Yesterday our team had an opportunity to visit the current “command center” in Lagos, Nigeria. This center is where any citizen in Lagos can call for help whether it’s related to fire, police, traffic, environmental issues, or general inquiries. For those in the New York City area, think of this as their version of the “311” system. Our host told us that they can receive as many as 40,000 calls per day, many of which are non-critical issues. But for those calls needed immediate assistance, there is a room filled with people answering calls and routing the call to the appropriate department. Here is a view of the call center:
They also showed us how the process works, from the call coming in, to the routing to the appropriate department, to the tracking of that issue, and eventually closing out the case.
Part of the challenge is that beyond the call center, the individual agencies (police, fire, traffic, etc.) are located in different areas of the command center. But they are starting to build a centralized location within the command center to bring the various agencies together:
It’s encouraging because the government officials we’re working with share the same vision of having an intelligent and integrated operations system that links together all of the key agencies in an effort to build a smarter city. The end goal is to improve the quality of life for the current and growing population, respond more quickly and efficiently to emergency situations, and stay ahead of potential maintenance issues based on historical and real-time data. Several of the local leaders have attending IBM Smarter Cities events and understand the vision. In fact, one of the officials we’re working with (Abdulahmed Mustapha, Director General of Lago State) recently moved back to Nigeria from New York. For the past ten years, he worked on the New York City emergency response team. So he is very familiar with the technologies and techniques available today. I conducted a short interview with him and will post it shortly.
Lagos is in a unique position where they have the basic infrastructure and organizations in place. They have the vision to use technology to improve their current operations, and they have some key leaders with the knowledge and experience it takes to build an intelligent operations system, and ultimately a smarter city (#smartercities Challenge).