Internet of the Things for Smart Cities

In this series of 3 articles I’ll try to provide a critic point of view of the status of the Machine to Machine or Internet of the things for consumers, for industry sectors and for public sector (smart cities) and some recommendations to avoid the same pitfalls that the ICT industry had made many times in the past.

Part 3 : Internet of the Things for Smart Cities

With 3.3 billion people living in cities today—a number that will double by 2050 – the infrastructure of cities and the services that citizens will demand  will require fundamental changes to transform our cities in Smart Cities.

According with this IDC Government Insights study, the public sector’s use of the IoT is still limited but emerging strongly in the transport, public security, and environmental sustainability domains.

Libelium, a Spanish company had comprised in a beautiful infographic, Smart Cities, Internet of Things (IoT) and other sensing applications. Just with a glance you can see all the verticals that are changing with the Internet of Things and understand why it is the next technological revolution. Both the document and infographic can be found here.

In the conference organized by the Barcelona School of Management, led by Antoni Brey, the Director of Urbiotica, there was an interesting discussion about the role played by The Internet of things at present and the challenges it confronts. As for smart cities, he explained that the implementation of technologies for the management of cities must have an environmental, social and economic return and he highlighted Barcelona’s potential to be a pioneering city in matters of town planning. In fact Spain has a network of 41 smart cities (RECI) with many IOT projects that are helping to increase efficiency, improve resources coordination, problems anticipated and information integrated. We expect these cities will experiment a remarkable change—giving rise to a new kind of city. One that gets smarter, faster.

As an active organizer/founder/ambassador of Quantified Self Europe and Amsterdam as well as Mobile Monday Amsterdam, Lean Startup Rotterdam and Singularity University NL Yuri Geest was able to synthesize in this presentation the cutting edge and complete overview of all key cases and examples within the Quantified Self and Internet of Things (IoT) movements across the globe.

No doubt that the Internet of Things is a key enabler for the realization of smart cities as it allows for the pervasive interaction with/between the smart things leading to an effective integration of information into the digital world. These smart things – which are instrumented with sensing, actuation, and interaction capabilities – have the means to exchange information and influence the real world entities and other actors of a smart city eco-system in real time, forming a smart pervasive computing environment to achieve a more livable city.

But in spite that IoT is setting a new landscape of possibilities for fostering new improvements and making cities more accessible, manageable, communicative, and citizen minded, we cannot forget some of the main concerns and issues in Smart Cities related with the adaptation of legacy technologies and the future Internet of Things and with the design of a secure and privacy-aware Internet of Things as well as the definition of new advanced architectures and models for the Internet and its application to smart livable Cities.

Companies like IBM and Deutsche Telekom announced a collaboration to provide an integrated solutions portfolio that enables cities to make smarter use of their services through intelligent data capture and analysis. The Smarter Cities solutions will build on IBM’s expertise from thousands of smarter city engagements combined with Deutsche Telekom’s global Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities, which include M2M solutions integration and advanced network connectivity.

IBM and Cisco are the top smart city suppliers, positioned to become global leaders in the market, Navigant Research says, but there are many other key ICT vendors, Telco Operators and Pure M2M vendors that have embarked on vertical and horizontal strategies as well as a quest to move into a pure or hybrid service organization that will adds real value to our vision of Smart cities.

I agree with Ovum report “Is Your City Smart Enough?” that the advancement of digital cities requires four critical ingredients:

  • leaders who inspire the pursuits of economic, social, and environmental sustainability
  • governments, industry, cities, and citizens who collaborate
  • cities that leverage proven ideas and solutions to build more city for less
  • cities that consciously nurture a vibrant digital society to strengthen social capital and engender digital inclusion.

Ad I will add that it is important that Regulators facilitate the entrance of companies that allow new business models and provide smart cities solutions and services in areas like:

–          Intelligent Transport and Smarter Parking

–          Efficient resource management (water, energy)

–          Building automation and smart buildings

–          Public safety.

Convergences among transportation, energy, and cities will become reality as new technologies emerge to enable a more efficient and sustainable delivery of services consumed in an urban setting. IoT will be a key component that will enable the smooth flow of information, money, and energy among different devices, stakeholders, and systems. IoT will become a catalyst for smart cities to become smarter and sustainable.

But I want to remark that – as Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Yiru Zhong said – besides IoT, Next Generation connectivity, Big Data, cloud and security solutions will be the building blocks of a smart society.

Finally a plea to people who will attend “The Smart City Expo World Congress” event in Barcelona 19-21 Nov 2013, please share with us your comments about the event, the technology and the solutions that you will believe will make our cities better places to live and work.

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