The answer is, of course, because that’s what a Technology Vendor wants to sell! Before the products are deployed business outcomes and solution architecture is required. For a Smart City its complex as there are conflicting requirements for de-centralization of Citizen targeted Smart Services; versus centralization requirements using ‘big data’ for more efficient City Management.

Citizen gain value from de centralized Smart Services that place them at the center of a personalized benefit, (as an example Uber Cabs versus Traditional Taxi management), but as demands for some degree of regulation of Uber also show, the same citizens want and require a level of City Governance.

Its proving tough to figure out the details of a diversity of business values for Smart Cities, as not least of the issues is how to include citizens as significant stakeholders. It’s difficult to identify a reasonable, (what ever that might be defined as), cross-section of citizens to play a meaningful role in defining their Smart City requirements. A big part of the problem is the citizens’ lack of knowledge as to what is possible and therefore what to define as one of their valuable requirements.

A potential way to overcome this is to bring into the discussion the new entrepreneurial start-ups that are targeting Citizen centric Smart Services.  (If you are unsure as to what Smart Services are and why this is a game-changing element in the market today read Sell more today its Digital Business, survive tomorrow and its Smart Services). Certainly for a project team, or a workshop, introducing the wide range of possibilities from these Start-Ups will invigorate thinking as coverage ranges from Sports clubs and teams, through to local shopping schemes. The biggest concentrations of Start-Ups targeting the highest value to widest number of citizens are focussed on four areas; Availability of Parking; Optimum Route planning; Traffic Congestion; and Transport Options.

Not surprisingly the four options focus on the common frustrations of citizens in moving around their (crowded) city in pursuit of every day activities, and, like Uber demonstrates with Taxi Cabs, citizens want the focus to be on their personal requirement of the moment. Currently Transport timetables, booking Taxi cabs, even if online, all focus on the management of the resource provisioning, (Bus, Train, Taxi Office, etc), not on the location and personal travel plans of the customer/citizen.

Smart Services can, and increasingly are, being deployed in Cities without any link to a Smart City initiative, but that removes huge amounts of vital planning data from being made available to the City Management. Smart City initiatives must provide a business welcome plus facilitating infrastructure for Smart Services in exchange for the receiving/ exchanging certain data.

CityMapper, a Smart Service available in several major cities is a good example of this, and if you are not familiar with CityMapper then explore it now! To be a commercial success CityMapper currently only offers their service for London, Paris and New York, so sponsorship to add a particular city under a Smart City initiative is necessary. It is obvious why a citizen, or a visitor, might use CityMapper, but conversely the amount of data with real value for city management on where, and how, people are travelling using public transport that CityMapper can provide is huge.

As CityMapper requires the data on public transport operations the scope for establishing a win / win data exchange is clearly large. Public transport doesn’t operate in isolation from other factors; buses are subject to road traffic delays; Sports or other events cause demand peaks, etc. The Smart City infrastructure is not just the provision of high quality connectivity network services, not even about hosting and provisioning Cloud Services; it is also about establishing and facilitating data exchanges between the many participants.

Smart Cities are huge collaboration ecosystems where third party entrepreneurs bring high value citizen Smart Services that encourage Citizen participation in exchange for City management data on scheduled services and analytical data on patterns. All too frequently Smart City Management has been concentrated on City Management generated Big Data analysis for operational improvement, without adequately recognizing the importance of Smart Services ability to both provide and make use of the data.

There are Smart Services Start-Ups that focus on the Smart City Management aspects using a mixture of IoT sensing and Smart Services, (based on IoT), to add new types of data in combination with existing data to introduces new capabilities. Not surprisingly the four focus areas are well aligned to current City Management targets; Urban Planning; Environmental, Waste Management and Energy Grids. However the outcomes created and speed of responses these new Smart Services can bring are very definitely different due to the types and time scales of the data processed.

There is not enough understanding that IoT driven Smart Services transform not only what can be read for data, but the speed and type of reaction that can be made for operational improvement in a Smart City. The challenge is to change the approach from the traditional view of increasing centralization creating optimization through planning, to one of adding ‘real time’ de-centralized localized responses. (Smart Cities – Service level improvement through de-centralization)

Examples of citizen Smart Services, Uber and CityMapper, are not the only way to see, and understand, elements that will/are making up the Smart City ecosystem. Private sector office buildings and businesses are finding their own business reasons for adopting IoT enabled Smart Service capabilities. Deloitte are keen to demonstrate their new head office in Amsterdam called The Edge which uses 28000 IoT sensors to enable Smart reactions to events and activities; whilst consumer adoption of IoT devices to enable Smart Homes continues as an ever increasing upward curve.

All of the above means that a Smart City, like a physical city, requires an Architecture in which IoT sensing and Smart Services play a large and increasing part. That statement could have been written ten years ago, and indeed on searching the term Smart City Technology Architecture three of the most interesting papers on the topic where written more than five years ago; see 1)  2) and 3). There approach, findings, maturity index, together with the case studies are still valid in many aspects and worth reading. The big BUT is that they were written before the advent of IoT and Smart Services started the transformation of Business and Technology.

The summary points of the impact are stark;

IoT and Smart Services change the entire direction of technology, transforming Business capabilities, more importantly changing citizens as consumers expectations.

Government moves using Smart Meters have had less impact on the consumer management of energy than consumers’ own decision to adopt IoT based Smart Home technology to control their heating.

Designing, creating and deploying the next generation of City management already has a look of being built on last generation technology which is unlikely to deliver the transforming efficiencies expected, or even to meet the citizens expectations.



The Next Blog in this series will expand on and detail the following diagram to illustrate a Smart City Architecture that incorporates Smart Services;


Business Research Themes