Smart cities is a term we keep hearing. A term that seems to bubble to the surface when discussions about Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things), driverless cars, and 5G are thrown about the blogosphere and the telecommunications industry news. As those of us who are familiar with cities, they can be a place of chaos, congestion, and confusion.
So, what is it we think of when we hear Smart City? On the surface we can think of a Smart City as an urban area that uses a multitude of electronic data collection sensors and tools. The goal is to manage assets and resources and efficiently provide services based on the data collected. Information can be gathered on citizens and their habits, manage traffic and transportation systems, power, water supply, Police and Fire departments, public works, schools, hospitals, libraries, recreation and parks, and hospitals. All these very different functions representing different needs. Also leading a lot of the discussions are Green Energy.
The demand for clean and renewable energy and faced with the undeniable climate change data, it has municipal leaders looking for solutions. This can all be a very challenging space to navigate.
“The World’s Cities” published by the UN in 2016 states the following.
“In 2016, an estimated 54.5% of the world’s population lived in urban settlements. By 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60% of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.”
At the Intersection
Definitely a trend, and the telecommunication industry is certainly paying attention. At the intersection of Smart Cities you have the large global hardware manufacturers such as IBM and Cisco to name a few, who see cities as huge potential markets, all of whom hope to profit from big municipal contracts.
At the intersection we have municipal leaders and managers who are looking for solutions for the many departments they manage and services they provide. Looking to the promise of Big Data and IoT to move their City into the future.
Here we see the gap. Hardware makers don’t know a thing about running a city, and most often city leaders and managers don’t know technology and hardware. Yet both parties yearn to be “connected” and benefit from promise of Big Data.
Also at the intersection are the CSPs (Communications Service Providers) who, rightly or wrongly are often looked to, to integrate the technology and solutions. This is not part of their core business, but maybe it should be. As mentioned above, cities are dynamic, bustling, thriving and living entities. There is no one solution to fit all. Because of the breadth of services and departments in the running of any city, there will be multiple players vying for the business these cities provide.
A fast reliable Network is what will be needed to connect and run these Smart Cities. Where the rubber meets the road so to speak. The CSPs and their partners are uniquely positioned. There is a tremendous opportunity to consult with municipalities and work with them. Communities are about people and quality of life. CSPs are already integrate on a customer level with the communities and without doubt, have a large amount of data to which to tap into. CSP have an opportunity to work with community leaders and managers and bring their expertise and resources to bear in integrating the technology and the communities.
Smart CSPs and their partners will leverage their networks, data, expertise, and look towards municipalities as another partnership and potential revenue stream where all parties can benefit. Smart Cities will need smart people and smart companies and partnerships. Instead of a four way stop intersection, maybe an efficient round-about is needed where ideas, technology, policy, and people can flow.
By Doug McCluskey, PTech, Network & Broadband Specialist Missing Link Technologies Ltd.