By Kory Korir,
Ambition is a nice thing. When as Africans we talk about being tech savvy, some misinterpret the aforementioned for introduction of countless expensive technology whose performance can be matched and even surpassed by a much cheaper way of doing the same.
Mark my words, I am not refuting the introduction of drones, my main worry is the timing of it. Before drones are deployed, legislative processes need to be put in place, a spatial and non-spatial data infrastructure need to be laid out which will help he drones in navigation. In my opinion, drones are secondary. There are cheaper ways in which parking in the city can manage parking fee collection. A combinatorial approach which will not only help the county government in collection of revenue from parking but also give information to motorists on where exactly they can park their vehicles. This can be easily done through use of geospatial technologies and create web portals, 2D and 3D visualizations that will help the country government better manage the city. There are good papers and projects that have been done in universities on the use of aforementioned technologies to help in parking management which can also extend to providing solutions to reduced congestion in the city, but Kenya being a country whose interests in Research and development is low, they prefer to import alien blueprints at the expense of locally generated solutions.
Today, in Nairobi, there are many traffic cameras that have been installed in almost all the roads, there are CCTV cameras. This is enough for parking fee collection, if by any chance they are well managed.
Quoting from the Standard Newspaper, Web Tribe CEO Mr Muchemi talked about using drones to determine the number of the cars parked in a given parking and crosschecking the data against the days’ collection that way the motorists who would not have paid would be known. What we really want to know is how the aforementioned can be achieved. To my knowledge, drones are not stationery and their movement renders the whole parking surveillance process a failure because of the loopholes created when the drones move around and if by any chance several cars park in quick succession in a single parking slot. Another issue about the same is the Drone flight time. The drone with the longest flight time in the market is DJI Mavic pro with a flight time of 27mins. So is this really efficient and practical?
Mr Muchemi also talked about creation of “an aerial imagery compliance module”. We would like to know which module it is and how the information is collected and georeferenced and such. In my opinion, that would not be the right phrase to use but if it is something to do with “a GIS and GPS based system” then we would be a bit convinced of its practicability. We are in a city and world that is becoming smarter each day where millions and trillions of data is being churned out each day. That way we need to create ways in which such data can be turned to meaningful insights through enough research and development initiatives. .
There is a dire need of involving professionals and carrying out intensive consultations in most of the projects the county governments and the national governments alike want to venture in. We always have technology at our disposal but we fail to fully exploit them but in turn ask for more sophisticated ones. A systematic approach should be applied as we try to solve these pertinent problems that our cities are facing in the quest of developing a smart city. Drones are a great technology whose use should not be appended to parking fee collection but an area that more suits their use like security and gathering of information to be used for decision making. If we need a 24/7 kind of surveillance then use of drones is dispensable.