occupied housing units nestled in gated communities.
This trend is expected to continue for the Americans as well as populations in other countries. We can sum up the benefits of gated communities as follows: 

•        Gated communities have an increased amount of security that may increase the value of your property.
•        Gated communities typically have HOAs that dictate the standards of the community, which improves the quality of the neighborhood as a whole.
•        Gated communities have less traffic and fewer solicitors than open communities do.

Constructions of more gated communities are rising in demand, but the practice of gated communities is not a new concept, and clearly quite ancient in history.




A Little History Of Gated Communities

The development of gated communities had started throughout the world a long time ago. For example in England, the gated communities could be traced back as early as 300 B.C by the Romans, mainly to protect some social groups and their families against external invaders and local villagers. In China, it turned out that gated communities were common in Chinese cities for more than a millennium (Xu and Yang 2009), and they were prominent in Mexico from the time of the Spanish conquest until the present (Scheinbaum 2008). Figure 1 shows a traditional Chinese walled compound (i.e., a gated community). Interestingly, these features resemble Inka walled compounds (called kancha) in Peru (Figure 2). There is no historical connection showed at all between the Chinese and Inka examples; these are independent adaptations of gated communities to what were probably similar urban forces and conditions for the fundamental needs.

Figure 1: Ancient Chinese Walled Compound



Figure 2: Inka Kancha, Peru


As in most pre-modern cities, the Chinese compounds were probably designed by their residents, and built either by the residents or by builders contracted by the residents. Even though we know less about the construction of the Inka compounds, but from the Maps of Inka settlements show that these kancha units are highly standardized, most probably because of central planning (Hyslop 1990).

Even in the modern era, gated communities differ from country to country, with respect to their characteristics in particular to different culture, ethnicity, prestige and security concern. But the rising trend of gated communities also receives many criticisms, most commonly being “ghetto for the rich” and “a cause of social segregation”. These criticisms are often intertwined when, for instance, feelings of insecurity have an impact on the social fabric or on rich people’s desire to exist apart.
Despite the criticism, the number of gated communities continue to climb, due to the rising urges and demands to upgrade their homestay community into a smart residential community. And frankly, only gated communities have the higher feasibility to achieve a smart status if compared to open communities. 
We have learned the four criterias in the earlier chapter for the definition to add the essence of “smart” to a community which summarize as follows:

1. The application of a wide range of electronic and digital technologies at the community level;

2. The embedding of such Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in community systems;

3. The use of ICT to transform life environments within the community;

4. The territorialization of practices that brings ICTs and people together to enhance the innovation and knowledge that they offer.

Let us spend some time on the facts within the following discussion as to why open communities are less advantageous when adopting a smart system while upgrading their communities.


Why is it more difficult for open communities to adopt smart system?

It is definitely not an easy task for non-gated communities to adopt smart technologies due to the nature of the real estates. For example, since open community’s house owners are usually issued with the individual title of their property and are not governed under the Strata Title Act; forming a resident association (RA) or management committee (MC) is not mandatory. Without a proper organization or regulated body to act on behalf of the majority residents, to decide on the level of adoption of the smart technologies, to oversee the implementation, it is almost an impossible mission for a non-gated community to do it. Furthermore, in open communities, usually there is no collection of monthly maintenance fees and sinking funds, no hiring of management staffs. Therefore, it is hard to keep the smart system running on a daily basis.  On top of that, open communities lack other facilities like clubhouse, landscaping, swimming pool and etc. Besides the basic amenities like water, electricity and garbage disposal, other facilities even if available, most probably do not belong to the communities as part and parcel of their properties.
Although some housing developments are categorized as open community, residents have nevertheless taken steps to barricade access generally by setting up guard posts with the hopes of preventing and reducing crime in the area. Usually, some form of physical barrier surrounds the boundaries to the housing estate whereas residents engage private security firm to provide the security guard services. This often involves an attempt to restrict or regulate public spaces privately by erection of barriers on public needs, guardhouses, etc. But, because the access roads belong to the public in individual title properties, it is unlawful to any privately attempts to restrict or regulate public spaces without the approval of the relevant authority. Any attempt to close, barricade or restrict the access of a public road, drain or space, for example in Malaysia, there may be a contravention of Sections 46(1) of Street Drainage and Building Act 1974, Section 80 of the Road Transport Act 1987 and Section(s) 62 and 136 of the National Land Code 1965. In addition, provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 of Malaysia may also be violated where guardhouses are built in the public land or road shoulders, unless the resident association (RA) opts to implement a joint private contract with the Municipal or take over the upkeep entirely from the Authority.
Even  when the local authorities are closing one eye or a contract has been established with the local authorities; the bottom line is, there is no law governing the collection of service charges, all the extra facilities that are installed within the community would not be properly maintained or sustained in the long run.
All these “natures” of an open community restrict the adoption of smart technologies, but if the unregulated RA of an open community overcomes the limitations to a certain extend, the adoption of the smart technologies to further upgrade the neighbourhood to certain level is thus more viable.
Smart community depends on smart people. Without the facilities, or extra funds to invest in a smart system, the voluntary RA in an open community still can make use of the free social Apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook, or even Blogpost which utilize smartphone technology to improve the sociality in the neighbourhood, or setup their own communication platform and achieve certain goals for the benefits of their community. 
You can’t add too much of “smart technologies” into the open communities. Because, without a regulated organization to manage a community as a whole, an open community remains as a combination of all the individual units, or the RA organizes the community as a loose form. Individual unit homeowners might install their house with standalone smart home system, and their smart home system may hook up with some external service providers like a grocery supplier, but eventually it is not the smart community system that benefits the residents at the community level.



From Gated Community To Smart Gated Community

On the other hand, a strata title is usually issued for high-rise properties such as condominiums, apartments, and landed properties, which are gated and guarded. A strata title is issued when you own a portion of the land, alongside with the other owners. A typical feature of strata properties is when the house you bought (whether landed or high-rise), comes with common facilities and areas such as swimming pools, clubhouses, and other common properties which are shared by all the residents.


A. The Characteristics Of Gated Community  

When it comes to gated communities with landed strata titles, the collection of service charges are mandated by the Strata Management Act. A gated community may refer to a cluster of houses that are surrounded by a wall or fence on a perimeter with entry or access of enclaves controlled by certain measures of restrictions such as guards, boom gates or barriers which normally includes 24 hour security, guard patrols, central monitoring systems and closed circuit televisions (CCTV) cameras. The emphasis in these guarded communities is the combination of security, privacy and the affluent lifestyle of its residents. For easier comprehension, we list the common characteristics and features of gated communities as shown in Figure 3. 

Figure 3: Characteristics Of Gated Communities
 CHARACTERISTICS FEATURES
Security• Surrounded by fences or walls
• Physical security measures such as security guards, closed-circuit television system (CCTV) or central monitoring system and 24-hour patrol system.
• Alarm security system.
Privacy• Privatization of public spaces.
• Private roads are closed to general traffic.
• Private amenities.
Facilities and amenities• Residents own and share common facilities and amenities such as recreational park, swimming pool and golf courses.
• All facilities including roads are maintained by the management corporation.
Limitation of access• Limited public access to non-residents with controlled entrance by security guards
• Access card
Terms and regulation• Residents are bound by specific rules of the housing schemes
• Residents are required to pay a maintenance fee for the facilities provided by gated communities’ schemes
Luxury• Usually designed with luxurious lifestyle
• Housing types: bungalow, semi-detached, terrace and townhouse
• High class facilities: golf courses, sports centre, medical centre, clubhouse, international school, pavilion
Land title• Strata title
• Individual title
Types of development• Landed properties
• High-rise properties
• Mixed housing development
Management corporation• Established under Commissioner of Building of local authorities
• Have been agreed in Deeds of Mutual Covenants (DMC)
• Private governing body
(Source: Researcher, 2014)



The existing technologies for gated community


Based on the above characteristics and features, and the facilities most commonly installed for gated communities, we can group the existing technologies deployed by gated community into four main categories:


1. Access Control System

    a. Boom gate/barrier gate and parking system
         - To control and allow only authorized vehicles, either residents or visitors to enter or exit the area. 

     b. Door Access system
         -  For lobby, gym room, lift, turnstile and etc for human access control.


2. Security System

    a. Guard tour system
        - To monitor security guards carrying out their perimeter and certain checkpoint patrolling duties to safeguard the community.  

    b. CCTV surveillance & central monitoring system
        - CCTVs are normally installed at the guardhouse for entry and exit of vehicles, visitors and residents, or along the perimeter of some strategic areas within the area. 


3. Management System 

   a.  Accounting software
        - Accounting system to maintain reliable and timely financial records for property management. 

   b. Billing & payment system
        - Invoicing system to bill the unit owners for maintenance and sinking funds and etc as well as monitor the payment records. 

   c. Time & attendance system for workforce management team
       - To manage the management office staff, guards, gardeners, cleaners’ time & attendance 

   d.  Visitor management system
        - To manage all kinds of visitors including friends, vendors, contractors, service providers as well as the dropping-off and picking up of residents by cab drivers, etc. 


4. Communication System 

    a. Intercom system
       - Normally voice or video phone mounted in individual units to allow residents to communicate with the guard or receptionist in case of a surprise visitor.

Please take note that we ignore the non-tech components like noticeboard as a communication system due to it non-tech nature.

All of the above mentioned system might be some sort of a computer system, or fit the listed four criterias that build a smart community to some extent, but in general it is still far-fetched based on a smart community standard.

Most of the existing community technologies have the following problems, which deter them from moving a step higher in the “smart” ladder.


1. Existing systems are mostly isolated, standalone or scattered and outdated

Surprisingly, Windows-based system is still in a dominant position for the scattered community management system, from accounting software, access control system to central monitoring system and visitor management system; they are still being used in day-to-day operation. And, even certain new gated-housing development projects, windows-based management systems still come as parcel to be transferred later to the management committee by the developers.

The shortcomings of Windows-based system are apparent, such as non-interactive, poor remote access, accessibility only confined to a few administrators, against the concept of smart community in which personal data can easily be accessed by the individual owner, common community information can easily be shared and retrieved by neighbours, the interaction between residents and residents or residents and visitors or the communities outside the enclave can easily be achieved. In the Internet era, Windows-based applications are lamented as closed system and weak in human interaction, almost impossible to use as the building blocks of an ecosystem that is much anticipated by a smart society.


2. Lack of integration, weak in workflow and automation

When a system is standalone, or has a limitation in integration with other systems, then it lacks of workflow to facilitate the automation processes. For example, you may have a visitor management system, but it can’t separate these different kinds of visitors and all are treated as walk-in visitors. You can’t pre-register visitors, you have a problem to speed up visitors check-in and check-out process when stringent security measure is taken, you can’t automate door access and lift access for the visitors because there is no integration of visitor management system with access control system. A fully integrated system can improve workflow, for example, approval workflow for visitation and facility booking, workflow of e-billing followed by online payment, defect report followed by defect solving ticketing system. 


3. Lack of online process capability & mobility

Today, “online” and “mobility” are the two fundamental pillars in enabling the smart communities. We noticed that most of the communities are still far from adopting the online process and mobility into their system.  For example in smartphones, or more specifically, Apps seldom play an active role in security system, management system, communication system and access control system.


4. Lack of friendliness

When gated community is often being criticized for its social segregation, and the system is too rigid and not friendly in receiving visitors, a smart gated community should have the ability to reduce if not eliminate the unfriendly image, and also should have the aptitude to improve communication with the communities outside the enclave.

The system design of the current systems usually is based on mission-oriented problem-solving model; rarely in system designers’ mind they have the responsibility to improve the relationship between the residents, or between the residents and the outside world.  




Building an ecosystem for smart community rather than merely adopting smart technologies


When I list down the existing gated community system and its weaknesses, people may ask, “Hey, if we upgrade and replace all the outdated systems with the latest smart technologies, is it good enough for us to achieve a smart community status?” The answer is no. Because you just get and use all the “tools”, too superficial for a successful smart community. To build a successful smart community, we have to think eco-systematically, rather than adopting the smart technologies as rigid entities. In biological term, an ecosystem is a community made up of living organisms and non-living components such as air, water, and mineral soil. But for an ecosystem in a smart community, living organisms that we refer to, are the people or residents that live in the neighbourhood, how residents associate and interact among themselves, and between residents and their surrounding environment.


Figure 4: Ecosystem framework for smart residential community 


1. Community Created Services

Communities are the miniature of smart cities, but with very localized needs. Some examples of potential smart communities include university campuses, office parks, airports, cargo ports, multi-dwelling units (MDU) or apartment complexes, housing developments/neighborhoods, business districts and even individual “smart” buildings. They have needs for smart services that may be tailored specifically for their stakeholders.

Examples:
- General Services
- Smart Facilities
- Visitor Management
- Guard & Patrol Services
- Environment Monitoring
- Vehicle Management


2. Corporate Created Services

Businesses and organizations may create services that use and create information to produce outcomes for its communities. Some examples of “smart” businesses include O2O, Uber,  Lyft  and Grab for personal mobility, NextDoor for information sharing, and Waze/Google for traffic and commute planning, near field commerce for merchants around the communities. Smart community committee or provider may consider the integration of the corporate created services into the smart community system for better workflow and automation.

Examples: 
- Near field commerce
- O2O service providers


3. Resident Created Services

Residents are also smart service providers in the smart community. A resident living in the enclave can broadcast defective public amenities and stream live information through the community communication platform, or create the social activities through its event management feature, or gather poll among residents for some smart services.  Residents can choose to make these smart services temporary or permanent, and free or charge based.

Examples: 
- Yard sales
- Profit micro-services
- Non-profit micro-services
- Social activities


4. Government Created Services

Some services are provided by municipal and quasi-government agencies, such as smart parking, smart water management, smart lighting, and so on. But in terms of self-initiated smart community projects, government created services are the most passive, and whether can be tapped by the communities to value-add for the greater good are not usually within the grip of smart residential communities. One might want to exclude government created services out from the context of their Smart Residential Community project planning.  


Examples:
- Waste Management
- Lighting
- Traffic Control
- Energy Management


Innovation catalyst and smart city expert, Benson Chan raises 7 capability layers to build an ecosystem for a smart city. I adopted and narrowed down the same capability layer concepts to the smart residential community.   

A smart residential community is an ecosystem comprised of multiple “capability layers”. While technology is a critical enabler, it is just one of many foundational capabilities that every smart residential community must have. No one capability is more important than the rest. Each capability plays a different role in the smart residential community. These capabilities must integrate and coordinate with each other to carry out its mission.


1. Value Layer

This is the most visible layer for residents, merchants, visitors, workers, and others. This layer emphasize the smart community services or “use cases”, centered around the results (Figure 5), and offered by value creators as well as consumed by the residents. 


Figure 5: Value Strategy


Government Efficiency
The evaluation of government efficiency can be ignored because is beyond the control of the Smart Community Committee

Quality of Life
Standard of living, satisfaction and happiness of residents

Security
Safety protection at home and within the enclave and surrounding neigbourhood from crime, hazards and disasters

Sustainability
Overall maintenance of the smart ecosystem

Environmental friendly
Environmental, water and air quality management

Mobility
Deployment of smartphone and mobile apps in a smart residential community. 

2. Innovation Layer
To stay competitive in order to create larger benefits for the community, value creators in the smart community must continuously innovate and update its services for its neighbourhood.


3. Management And Operations Layer
The smart community creates disruption and results in digital transformation of existing processes and services. Smart city management models must integrate a new ecosystem of value creators and innovators. They must plan, support and monetize new business models, processes and services. They must upgrade their existing infrastructure and management processes to support “smart” services. Finally, they must measure the performance of the community with a new set of metrics.


4. Policy, Processes, Public-private Partnerships, And Financing Layer
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Similarly, smart community doesn’t just magically appear overnight. An entirely new set of engagement models, rules, financing sources, and partners are required to build, operate and maintain the smart residential community.


5. Information And Data Layer
The lifeblood of the smart community is information. The smart community must facilitate this in several ways, including open data initiatives, data marketplaces, analytics services, and monetization policies. Equally important, they must have programs that encourage data sharing and privacy policies to protect what and how the data is gathered.


6. Connectivity, Accessibility And Security Layer
As an ecosystem, people, things and systems are interconnected in the smart community. The ability to seamlessly connect all three, manage and verify who and what is connected and shared, while protecting the information and users are crucial. The highest priorities for smart communities are to provide a seamless layer of trusted connections.


7. Smart Community Technology Infrastructure Layer
Most people automatically think of technology when talking about smart communities. The smart community technology infrastructure must scale beyond the traditional community users and support a new class of value creators, and community members.



How To Start?


To think eco-systematically in implementing a smart residential community project, here are some key points for smart community stakeholders to ponder with before kick-starting the project in order to create a sustainable and scalable smart community:

1.      Understand the smart community ecosystem’s framework and tailor it to the realities of the specific requirements. Incorporate this model into the development of their smart residential community vision, strategy and execution plans.

2.      Relative to the smart community ecosystem framework, identify current capabilities and gaps across the various layers. Understand what is needed to support the four types of value creators. 

3.      Evaluate existing and new smart community projects and initiatives against the ecosystem framework. Use this framework to identify what is missing from the project plans and what is needed to make the projects fully successful.

4.    Prioritize and develop competencies across the various ecosystem layers. A smart community requires new skills and competencies. Augment existing capabilities through strategic partnerships and contracting with service providers.

Summary


1.      In this chapter, the author differentiates the open and gated community, the pros and cons, and why smart residential community projects are more viable to implement in gated communities rather than non-gated open communities. 

2.      The author traced the history of gated community back to the pre-modern era and why it became a rising trend in today’s housing developments.

3.      A list of characteristics and features of gated community is being laid, and the author has divided the community system into 4 categories, which are access control system, security system, management system and community system. 

4.      The author discussed the weaknesses of the existing community system, like scattered and lack of integration; lack of online process and mobility; lack of workflow process and automation; and lack of friendliness. 

5.      The author suggests to build a smart community is not merely an adoption of smart technologies, but to think eco-systematically. 

6.      The author discussed the ecosystem model to build a successful and sustainable smart community.


References:

1. Noor Rosly Hanif, Wan Nor Azriyati Wan Abd Aziz, Peter Aning Anak Tedong, Deborah Peel, and Greg Lloyd 2015,  "Gated and guarded communities in Malaysia: The new roles of the state and civil society", Studies of Urban and Regional Real Estate (SURE), Faculty of Built Environment, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, pp. 1-19.

2. Nur Azhani Adnan, Norjariah Arif, Zarina Shamsudin, Khadijah Md Ariffin, Marina Osman, Noralfishah Sulaiman 2014, "PRACTICE OF GATED COMMUNITIES DEVELOPMENT IN MALAYSIA: TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES", Department of Real Estate Management, Faculty of Technology Management and Business, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, pp. 1-13.


3. ERA Real State 2014, Open Communities vs. Gated Communities: Which is Best?, ERA Real State, viewed 6 July 2018, <https://www.era.com/explore/open-communities-vs-gated-communities-which-is-best/>. 

4. Michael E. Smith 2011, The Ancient History of Gated Communities, Wide Urban World, viewed 21 July 2018, <http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.com/2011/04/ancient-history-of-gated-communities.html>.

5. Jayadeep Hari & Jamil 2017?, Gated & Guarded Community – Malaysia, HG.org Legal Resources, viewed 18 July 2018, <
https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/gated-and-guarded-community-malaysia-6220>.

6. Benson Chan 2018, "Planning Sustainable Smart Cities with the Smart City Ecosystem Framework”.


7. Wikipedia 2018, Gated Community, Wikipedia, viewed 22 July 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gated_community>.


8. Z. Shamsudin, E.Y. Ying 2016, “The Safety Level of Gated and Guarded Community Scheme in Malaysia”, The European Proceedings of Social & Behavioural Sciences, EpSBS, Future Academy, pp. 576-583.  



Teh Hon Seng, Group CEO of TimeTec Group of Companies. Prior to forming TimeTec, Teh led PUC Founder (MSC) Bhd to be listed on MESDAQ (ACE) market of Bursa Malaysia in 2002. Teh initiated the R&D in fingerprint technology in 2000, which later developed into a renowned global brand for commercial fingerprint product known as FingerTec. In 2008, he foresaw the trend of cloud computing and mobile technology, and over the years, he had strategically diversified and transformed its biometric-focused products into a suite of cloud solutions that aimed at workforce management and security industries including smart communities that centered around the cloud ecosystem. Teh has more than 10 patents to his nam, and he is also a columnist in a local newspaper and a writer of several books.