Solutions providers will tell you Smart Cities are all about parking, smart lighting, or anything to do with technology. City officials may tell you the definition of Smart City is conducting city business online, such as searching records or applying for permits. City residents may say it is about reduced pollution, heightened public safety, or the ease of getting around. A successful Smart City holds different values for different stakeholders.
We caught up with Bob Mazer, co-founder of Smart City Works, an “incubator and actuator” that helps start-ups and businesses commercialize technologies, is engaged by US and local governments to architect collaborative projects, and builds Smart Cities based on outcomes, leveraging technology.
“Smart Cities, and more and more Smart Regions, cannot succeed without rich and comprehensive ecosystems,” Mazer said. “Our ecosystem has developed over many years and grows each year to include partners across higher ed, government agencies, non-profit and civic organizations, construction companies, architectural and engineering firms, cloud providers, data centers, communications service providers, cybersecurity experts and, of course, IoT and Industrial IoT companies. Smart Cities can be extremely complex and daunting to start, but over the last five years, we’ve seen orchestration and interoperability, standards and collaboration take the risk out of projects, and establish blueprints for future projects.”
Mazer agrees that it may be impossible to come up with a universal definition of what comprises a Smart City. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) envisions a smart city as one that brings together technology, government, and society to enable the following characteristics: a smart economy, smart mobility, a smart environment, smart people, smart living, smart governance.
Wikipedia says, “A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic Internet of things sensors to collect data. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve the operations across the city. Smart Cities and related Smart Regions are living projects with a lot of moving parts, and based largely on the problems specific communities have that can be solved with more connectivity and – importantly – more big data and analytics. As we move into the era of more sophisticated and powerful edge compute, as 5G and LTE becomes more pervasive, and as decision-makers start to see the tremendous ROIs being proven out every day in Smart Cities around the world, funding is opening up, so as the outcomes are identified, more and more benefits can be layered in, especially when the foundation infrastructure is solid.”
Mazer gave as an example of this the coordination of projects which bridge the physical and digital world, saying “We’ve been very successful in the world of Smart Digital Infrastructure, and have held events with the Infrastructure Week non-profit over the last few years, working with many different stakeholders to ensure that when a new bridge is built, it has embedded in its architecture digital solutions. Having the sensors, actuators, gateways, mesh networks, long-haul networks, edge, and cloud computing capabilities budgeted at the same time as physical infrastructure projects ensures dramatically improved operation and cost efficiencies. We’ve had companies in our cohorts who embed sensors into concrete to measure traffic, vibration, and more.”
Mazer said the most successful smart city projects have representation and coordination among all the required layers. “While technology is a critical enabler, it is just one of the many capabilities that every smart city must-have. Large scale projects include services for residents and visitors, mobile enablement with those services working with smart devices and smart homes, innovation layers for ongoing creation of value as community members lives become increasingly digitally-led, and governance, management, and operations layers. We cannot evaluate or manage what we don’t measure, so metrics truly becomes the lifeblood of successful, sustainable, connected cities, and regions.”
Mazer is joining a panel on Digital Transformation with Edge AI at ZEDEDA’s first industry conference scheduled from 9 am to 3 pm Pacific Time on Wednesday, August 19. Transform is a FREE virtual event that is open to the public, and in addition to Bob features analysts and influencers including Stephanie Atkinson (Compass Intelligence), Harry Forbes (ARC Advisory), Stacey Higginbotham (Stacey on IoT), Evan Kirstel (eVira), Leonard Lee (neXt Curve), Dave McCarthy (IDC), Daniel Newman (Futurum), Dilip Sarangan (Frost and Sullivan), Richard Soley (OMG), Rob Tiffany (Ericsson).
To join the event and get more information on the schedule and speakers, go to https://hopin.to/events/zededa-transform .
Edited by Ken Briodagh