DIGIMONDO’s successful use of the Internet of Things (IoT) has made them one of the sought-after companies for smart cities. DIGIMONDO enables the IoT by helping customers’ bridge the physical and digital worlds with unmatched technologies that solve real-life problems and make the world smarter, healthier, greener and safer. “IoT is not only sensors talking to each other but talking to us humans too. We have designed and developed our solutions in a way everyone can understand and use services enabled by IoT, not just the technical folk,” says CEO of DIGIMONDO Christopher Rath. “The company’s objective from every IoT project is to simplify and remove complexity from the work process.” Christopher Rath has played a key role in implementing IoT within the company and has always remained at the helm of things spearheading major strategy, sales and technical shifts across the company’s portfolio of products and services. Further detailing about how IoT can benefit in Smart Cities, Christopher notes usability and accessibility are two of the highest priority factors for the company, in their solution design phase, which is also of utmost importance in any smart city project. “All city residents can gain from their city becoming smarter and from the availability of new services.”
Smart cities are the future. With the recent surge in urbanization, an estimated 68 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050, according to a recent report by the United Nations. The Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled smart communities are laying the foundation for a sustainable, prosperous future and giving rise to smart cities. These evolving cities are focused on creating a sustainable environment, thus helping citizens and businesses to thrive. A smart, sustainable environment would ensure people can live safer, healthier lives and can work more efficiently. Cities that have deployed IoT-enabled technologies have made radical improvements to public service efficiencies and environmental sustainability. Whether it is through the deployment of smart lighting, smart water metering or smart waste management, or embracing green initiatives that help save energy and reduce urban congestion, smart cities will have a positive impact on people’s lives. With the spending on smart cities expected to reach $158 billion by 2022 (according to IDC forecasts), this level of investment is poised to make notable changes in the way smart cities will be shaped. Sprint, a leader in the IoT space, is advancing the evolution of cities into smart cities through its leading-edge Curiosity™ IoT solutions. Smart community test-bed programs, like that at Peachtree Corners, Georgia, ensure that connected device solutions will take advantage of the next-generation 5G network.
IoT is rapidly changing the business landscape, enabling companies and people to be more connected than ever before. And this trend is set to increase with experts predicting that there will be an estimated 41.6 billion connected IoT devices by the year 2025. Navigating their way through this ever-evolving IT backdrop is Hyrde BV – a portfolio company of the VolkerWessels Telecom Group. The VolkerWessels Group comprises of 140 diverse companies, all of whom are independent, with well-defined regional markets, expertises and identity. Through control and support at the division level, VolkwerWessels pool resources to offer integrated solutions and provide the best possible service to their clients. The newly formed Hyrde company has been making significant strides through its comprehensive ecosystem of IoT solutions. Credits go out to Gerard van den Houten -Managing Director of Hyrde BV – who has been the driving force behind the successes the company has enjoyed so far. While recounting his personal career journey in IT, Houten highlights the challenges he has faced in this fast paced and dynamic environment and shares his philosophy on building a winning team. Excerpts from the interaction:
In an era where technology has shaped the major part of the smart city innovation, companies now have endless opportunities to design new and improved solutions and stay ahead of the competition curve. “However, with great power, comes great responsibility! Innovation and technology should be applied correctly to make an immediate impact and huge differences in the industry. Too often, we see shiny objects with no immediate impact or value,” notes Navin Nageli, President & CEO, Navjoy. Being a passionate innovator, it is Nageli’s vision to transform the smart city industry by empowering companies to exponentially improve transportation operations through his technology firm, Navjoy. The Problem and the Solution: Today, there is an immense amount of technology involved with transportation and a great deal of reliance on IT and public safety for operations of the transportation network. Even so, the major challenges with regards to data and information silos have adversely affected the growth of the industry. “Oftentimes, data resides in silos within agencies across the sectors which can be actionable intelligence to operate the transportation network. Also, there is a lack of information about data and assets that hinders the operators from generating analytics in real-time,” says Nageli.
During the late ’90s, when the internet was still known to the few, a leader had envisaged how the same is going to whip up a storm globally. Maher Elfadel Aboukadir, Chief Executive Officer of Vision Valley, set up the firm as a systems integration company, diversified into telecommunications, networking and information technology industries in Dubai in 2002. Prior to starting Vision Valley, Maher worked with a major telecom operator in the region, building the internet infrastructure and services in the UAE. “The project started in 1994; the same time the commercial internet was at its infancy stage. Since we had no means to do research on the internet, we built a small lab and initiated self-learning on the internet. After establishing internet services in the UAE, the same was extended to other regions like APAC, Europe and USA’s East and West Coasts.” Simultaneously, Maher was also educating the public on the usage of the internet. Maher’s launch of his startup ‘Vision Valley’ demonstrated his bold decision to quit his established corporate life to venture out on his own. “Having only two full-time staff and growing organically to over 300 engineers with operations in three continents to become one of the most successful ICT providers in EMEA was indeed a feat,” notes Maher.
Let’s admit it. Most of us living in cities face parking issues almost every other day. Be it a busy street or a mall or at a supermarket, there’s always that precious time consumed searching for a parking spot. In fact, a survey says that 70 percent of the drivers in cities note that parking is a key component in their choice of travel destination. Now imagine a company that can undo the parking problems using smart solutions. Yes, you heard it right! Wisesight, an Israeli-based firm, has come up with an intelligent parking technology for real-time automatic parking management. This technology, not only enables proper and efficient management of parking spots but, also ensures proper statistical analysis and increases revenues using automatic and efficient payments. Wisesight Founder and CEO, Akiva Armon says, it was the frustration of not finding parking regularly that ignited this idea. “Basically, it all began from a personal experience of not able to find a parking spot and eventually, rooted in a desire to harvest the technology to offer an advanced solution to it.” Adds this technology enthusiast that from a market point of view, the parking mechanism hasn’t undergone any change since the early ’50s. “We have noticed that cities, malls, amusement parks, etc, lack information about their parking resources and their decisions are not data-driven.
Autonomous vehicles are key enablers for the shift from traditional cities to smart cities. They can cut urban travel time by a third and reduce greenhouse emissions by two thirds, implying 30% fewer vehicles in crowded cities and a 40% reduction in parking spaces. Traffic accidents would be reduced by 90% using AVs, significantly improving the safety of our roads. In the coming years, we can expect over 33 million self-driving vehicles on our highways. Smooth incorporation of AVs into city infrastructure is required to leverage the boon of this cultural change, allowing on-demand transportation services for everyone, everywhere. So how exactly these autonomous machines are going to affect smart cities? Let’s find out Autonomous is the future – Fact or fiction?: Companies are already moving towards the era of AV. Google’s Waymo public transportation services using automated vehicles. Japanese MNC, Komatsu is doing a really great job in Autonomous Trucks testing. In 2018, Starsky Robotics became the first player in the self-driving truck game to drive in fully autonomous mode on a public road without supervision. Several companies like Robo-Taxi provide e-hailing services with self-driving cars.
Smart city is a futuristic concept with almost everything automated. By automating the mundane tasks you can have humans concentrate on creative tasks. Also automation will eliminate human errors. Centralised systems would help in controlling the operations at any part of the city from one place. For example, you get a notification when there’s fire at your garage and extinguishing it is just one click away. But with all the cool things associated with the idea, comes it’s fair share of security risks. IoT has given birth to a super connected technological landscape. In this scenario, a smart city is as secure as its weakest link. Because hacking into the weakest node of the network can pave the way to access even the most secure devices. Would Smart Cities come with the power of fighting these threats or this concept will vanish as a mere fiction? Let’s find out. Cyberattacks on the critical IT infrastructure have brought industrial control systems (ICS) to a grinding halt. Abuse of low-power wide area networks (LPWAN), device communication hijacking, system lockdowns by ransomware, manipulation of sensor data and siphoning of personally identifiable information (PII) are some of the factors that question the scope of smart cities. You have to be cautious and for good reason.
A Blockchain is a trusted distributed database system across a large network of users. This allows parties to cooperate to ease processes and transactions. Blockchain makes transactions more anonymous while maintaining security. In simpler terms, a blockchain is a database made up of blocks of information. Each block represents a certain process or transaction that has been made on this network of users. It is shared across a closed private network. The data is stored in blocks that are chained together. Once a block is added to the network, it becomes available for anyone to view. However, it cannot be modified. Now you know why Blockchain is transparent and secure. Though Blockchain is generally used as an encrypted digital ledger, it has other applications as well. Leveraging blockchain into the smart city infrastructure can addresses operational inefficiencies. Smart Cities can make use of this technology to enhance the quality of life amongst its citizens. The quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation, and utilities can be effectively managed using blockchain. Read on to find out how!
Imagine a city has everything that it takes to be called as a smart city; the basic amenities, physical infrastructure, well-planned governance institution and all. Can the city be still termed as a smart city? A city needs a better social engagement. It indicates a development planning of social infrastructure. People’s participation creates a wider scope for smart city development process. Let’s take a closer look at the sectors that create the threshold of social infrastructure; without which no city can be developed as a smart city. Education – In order to improve the student’s level of education and understanding, the concept of smart classroom has become extremely important. Nowadays the classrooms are designed to provide adequate information and knowledge. It is built in such a way that students gather and finds it extremely interesting and engaging. If teachers wish to monitor in real-time the level of their student’s interest, they can collect on the class, department and university. It will help the teachers to monitor and respond to the class level of interest. The various aspects in the classroom will help department or university to understand how various are correlated with the level of attention.
The idea of a smart city has become extremely important when it comes to the context of defining the strength, performance, facility, demography and urban economy. How a smart city would perform? In what ways we can identify a smart city? When it comes to understanding a city in terms of scientific growth and implementing important policies with the right quotient of strategies, it has a tremendous impact on the socio-economic growth of the place and worldwide. Several reports and research studies indicated there will be a continuous rise in the population living in the urban city. Under this circumstance, the present Government needs to tighten the loose ends. The first important aspects are to make all the resources easily available for the people to utilize. Not just basic resources, but when it comes to luxurious resources, the people living in the urban city have first access to it. A person’s mind is extremely inquisitive; they search for the technology that makes their life extremely easy and convenient. In a way, this contributes to the economic and social growth in a city but gives their poor environmental sustainability.
To develop an ideal city that will the future filled with opportunities, it requires a basic economic infrastructure. There are two fundamental goals that any smart city would try to achieve. The first fundamental goal is to create a high-quality living environment with the right investment and planning. And the second objective is to make sure that the development is sustainable based on all integrated models like economic, social, transport, energy, environmental, and more. An objective of a smart city is to provide a modern quality of life that would include the use of innovative technologies to provide cost-effective and environmentally friendly city-life support systems. The growth plan includes making your city the industrial cities with science, innovation, and technology parks, slowly gaining control over the accommodation, people, environment, economy, and mobility. To study the features of socio-economic development, the service sector in the urban economy has created a framework of research on the synergetic paradigm of modern science. They consider the conceptual results of evolutionary and institutional economics, the theory of economic transformation, strategic management theory, and social economy theory.
When all focus is on building your smart city, how can we negate the role of the development of physical infrastructure? The purpose of physical infrastructure towards the development of a smart city is essential and critical. It provides the base foundation upon which a smart city is developed. Due to an increase in population and pollution, our Earth is going through a series of environmental changes. Our world is open to countless challenges every day. To have a smart city, developing smart physical infrastructure is vital. It is fundamentally essential because technology should be intelligently used. Today, some of the critical information technology (IT) companies have provided solutions for a sustainable planet and city, and by far the technology plays an important role in achieving this. Smart physical infrastructure is making our world a better place to live. An excellent physical infrastructure integrated with intelligent technology provides a strong resistance to certain environmental imbalance and shock. When your city is equipped with the latest and modern technology, your strong infrastructure can withstand natural calamities or environmental changes. You take a step ahead to set an example for the people who haven’t thought of the solution before.
The concept of the smart city differs from person to person. For some, a city flourishes with its institutional growth, and for some, an excellent infrastructural development is a definition of a progressive city. To understand the sustainability and transition of a smart city, we must first trace the organic growth in its socio-technical system, which means that there is a need for a noticeable change in the institutional-material structures of the smart city. – “Regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements that, together with associated activities and resources, provide stability and meaning to social life” (Scott, 1995) The three prominent dimensions that need to be carefully considered to order to determine the development of a city as a smart city are as follows: Regulative – A city requires explicit regulatory processes, such as formal rules, laws, policies, protocols, and standards to constitute a developed city. In case if a city fails to comply with these rules, there may have more profound implications in terms of legal sanctions. When we try and analyze how a city can develop based on the above points, we have a fair idea and understanding that the institutional analysis of smart city initiatives would elaborate on the formal dimensions of these initiatives. This should be done in such a way in which they are deep-rooted in urban, regional, national, or even international policy initiatives for urban development.
The Moscow local government is looking to implement an often-discussed idea: an e-voting system built on blockchain. While many issues have been raised (particularly in Ireland) surrounding e-voting and the potential for corruption or data security issues, the local government of Moscow is to plough ahead and test a new e-voting system built on blockchain. Since 2014, the Active Citizen project has enabled almost 2m Muscovites to influence city management decisions and urban planning, but now it plans to overhaul the older online system by trialling blockchain e-voting. Blockchain e-voting means a person’s vote would be timestamped with details of their last vote thanks to the encrypted algorithm, while an illegitimate one would be spotted more easily by a digital system, or even those within digital-savvy communities. Moscow city officials claimed this would make it the first city in the world to implement blockchain in e-voting on such a large scale, but countries such as Estonia have already trialled blockchain-based e-voting for various state services.
Our Start-up of the Week, Kogii, is developing an innovative and feature-rich smart bike light to improve real-time safety for cyclists. “Kogii is a smart light that uses integrated sensors to understand what makes a dangerous road dangerous for cyclists,” Kogii co-founder Karl Roe explained. “There have been many innovations in the cycling industry that improve real-time visibility and safety, but there is very little real-world data that allows us to learn about what makes one road more dangerous than another.” Kogii aims to change that, by collecting completely anonymous data about a cyclist’s surroundings as they cycle. The market: “Initially, we’re going to target cyclists, particularly cyclists who are interested in technology,” said Roe. “Any cyclist that is looking to invest in a really good product is a potential customer. “We plan to expand by conducting a large crowdfunding campaign to really boost the company, and we want to also target governments/councils who will be interested in the data we collect to improve road safety.”
We need to take a human-centred approach to smart cities, writes Christopher Clements of PwC. Smart cities often come with an intake of breath. The very mention can get some nervous people thinking Big Brother state and all actions and movements will be monitored, data will be wide open, and robots will roam the street – some may be genuine concerns. Some cities, such as Amsterdam, have made reducing traffic and street light usage as some of their main initiatives. The concept of ‘smart traffic management’ monitors traffic in real time, and travel time on roads is broadcast to allow motorists to decide the most efficient routes to take. Other cities, such as Barcelona, have also implemented traffic-reducing concepts. Another example is Santa Cruz, where local authorities analyse crime data to predict law-and-order requirements, ensuring police presence is available where it is required at any point. Analytical tools generate lists of places where property crimes are more likely to occur and place police officers in these locations when there are no emergency calls.
Is your city spying on you? TechWatch editor Emily McDaid reports from the latest 4IRC debate, which focused on smart cities and surveillance.
Below, we’ve recapped the smart cities event held on 12 June at Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre.
Host Eimear Maguire said: “Is your city helping you be an active citizen, or is it just watching your every move?
“Some statistics about Belfast: there will be 70,000 more residents and 50,000 more people working in the city by 2030.
“Citizen data should encourage movement for everyone in that city. However, it’s getting harder for people to move through a city as the population grows.
Japanese tech giant SoftBank will be working on some smart city IoT solutions in the Irish capital. Members of the SoftBank team had attended an announcement at Dublin City Hall, detailing the company’s arrival to Dublin City Council’s (DCC) smart city testbed. Vice-president of the global business strategy division at SoftBank, Hidebumi Kitahara, spoke at the launch: “The development of an innovative IoT platform is a key strategy for SoftBank and we are delighted to collaborate with Dublin, with its unique smart city testbed, supported by a cluster of technology companies and an open and collaborative approach from Dublin City Council.” Kitahara said he hoped the partnership would lead to the deployment of technologies to make the lives of citizens and companies easier and more productive. First European project for SoftBank: The partnership with Dublin is SoftBank’s first European IoT outreach project. It already provides a large amount of services to local authorities in Japan and hopes to address the particular needs of the Irish capital using its expertise.
While much of the public narrative around data involves breaches and misuse of private information, a new EU report argues that it could be used in positive and empowering ways. EU Horizon 2020 project Decode aims to reinstate individual control over personal data while also figuring out ways for that information to be used for the common good. Last September, Decode outlined its aims, which would be completed over a three-year period along with European partner organisations such as Nesta. While data has the potential for personal and public benefits, this needs to be planned for immediately, according to the report. The world at large is becoming more aware of the possibilities and potential dangers that data can hold (Cambridge Analytica and GDPR being major catalysts) and governments should be taking responsibility in developing protective technology for citizens, particularly as smart cities continue to develop. A new report from Nesta as part of the Decode project is calling for governments to follow the leads of some trailblazing administrations that are making use of data while prioritising privacy for individuals.
Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto—the entity formed by Canada, Ontario, and the city of Toronto—have shared an early peek of design plans for Sidewalk Toronto, the much-hyped waterfront revitalization project that’s been touted as “the world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up.” Unveiled this week at a roundtable for community feedback, a set of rendered sketches show what Sidewalk Toronto “could look like.” A landscape of high-rise timber structures—a sustainable alternative to the ubiquitous glass-and-steel tower—feature heavily in an area dense with recreational amenities, housing, offices, commercial storefronts, and plenty of public space. A network of smart city pavement is envisioned as a series of precast slab tiles, designed for flexibility. The modular arrangement would allow for faster maintenance and repair and also allow for varying seasonal arrangements. In the winter months, the concrete tiles would also conduct heat to melt snow and ice, and even contain LED lights to indicate changes in road use throughout the day.
TORONTO — Behind a cloak of shrubbery in a gritty Toronto neighborhood lies a brick duplex, the home of Bianca Wylie, a 39-year-old mother of two on a mission to upend big tech’s latest pet project: “smart” cities. In a living room office overflowing with books and baby toys, Wylie settles into an armchair and unspools the story of how she found herself up against the mother of all Internet companies. In October 2017, Sidewalk Labs, a Google-affiliated company looking to make urban life more streamlined, economical and green by infusing cities with sensors and data analytics, announced plans to build the world’s first neighborhood “from the Internet up” on 12 acres of the Toronto waterfront, an area known as Quayside. Sidewalk aims to, for example, build an “advanced microgrid” to power electric cars, design “mixed-use” spaces to bring down housing costs, employ “sensor-enabled waste separation” to aid recycling and use data to improve public services. Wylie’s resume is filled with positions in IT, government consultancies and corporate development. More recently, she’s worked part-time as a professor while volunteering for various “open data” and “civic tech” initiatives. Last November, she launched Tech Reset Canada (TRC) with three other activist-entrepreneurs — all women.
The City of Abbotsford is partnering with an international research group to try to boost innovation and attract more technologically oriented companies. The city has teamed up with the Intelligent Community Forum, which evaluates cities across the world on how “smart” they are. It’s hoped participating in the forum – which included a session Wednesday on smart infrastructure and attracting foreign investment – will help spur growth in Abbotsford. The Smart City Abbotsford will try to create a “how-to book” that evaluates which “smart” infrastructure, digital technologies and other indicators are necessary to compete in the global market. The goal is to create a “Smart Infrastructure Foreign Direct Investment Readiness Strategy.” The project is funded through a $50,000 grant from the federal government, along with matching funds from the city, the University of the Fraser Valley and Telus.
The city has budgeted up to $65,000 of its own money for the program.
John Jung, the chairman of Intelligent Communities Forum, said the aim is to build leadership capacity, increase the city’s ability to market itself, and catalogue its assets, and where it can improve.