How smart cities make room for the Internet of Everything

Highlights of #WhyIOE, a TweetChat with Cisco and others that explored the municipal opportunities to engage citizens through an emerging number of channels

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Cisco says the Internet of Everything (IoE) represents a US$4.6 trillion opportunity in cost savings, new revenues, employee productivity and enhanced citizen experience to public-sector organizations over the next 10 years.

Last week I moderated a TweetChat on behalf of Cisco Systems of Canada about the public sector value at stake (at #WhyIoE). So, like the hashtag says, why IoE?

Although it’s not typically considered in the omni-channel discussion, IP technology, along with sensor networks, the rise of mobility and social media, is helping to lay the foundation for smart cities — along with a few killer apps.

One of these is smart parking. IoE can enable “parking as a service,” which will guide a driver to an available parking spot.

“In Amsterdam people drive 50K’s a day finding a parking spot. Useless KMs …” tweeted Ger Baron, program manager of smart solutions with the City of Amsterdam, who is currently developing the Amsterdam Smart City project.

Smart parking addresses both a revenue source for cities and a pain point for citizens. “Parking services is [the] 2nd source of revenue of cities. Drivers’ searches cause 30% of congestion,” tweeted Wim Elfrink, EVP and chief globalization officer with Cisco.

To get support (and money) for “smart” projects, industry analysts recommend going for easy wins — those that garner publicity and have measureable results. Smart parking like what San Carlos, Calif. is doing is an easy win; it gets results that citizens will notice, and the city can then measure the impact it’s having on congestion.

Amsterdam’s smart city initiatives have resulted, so far, in better sustainability, as well as economic, social and environmental benefits, with improved urban services. And really, it’s just getting started.

So is smart parking the killer app for IoE? It may be for some, but Baron believes there are tons of apps that are relevant to cities. This could be anything from smart waste and lighting to dynamic traffic management.

While there will be leading use cases, such as smart parking, it’s also necessary to build a flexible, scalable infrastructure and network to deploy additional use cases, said Zia Yusuf, CEO of Streetline, a provider of sensor-enabled smart city solutions — who was tweeting live on a Virgin flight at 30,000 feet. In rural areas, wireless technologies could be key to making this work.

Taking advantage of big data through predictive analytics will also be important to IoE in the public sector, helping to turn vast amounts of data into actionable knowledge. The next step will be leveraging big data, said Baron, and cities are not good at that yet.

There are other challenges, too. These include basic operational challenges, such as providing enough bandwidth, as well as issues around data ownership, user privacy and basic security, said Daniel Kent, Cisco’s U.S. public sector CTO.

Openness is key, added Baron. Citizens will benefit from IoE as long as they have access to open infrastructure.

We could see municipalities working together, as well as more public-private partnerships — perhaps even bandwidth sharing. “We are seeing a lot of municipality sharing around cloud assets,” tweeted Kent.

So where is this going? A few decades from now, Yusuf believes cities will “talk” to citizens through smart sensors, which will change the way we work and live.

“In 20 years IoE is more than you can imagine: self-driving cars, predictive health-care and maybe even an efficient gov;)” tweeted Baron.

Here in Canada, we struggle with citizen apathy; smart city initiatives could improve engagement while making governments more efficient in the process. Now that’s smart.

Visit Allstream’s latest resource centre: Enabling Omni-Channel Effectiveness in Retail & Financial Services 

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc


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