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How can business capitalize from SMART cities

A SMART city uses digital technology to improve the efficiency of city services and operations. This includes anything from smart meters and intelligent traffic management systems to data analytics to improve public safety. IBM defines a smart city as “one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available today to better understand and control its operations and optimize the use of limited resources.”

[1] One of the main benefits of a SMART city is that it can help improve residents’ quality of life. For example, it reduces traffic congestion and makes it easier to get around or provides better access to public services. Smart cities use various software, user interfaces, and communication networks alongside the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver connected solutions for the public.

Of these, the IoT is the most important. The IoT is a network of connected devices that communicate and exchange data. This can include anything from vehicles to home appliances and on-street sensors. Data collected from these devices is stored in the cloud or on servers to allow improvements to be made to both public and private sector efficiencies and deliver economic benefits and improvements to the lives of citizens.

Many IoT devices use edge computing, which ensures that only the most relevant and important data is delivered over the communication network. In addition, a security system is implemented to protect, monitor, and control the transmission of data from the smart city network and prevent unauthorized access to the IoT network of the city’s data platform. [2]

Features of a SMART City

A SMART city uses technology and data to improve the efficiency of city operations and services. This can include improving public transportation, reducing crime, increasing energy efficiency, and more. By using technology, cities can better understand their needs and make more informed decisions that improve the quality of life for their citizens. Some of the specific features that can be found in a SMART city include:

  • Intelligent transportation systems help reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
  • Real-time monitoring of energy use to improve efficiency
  • Sensors that track air quality and weather conditions
  • Building management systems that optimize energy use
  • Water management systems that conserve resources and reduce pollution
  • Waste management systems that recycle or compost materials


How can Companies Capitalize on the Opportunities Offered by SMART Cities?

There is a bidirectional relationship between entrepreneurship and smart cities.

First, entrepreneurs initiate technological interventions that help cities undergo socio-technical transitions and become smart cities.

Second, the technologies being adopted in cities generate data that helps enterprises explore new opportunities. [3] So, how can organizations capitalize on the opportunities offered by SMART cities? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the opportunities that SMART cities offer will vary depending on each company’s specific needs and priorities.

According to McKinsey’s research, an open big data platform could bring an additional $3 trillion to $5 trillion in value to the global economy across sectors such as education, electricity, oil and gas, and more.

The open data platform has already proven its value in the United States. When the U.S. government opened weather data to the public, the commercial weather industry unlocked an additional $400 million to $700 million in revenue.

This value is generated by the public-private partnership through which companies can access big data to deliver better products and services. [4] Some ways in which companies can capitalize on SMART city opportunities include:

  1. We are developing products or services that solve specific problems of residents or businesses in SMART cities.

Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities (S+CC) are a good case study. They are designed to help cities become more livable, workable, and sustainable. The company provides an end-to-end portfolio of products, solutions, and services, from the network infrastructure to applications and analytics.

One of Cisco’s most notable S+CC projects is its work with the City of Barcelona. Together, they created a citywide Wi-Fi network that provides free Internet access to residents and visitors alike. The network has helped increase foot traffic in local businesses while making public services more accessible.

“The foundation for the future city will be the network and the information it carries, enabling the delivery of vital services from transportation utilities and security to entertainment, education, and healthcare.

As cities continue to expand, effective urban management will require integrated and intelligent network technologies to help improve the quality of public services, drive economic growth, and manage the city’s impact on the environment.” 

Chris Dedicoat, president of European Markets, Cisco:

  1. Creating new business models that take advantage of the data and connectivity that SMART city infrastructure provides.

IBM’s Smarter Cities initiatives use data and technology to make cities more efficient, effective, and sustainable. The company has worked with over 1,700 cities in 48 countries to help them solve a variety of challenges, from traffic congestion to energy conservation.

  1. Working with city authorities to help them develop and implement SMART city initiatives.

Siemens’ Smart Infrastructure solutions provide technology-driven systems to enhance the way people live and work. The company offers a wide range of products and solutions for everything from energy management to transportation.

They did an excellent job of showcasing it during the Dubai Expo 2020. The campus was arguably the best example of a purpose-built, connected urban environment. Siemens had made it a blueprint for future smart cities.

With over 130 connected buildings in an area twice the size of Monaco, Expo 2020 Dubai used technology to make it the most digitized, sustainable, and secure international fair in the 170-year history of world exhibitions. Its smartness hinges on MindSphere, Siemens’ cloud-based operating system, in which data generated by elevators, air-conditioners, lights, and other hardware was linked and brought into relation with each other to obtain new insights and reshape urban living. [5]

  1. It is investing in or partnering with companies at the forefront of developing and deploying SMART city solutions.

One Hitachi Vantara client located nearby a World Heritage-listed region rich in rainforests, rivers, and reefs uses advanced data analytics with AI, ML, and sensor technology to predict when the fruit will reach maturity and reduce the amount of fertilizer and water required for it to thrive. [6]

  1. Staying up to date with the latest developments in SMART city technology and applications and keeping an eye out for new opportunities as they arise.

Hitachi Delivered Social Innovation in Moreno Valley by collaborating with the City to implement a public safety and traffic management solution.

This co-creation approach resulted in the ability of the customer to leverage the public safety and camera system as a foundation to address traffic incidents. [7]

Businesses are increasingly turning to SMART technology to help them improve their operations. Organizations can significantly improve energy efficiency, customer service, security, traffic management, and water conservation by deploying SMART solutions.

Challenges of Implementing SMART Technology

SMART city initiative comes with its own set of challenges. Some of them are:

  1. Interoperability

One of the biggest challenges with SMART technology is interoperability. That is the ability of different devices and systems to work together. In a city, countless devices and systems work together to keep things running smoothly. If one system isn’t compatible with another, it can cause major problems.

  1. Data management

Another challenge with SMART technology is data management. With so many devices collecting data, it can be difficult to manage and make sense of it. Cities need to have a plan for storing, organizing, and analyzing all of this data. Otherwise, it will be of little use.

  1. Cost

Another challenge cities face with SMART technology is cost. Implementing and maintaining a SMART system can be expensive. Cities need to be sure they have the budget for it before moving forward.

Major metropolitan areas are already challenged with replacing decades-old infrastructures, such as underground wiring, steam pipes, and transportation tunnels, as well as installing high-speed internet. Broadband wireless service is increasing, but there are still areas in major cities where access is limited.

Funding for new infrastructure projects is limited, and approval processes can take years. Installing new sensors and other improvements cause temporary – though still frustrating – problems for people living in these cities. Developers can help make installing and utilizing smart technology easier by considering these challenges at the very early stages of development.

By beginning with the end in mind – the full implementation of the solution – developers and tech companies can speed up the process of making our cities smarter by implementing easy-to-install hardware. [8]

  1. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a major concern with all the data collected and stored by SMART systems. Hackers could potentially access this data and use it for malicious purposes. Cities need to have strong security measures in place to protect their data.

To manage the security of smart cities, there is a need to implement measures such as physical data vaults, resilient authentication management, and ID solutions.

Citizens need to trust the security of smart cities, which means the government, private sector enterprises, software developers, device manufacturers, energy providers, and network service managers need to work together to deliver integrated solutions.

Legislation is already being implemented in different nations, such as the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act in the United States, to help determine and establish minimum security requirements for connected devices in smart cities. [9]

  1. Privacy

Privacy is another concern with SMART technology. Since these systems collect a lot of personal data, there is potential abuse. Cities need to have policies and procedures in place to protect privacy.

Smart city projects must be transparent and available to citizens via an open data portal or mobile app. This allows residents to engage with the data and complete personal tasks like paying bills, finding efficient transportation options, and assessing energy consumption in the home. [10]

Final Thoughts…

Digital transformation is critical for businesses to remain competitive, and this is especially true when it comes to collaborating with the government on SMART city initiatives.

Business leaders know they have to get ahead of this big digital transformation trend, but choosing a path and developing a strategy is often the hardest. While cities plan their transitions to a smart future, businesses must forge partnerships based on the inherent value they can offer an evolving urban area.

It’s one thing to think about a new product or service that will fill consumer needs—it’s something entirely different to align that vision with the macro-level smart city vision. [11]

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[1,2]. TWI Ltd, What Is A SMART City? 

[3]. Rama Krishna ReddyKummitha, Science Direct, December 2019, Smart cities and entrepreneurship: An agenda for future research

[4]. Scott Harper, Dialexa, The Business Opportunity of Smart Cities

[5]. Matthias Rebellius, Managing Board Member of Siemens AG and CEO of Smart Infrastructure, Forbes Magazine, 6th December 2021, Expo 2020: Blueprint for Smart Cities and A Better Life

[6]. Gajen Kandiah, CEO of Hitachi Vantara, Forbes Magazine, 21st June 2022, How Data Will Drive Sustainability Forward

[7]. Case Study, Social Innovation, Hitachi

[8]. Sydney Stone, UBIDOTS, 25th September 2015, Key Challenges of Smart Cities & How to Overcome Them

[9,10]. TWI Ltd, What Is A SMART City?

[11]. Scott Harper, Dialexa, The Business Opportunity of Smart Cities

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