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Going mobile in Smart Cities

Rangu Salgame, Chief Executive Officer, Growth Ventures & Service Provider Group, Tata Communications | April 24, 2015
The recent wave of Smart City interest is in large part driven by the Internet of Everything, which is simultaneously creating and being enabled by advances in cloud technology, security, mobile connectivity and M2M.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach. 

The concept of the Smart City is currently experiencing a major revival. In recent months,India has announced plans to create 100 Smart Cities; China has committed $8B US in Smart City development and research firm IHS recently projected there will be at least 88 Smart Cities globally by 2025, up from 21 in 2013.

When I speak of a Smart City I am referring to a city that has deployed or is in the initial stages of deploying ICT (information and communications technology) solutions across multiple functions such as public safety (police and fire), transportation (bus, train and road systems), utilities (power and water) and education (school systems).

I had the unique opportunity to witness the challenges facing the first generation of Smart City initiatives firsthand in the mid-2000s. In a previous role at Cisco I led a team that worked closely with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to develop the strategy and operating model for three Smart Cities to be built in that country - the first of their kind in the world.

The recent wave of Smart City interest is in large part driven by the Internet of Everything, which is simultaneously creating and being enabled by advances in cloud technology, security, mobile connectivity and M2M.

The challenge of connecting machine to machine is a matter of technological flexibility, accessibility in remote areas, and dependency upon one mobile network operator.  As new mobile generation devices fitted with high quality sensors and cameras emerge, their accessibility increases and their reach proliferates.

Cities have a greater opportunity to connect, collect and analyze data for logistical improvements. We see the impact in areas such as traffic tracking to reduce gridlock, as well as in aspirational changes such as increasing citizen participation.

My hypothesis is that mobile operators are very well placed to play a significant role in Smart City enablement.

The first wave of momentum around Smart Cities was plagued by challenges in planning, management, cost and complexity. I'd argue that a more focused effort around proper deployment of wireless connectivity will be vital to networking a city quickly and easily.

Connectivity will be especially vital because one of the most important components in Smart Cities is interaction. Connectivity will link elements, such as smart buildings and public spaces, together and is akin to the human circulatory system. In order for a city to be healthy, data has to flow freely and to the right areas so it can be properly processed, analysed and acted upon. Ensuring the circulation of data to key organs within the Smart City will be the job of carriers and mobile operators.

 

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