More cities are adding smart city features so that Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and other connected technologies can improve the lives of citizens and visitors. As everyone knows, technology moves fast and finding out what's in store next is crucial to stay in the game.
The concept of a smart city has been around for more than a decade, but it was only recently that the phrase "smart city" became part of the modern lexicon. The trend toward adding smart city technology began in Europe, with Barcelona, Spain one of the earliest adopters. Dubai, Singapore, Hamburg, and Copenhagen quickly followed suit. In the US, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Denver are among those that added intelligent tech early on, and now there are cities around the globe adding new tech to streamline everything from traffic, parking, and streetlights, to public utilities, safety, and city services.
There are several major themes expected to take precedence in 2017. TechRepublic talked to smart city experts to get their opinions on what's likely to happen in the next 12 months as the chasm is crossed from early adopters to early mainstream in the US.
More cities are seeking an integrated, cross-cutting approach to develop technology and share information. "They realize the cost and danger of doing smart city projects piecemeal on a department-by-department basis. They want to share infrastructure, share costs, and share data between departments. As part of an integrated approach, cities will be seeking multi-purpose platforms instead of single-purpose, custom applications. They wish to have hardware, software, and tools that can be used by multiple departments," said Jesse Berst, chairman of the Smart Cities Council.
This is happening with varied departments such as the police, street maintenance, and IT, depending on the city and the needs of citizens. When one IoT sensor sends information to a department, the data is only valuable if the right person sees it. Finding out through a sensor that there is a gunshot on a city street means that the city services department that monitors the sensors on the streetlight must be able to relay that information to a 911 operator.
"This only makes sense when you consider that IoT normally sits at the cross section between operational technology and information technology. That gunshot detection system mounted in the streetlights needs strategic, operational, and financial consideration from multiple parties," said Don DeLoach, president and CEO of Infobright and part of the Illinois Technology Association's IoT Council.
Berst said that more cities will be seriously considering cloud option and X-as-a-Service, including Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service, but procurement regulations are holding them back.
"Next year, many cities will begin to address the policy changes needed to be able to move to the cloud," Berst said.
In the state of Illinois, on October 1, the need for individual cities to file a Request for Proposal (RFP) for tech was eliminated with the creation of a statewide RFP for each type of tech, as previously reported in TechRepublic.
Not only will silos be eliminated within city departments, but cities will work with other municipalities to share information and technology.
"As IoT becomes mainstream, we are moving from a time when cities who were putting money on IoT initiatives were the "leaders" in advancing smart cities, to a time where the cities not investing in smart city solutions are the ones being left behind. As this happens, we are seeing more and more collaboration amongst cities, where a lesson learned in Rio may have an impact on an upcoming project in Atlanta. We should see this increase in 2017," DeLoach said.
Collaboration between cities and private industry is picking up as well, as cities and companies recognize there are opportunities to come together where everyone benefits, he said.
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