By Cassandra Balentine
The use of the latest technologies—including cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT)—extends beyond personal and business use and makes its way to the city streets. Known as smart cities, municipalities adopt these technologies for better management and efficiency.
Smart city initiatives are driven by government agencies/municipality in collaboration with smart service provid-ers. Many areas/agencies benefit from the technology including parking and transportation, utilities like wa-ter/sewer, electricity, law enforcement, and city administration.
Smart City Potential
A recent white paper by ABI research, Smart Cities and Cost Savings, finds that smart city technologies have the potential to save enterprises, governments, and citizens over $5 trillion USD globally by 2022. The white pa-per analyzes the scope for cost savings and efficiency as a driver for smart city deployments, smart technolo-gies, and the IoT. The report was commissioned by InterDigital on behalf of its Chordant business.
The success of smart technologies hinders on collaboration of multiple vendors. “With higher concentrations of people and enterprises in cities as a result of urbanization, smart city and IoT technology, along with new shar-ing and service economy paradigms, will be key for cities to optimize the use of existing assets, maximize effi-ciencies, obtain economies of scale, and ultimately create a more sustainable environment. Automation, AI, along with sensors, data-sharing, and analytics, will be critical in helping cities save costs,” states the research.
Additionally, the report considers the aggregated absolute cost-saving potential for the government, enterprises, and citizens in a typical smart mega city of the future with ten million inhabitants. Key cost savings beneficiaries include governments, enterprises, and citizens.
The report, Smart Cities and Cost Savings, states that governments could save as much as $4.95 billion annu-ally. Street lighting and smart buildings are two areas that could yield savings, with smart street lights expected to cut repair and maintenance costs by 30 percent.
Enterprises stand to benefit from $14 billion cost-saving opportunities, in areas including freight transportation by using more energy efficient transport options, such as drones, robots or driverless vans and trucks, and smart manufacturing plants, according to ABI research.
Further, it says citizens could see savings of up to $26.69 billion per year in areas such as utilities through the deployment of smart meters and micro-grids, and in education with the development of a hybrid education sys-tem—both physical and online.
“While smart cities technologies offer multiple benefits, very significant direct cost savings represent a key in-centive to embrace urban innovation for city governments, citizens and enterprises alike; this allows building stronger business cases with faster ROI, facilitating project approval, and accelerating deployments,” said Dominique Bonte, VP president, markets, ABI Research, in a press release.
The report references a business to business technology survey of 455 U.S.-based companies across nine ver-tical markets conducted in March 2017 in which the companies ranked 11 key benefits expected from imple-menting innovative technologies. “Reduction in operational costs” barely surpassed “faster and more efficient decision making” as the number one expected benefit, with a five percent margin.
“Smart cities are built upon the IoT allowing citizens to reimagine how they work, live, and play,” said Rahim Bhatia, GM, API Management, CA Technologies. “We’re excited to see quantifiable outcomes being delivered across today’s local governments, with application programming interfaces (APIs) playing a fundamental role in seamlessly connecting the critical infrastructure that makes smart cities a reality. If managed effectively, APIs deliver a number of benefits including the secure exposure and reuse of open data, acceleration of app devel-opment velocity, and the expansion of city partner ecosystems, to help maximize ROI and improve decision making across all corners of the new smart city.”
“We understand the important role of smart cities for our future, and this report further reinforces how much these will contribute in both economic and social terms,” said Jim Nolan, EVP, Chordant, at InterDigital. “But the true potential of smart cities won’t be realized if governments, enterprises, and citizens don’t work together in harmony. Doing so will promote the emergence of smart city marketplaces and open platforms, where third-party players are able to ensure seamless integration of new smart city technologies into legacy platforms and systems.”
Curtis Lee Peterson, SVP Cloud Operations, RingCentral, suggests the goal of smart cities is to remove friction between customers and the services using technology, communications, and embedded sensors/IoT to opti-mize service delivery to citizens. “As most people have probably experienced, the number one barrier in city services is communications. Today, many cities have separate communication systems and departments for water, sewer, roads, etc. And they don’t only communicate in person or over clunky, separated interactive voice response systems. People don’t communicate this way anymore. With text, chat, bots, and AI as the new interfaces, citizens could, for example, do all the necessary smart city steps with one interface. Turn on power, water, update driver’s license address, obtain parking permits, and so on, with one interaction,” explains Peter-son.
On the city side, these requests could be managed through a collaboration platform that transcends the typical silos that exist between services and provide a single workflow. “Even more importantly, as services become smarter and more automated, these interactions can be automated as they become available, easing the work-load on our ever-growing cities while providing a method to transition from the old way to the new way,” says Peterson.
Rich Shaw, VP, voice and ccollaboration, AT&T, says unified communications platforms play a role in smart cities, and offer transformational productivity and collaboration capabilities. By migrating their voice and collab-oration systems to the cloud, government agencies can increase collaboration and end-user productivity, de-crease the burden on internal staff—who will no longer be responsible for maintenance and upgrades, and re-duce hard and soft infrastructure cost.
“Looking ahead, unified communications as a service will provide future integration with IoT and Artificial capa-bilities to improve responsiveness to community needs and support more efficient communications,” says Shaw.
Deutsche Telekom discusses an example of a smart city case study in Patras, Greece. The COSMOTE sub-sidiary of the technology company in cooperation of the Patras municipality entered a joint project designed to offer citizens and visitors of the city smart parking and smart lighting solutions.
The project is based on Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) technology. GSMA defines NB-IoT as a standards-based low power wide area technology developed to enable a range of new IoT devices and services. NB-IoT im-proves power consumption of user devices, system capacity, and spectrum efficiency. Supported by major mobile equipment, chipset and module manufacturers, NB-IoT can co-exist with 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile net-works. It also benefits from the security and privacy features of mobile networks, such as support for user iden-tity confidentiality, entity authentication, confidentiality, data integrity, and mobile equipment identification.
To facilitate the pilot NB-IoT program in Patras, specialized smart parking sensors were installed in select, exist-ing parking spaces and smart lighting controllers in select locations. Car drivers are informed of free parking spaces with directions through a mobile application. The lighting’s intensity is adjusted depending on the season and time of day in an effort to reduce the city’s electric power consumption by as much as 70 percent.
According to Deutsche Telekom, the project was implemented in cooperation with the Municipality of Patras and Huawei. The program also utilizes a smart parking application from OTS, LED lighting systems from Kaf-kas, and smart lighting controllers from Flashnet. COSMOTE financed the pilot and provided technical support and maintenance services throughout 2017.
The Future is Now
As the IoT and industrial IoT technologies continue to gain ground, a futuristic approach to city management is attainable. From finding parking to lowering citywide electric bills, networking technologies; mobile, wearable, and sensor technologies; and continuous data collection provide the tools necessary to enter a new era of city living.
Feb2018, Software Magazine