To understand better the underpinnings of the smart city
The ongoing avalanche of technology transformation has resulted in big changes to nearly every aspect of city living. This list includes how visitors and residents communicate, consume, connect, and work. And most of it has come at a relatively low cost to the users of such technology. Those basic economics are driving cities to invest in ambitious Smart City initiatives.
The vital connections that matter can be divided into three types: Machine-to-Machine Connections, Machine-to-People Connections, and People-to-People Connections. These types of connections are growing at an astounding rate. As more advanced connections are added, the strategic value will become clearer for the Smart City new business models. Consider where-in all three connections are combined: M2M, P2P, and M2P. This sharpens the focus on competitive differentiation and the creation of new business models. Regardless of the term, the bottom line is that knitting together multiple technology-driven disruptions will create great opportunities for cities and the people who live in them. At its essence, the smart city revolution is all about the networked connections linking up people, process, data, and things. Taken together, they comprise the core of a smart city system.
Physical items that will be critical for Smart Cities include: sensors (e.g. pressure, radioactivity, image, temperature, vibration); consumer devices; enterprise assets that are connected to both the Internet and each other through easy-to-use tools like RFID (wherein a simple tag is useful for identifying an object); and actuators (an object that makes an action, such as turning off an engine or light). Today, things now sense more data, become context-aware, and provide more experiential information to help people and machines make more relevant and valuable decisions. Imagine smart sensors built into structures like street furniture or disposable sensors that are placed on every Smart City poster substrate.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Connections: Information transferred from one machi-ne or “thing“ to another over a network. Machines include sensors, robots, compu-ters, and mobile devices. Often called the Internet of Things (IoT).
Machine-to-People (M2P) Connections: Information transferred from a machine (such as a computer, mobile device, digital sign) to a person, or vice versa. Whether a person gets information from a database or conducts a complex analysis, this is an M2P connection. Often called Data & Analytics.
People-to-People (P2P) Connections: Information transferred from one person to another. Increasingly, P2P connections happen virtually, through video, mobile devices, and social networks. Often called Collaboration.
The Core of a Smart City
Connecting people in more relevant, valuable ways
Today, most people connect to the Internet through devices like PCs, tablets, TVs, and smartphones. In the future, people will be much more comfortable with different kinds of devices, such as a pill that‘s swallowed to sense and report health concerns to a doctor using a secure Internet connection. Sensors placed on the skin or sewn into clothing will provide information about a person‘s vital signs. It‘s possible people themselves will become nodes on the Internet, with both static information and a constantly emitting activity system.
Delivering the right information to the right place, person, or machine at the right time.
Processes play an important role in how people, data, and things work with one another to deliver value in the connected world. With the correct process, connections become relevant and add value, because the right information is delivered to the right person at the right time in the appropriate way. The good news for the Smart City industry is – there are potent new methods, powered by digital tools, which enable the presentation of more meaningful information to consumers, especially geo-located information that becomes more relevant to interactions with a Smart City assets.
Leveraging data into more useful information for decision making
With IoT, devices typically gather data and stream it over the Internet to a central source, where it is analyzed and processed. As the capabilities of things connected to the Internet advance, they will become more intelligent by combining data into more useful information stacks. Rather than just reporting raw data, connected things will send higher-level information back to machines and people for further evaluation and decision-making. The transformation from data to information is important, because it will allow people to make faster, more intelligent deci-sions, as well as control environments more effectively.
Physical devices and objects connected to the internet and to each other, in ways that encourage more intelligent day to-day decision-making
Move towards the smart city
Cities want to become smarter in ways that make themselves a more attractive place to live and work. To achieve this goal, city planners and leaders are looking for partners to provide valuable expertise or knowledge. Recognizing the potential of new technologies, city governments are busy launching various kinds of smart city programs. Most of these cities have built their smart initiatives with two complementary aims in mind: to lower total cost of operations while increasing revenues. City leaders are mindful that one consequence of rapid technology innovation is reducing budgets. Computing costs, storage costs, and connectivity costs are each far less expensive now than they were just a few years ago. Some of the top challenges city leaders face are evident; some are less apparent. The new Smart City industries has an opportunity to participate in the transformation of conventional cities into smart cities. It involves something quite complex which is turning data into wisdom.
The most expected benefits
- Reduced Costs
- Improved employee productivity
- Enriched citizen experience
The Third Era
To better understand the underpinnings of the smart city phenomenon, it helps to look back to previous waves of digital innovation. Because technology, and especially the Internet, continues to evolve. The Internet‘s „First Era“ was about the basics: email, enabling better communication, changing the way we do things. The Internet‘s „Second Era“ was focused on e-commerce. During the Internet‘s „Third Era“ two conditions co-exist at the same time. The first is how immersive social media surrounds us all, at all time, the second is how billions of physical objects and systems are getting smarter through stronger connection, powered by a wave of new technologies.
Residents and visitors of cities now connect with others in ways that were impossible just a few short years ago.
More affordable and hyper-efficient communication is just the beginning. As e-commerce changes daily life, consumers recognize the potential for something on a bigger scale. To date, the Internet‘s Third Era has been characterized by connected objects in the city, such as street furniture, parking meters, traffic lights, and streetlights.
Each of these objects can emit data about operational conditions, providing opportunities for monitoring and management, and remote control.
When the tech industry built out the first Internet, the primary objective was to achieve the best price and performance ratio possible. Issues such as energy cost, power consumption, cooling requirements, and emissions were an afterthought. The new Internet is delivering a much richer user experience, which is becoming more transparent to users. In this next phase of the Internet, the experience will be increasingly mobile and global in scale. Relevant content finds individuals, based on an understanding of location, preferences, and other contextual factors. The underlying architecture of the new Internet is highly distributed and virtualized.
This factor has laid the foundation for a shift to Cloud Computing, which enables IT functions that are far more agile and cost-efficient. The essence of smart cities is gathering and analyzing data streaming from intelligent and connected urban objects. The aim is to generate insights that make things work better and faster.
Partnerships formed by public agencies and private companies aim to extract actionable insights from massive smart city data-sets. For example, Mastercard executives are actively developing public-private-partnerships (P3s) with major cities on multiple continents. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of companies, are busy building the analytical tools that enable big data to become little insights, each being actionable. Some cities in Asia, Europe, and North America are making real headway. These are cities that have formed P3s with tech companies, often making small but meaningful investments in big data analytics. Technology developers and investors have come to understand how cities are more than just valuable test-beds for evaluating new technologies.
Cities may hold the key to the next economy. A fast-growing number of city governments have concluded, by making cities more efficient and equitable, the human future is guaranteed. A growing number of cities are betting that the next wave of smart city technology will change city systems, perhaps in profound ways. For some guidance, they can look back to the technology revolutions of the pre-Internet era.
Betting on transit
We don‘t have the luxury of rebuilding centuries-old systems from the ground up, but we do have the ability to radically change them and transit already has a built-in scale. Millions of people use public transportation every day, in every major city. And, unlike the complex web that makes up cities, transit is a complete, contained ecosystem. Every conceivable touchpoint of a journey exists, from planning to wayfinding, safety, and security; from operational enhancements to advertising, communications, and point-of-purchase. This built-in user base and multifaceted journey open the door for outside investment and innovation. Introducing even a small data-driven improvement that can be immediately deployed onto a flexible digital infrastructure can yield massive benefits.
5 technologies that define the next decade in cities
The next wave of real-time technologies that will define the next decade are software (rather than hardware) upgrades to the city that will nonetheless transform the way we work, play and live in our physical environments –our „brick and mortar“ cities. And these technologies, each transformative in their own right, when used in combination to develop new products and experiences, will have a multiplying effect on the rate of change we see in urban environments.
- 5th generation wireless (5G)
- Computer vision
- Mixed reality
- Autonomous vehicles
- Artificial intelligence
Physical Native concept
Combining the move from digital to physical experiences with the demand for native content gives rise to a powerful new force: Physical Native. But what does native look like in the physical world, and how can brands begin to harness that power? If native in digital is a promoted tweet in your newsfeed or a sponsored post on a website you visit, Physical Native is a brand integrating into your real-world experience your journey through a city, current weather and traffic conditions, the stores and restaurants you visit, and nearby attractions. From discounts to discovery to entertainment, native can help optimize your life.
Advanced data-analytics data is evolving very quickly, in part because of an increasingly affordable suite of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. Breakthroughs in machine-learning are coming quickly. When combined with AI, it will be possible to perform analytics in which are more meaningful for smart city residents and visitors who will want relevant information presented in real-time, whether standing in front of a bus shelter or Kiosk.
Fog computing is a system-level architecture that distributes resources and services of computing, storage, control, and networking anywhere along the continuum from Cloud to Things. The Silicon Valley-based OpenFog Consortium is busy making the case that many smart city solutions, such as surveillance, are generating massive amounts of data. Powerful new tools are being built to extract meaningful insights from edge data. For example, a single camera generates more than one terabyte of data every day. Surveillance devices generate data that must be analyzed in real-time in order to ensure public safety. Traditional cloud-based models used to analyze data are no longer adequate due to latency challenges.
Source: Gordon Feller, Understanding Smart Cities and the Potential Role
Author: Vladimír Levársky, CitySys