Tough: Getting smart city initiatives running


By Phani Pandrangi, Chief Product Officer at Kii

Cities are a vital part of our economic growth today. About 80% of global gross domestic product (GDP) is generated in cities [World Urbanization Prospects, United Nations 2014]. Increasingly, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this is expected to grow to over 65% by 2050.

Of the urban dwellers, one in eight live in so-called mega cities (10 million-plus population) and the rest in cities of different sizes, of which the fastest growing ones are the ones with 500,000 to a million inhabitants. So this combination of economic opportunity existing in cities, plus increasing numbers of people migrating to cities, is helping to drive smart city initiatives.

Economic opportunity

The reason for this growth in cities of all sizes is clear; economic opportunity. But this explosive growth and expansion comes at a cost, with major problems arising like pollution, traffic congestion, public services overload, security concerns and infrastructure issues.

Governments at all levels around the world are beginning to explore how technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to mitigate these growing problems, through smart city initiatives. India is a great example of this, with a smart city initiative of its own, and ambitious plans to create one hundred smart cities, with the mission of retrofitting and redeveloping urban centres and city infrastructures using smart solutions.

Smart city initiatives present a huge opportunity for both government and industry to help reduce costs, increase revenue, and better utilise resources and services, all ultimately contributing to better citizen participation and enhanced quality of life. Citizens will start seeing benefits in the form of digitisation of services, and general optimisation of everyday living; better traffic, easier parking, lower energy bills, and more accessible healthcare.

Benefits and opportunities

The global smart cities market is expected to grow from $411 billion in 2014 to $1,134 billion in 2019 [Markets&Markets]. The benefits and the opportunity are pretty clear, but what’s the best way to get these initiatives off the ground and running?

The first thing to understand is that formulating strategy and execution of smart city initiatives involves several key players, including government, public policy makers and regulatory organisations. But we also need to consider IoT platform and solution providers, telecoms carriers and system integrators, as well as device and sensor manufacturers, network and infrastructure providers, and managed service providers, among others.

The actual list of players varies depending on the initiative, of course, but it is safe to say that multiple parties need to be involved in strategising, executing and operating effective smart city programmes.

The other question to consider is how do you get started with a smart city initiative, and which provide the biggest bang for your buck? There are many different initiatives to consider, and many are familiar to us already, including project for smart transportation and smart traffic systems, as well as smart lighting projects, smart buildings and smart security systems. But there are also smart city services, like emergency response, energy, waste management and many other opportunities.

Differing factors

However, the choice of initiative depends on a number of different factors, such as regional needs and preferences and the timeframe of any particular desired solution. You also need to factor in things like regulatory demands, which will vary greatly from country to country and city to city, as well as technological availability and access.

There are a number of major considerations for smart city programme owners to take into account before getting any sort of project off the ground, and getting started is often the hardest part of the whole deal.

Initiatives can be broad and complex and to get things moving, you have to look for any opportunities to facilitate discussion between governments, policy makers and industry about the policies, strategy and execution of smart cities. Once you have this, the process can begin.

Kii is focused on addressing the high performance demands of innovation in the connected world with an end to end cloud platform optimised for the IoT.


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