IoT Smart Cities Development Future Vision for Urban

Internet of things recruiting

2018 and 2019 are characterized by an explosion of urbanization with as IoT smart cities development optimizes services to their residents. According to the recent World Cities report of the United Nations over 3.7 billion people are now living in urban areas, while this number is expected to double by 2050. Urbanization trends are accompanied by a rise of the aging population and the emergence of entirely new lifestyle work patterns (e.g., telecommuting).

All these changes are putting extreme pressures on modern cities, which have to cope with the depletion of natural resources (e.g., water, energy) and the support of new lifestyles in a way that ensures sustainable development. In this context, the concept that IoT enables smart cities is a reality, such as vendors such as SIGFOX covers more than 10 million objects registered on its network which currently spans 26 countries.

IoT networks are able to leverage both advanced technologies and a city’s human capital in order to optimize urban operations, improve environment performance, create new sustainable business opportunities and improve the citizens’ quality of life. Smart cities are based on advanced ICT infrastructures and technologies such as high-speed broadband connectivity, multi-purpose low power sensors and actuators, as well as cloud computing infrastructures that facilitate scalable collection and processing of large volumes of data about the urban context. Most of these technologies are underpinning the Internet-of-Things (IoT) paradigm, which explains the close affiliation between smart cities and IoT.

Overall, as IoT smart cities development becomes saturated in terms of sensors and mobile devices (e.g., smartphones used by citizens), they provide umbrella environments for the development of many different smart city applications. The latter can be classified according to two major (yet orthogonal) criteria:

Strategy for IoT Smart Cities Development

 

Given the multitude of IoT technologies and applications in smart cities, policy makers need to prioritize the development of their IoT projects and infrastructures in-line with their urban development strategy. The latter strategy defines the city’s goals and substantiates them based on tangible KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), such as improvements in CO2 emissions and environment performance, reductions in urban traffic and the average time of urban trips in the city, increase in GDP of the city, quality of life indexes and more.

IoT-smart cities development for urban communitiesWith this strategy at hand, technology advisors and city CIOs (Chief Information Officers) can work towards preparing a comprehensive strategy for the tasks that IoT smart cities development requires in terms of the infrastructures to be developed and the IoT projects to be implemented. The selection of projects should consider the application domains that need to be targeted in order to meet the specified performance indicators.

The development of a city’s IoT strategy is usually a complex task, as it should consider multiple factors and trade-offs, including financial, business and technology factors at the same time.

For instance, as most cities operate on quite constrained budgets it’s always important to define projects with realistic budgets, which could be financed either by the city’s budget or as part of public-private partnerships. The latter is a very popular paradigm for financing the usually costly IoT infrastructure development projects.

As a prominent example, the LinkNYC project, which provides New Yorkers with super-fast WiFi for free, is a result of a public private partnership between the city and the CityBridge consortium where Intersection, Qualcomm, CIVIQ Smartscapes and other companies participate.

In terms of technological factors, IoT smart cities development strategy that should specify key technological choices, including:

What lies ahead for IoT Smart Cities Development?

 

 

A vertical applications development phase, where applications in vertical areas (such as energy and urban mobility) are developed.  An applications integration and interoperability phases, where different vertical applications are integrated in order to monitor or achieve city wide KPIs such as sustainability KPIs based on a combination of transport, energy, mobility and water management projects.  An open innovation and citizens’ engagement phase, where citizens and innovators engage with existing infrastructures and applications in order to provide additional social and innovation capital, as a means of expanding and optimizing the operation of integrated applications.

In this landscape, we are witnessing a proliferation of smart city projects in many cities of the developed world. Nevertheless, there are also on-going efforts to improve existing smart city projects and broaden the scope and capabilities of new projects. These efforts concern both technological and non-technological developments and include:

 

The advent of Big Data technologies is expected to enable a new wave of data-driven applications in smart cities, including artificial intelligence (AI) applications, which will emphasize predictive functionalities beyond simple reporting and analytics functionalities that are currently available. The self-driving car falls in the scope of such data intensive applications, since it will leverage large amounts of data from other interconnect connected cars and the smart city infrastructure in order to anticipate the driving context.

Overall, the vision that IoT smart cities development is gradually realized, but much more is yet to come. In this evolving landscape city authorities, technologies providers and other stakeholders are expected to collaborate to develop and execute effective IoT strategies for urban development.

By Charles Moore

Managing Partner | Retained Executive Search Consultant with 25+ years recruiting senior executives and functional leaders for Internet of Things devices, data, and networks.