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What are the key elements of a smart city deployment?

The concept of a Smart City centres on leveraging advanced technologies to facilitate efficient city management, spur economic opportunities, and address pertinent urban issues to enhance the quality of life of residents and visitors.

The administrative bodies of cities like Dubai, Daegu and Singapore have sought to increase engagement with technology providers and telecom network operators in implementing “smart” initiatives.

  • The Smart Dubai initiative relied on a public-private partnership to pioneer the city-wide implementation of Blockchain to increase the efficiency of government and business operations

  • In Daegu, South Korea, collaborations are underway between the government and local telcos to establish a dedicated Long Range Wide-Area Network (LoRaWAN) to serve applications such as autonomous driving and energy solutions

  • The Singapore government launched the Smart Nation initiative in 2014 with the aim of harnessing the power of networks, data and technologies to improve areas such as security, health, mobility and productivity.

However, the rapid rise of smart city initiatives around the world will inevitably generate demand for robust data management systems, better connectivity and innovative urban solutions.

What role can technology providers and telecom operators fulfil to take advantage of the push for Smart City initiatives?

Apart from offering improved data collection solutions, technology providers and telecom operators should develop open data platforms and support data analytics to generate insights.

Open data platforms have become an important underpinning of smart cities by enabling the aggregation of real-time information from city-wide sensors to reflect traffic conditions, call volumes, etc. However, the building of a Smart City with seamless networks will take more than just having an integrated system of public data – analysing that “big data” will be required to produce smart initiatives.

The potential of analytics is evident in Singapore’s successful “smart” initiatives:

  • For example, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) gathered data anonymously from commuters’ fare cards and used analytics to identify high-demand areas that require increased bus frequencies. Furthermore, the arrival times of buses were also tracked using the sensors installed in over 5000 vehicles, providing real-time information to commuters through apps like LTA’s MyTransport.SG. This initiative has led to a 92% reduction in the number of overcrowded buses as of May 2017, even though the number of daily bus commuters have risen. The average waiting times for more popular bus services have also been shortened by about 3 to 7 minutesAdditionally, the open data platform includes the “Datamall”, which not only publishes LTA’s static datasets but also the APIs for various real-time tracking functions, encouraging private developers and technology providers to co-create applications with enhanced analytical features using these APIs. There is an average of 600 million downloads of transport data per month via the Datamall as of May 2017, and the platform has spawned many third-party transport apps such as SG Buses, SBS Transit iris, and Taxi-Taxi@SG

  • In 2015, the National Environment Agency launched the myENV app, which leverages the open data platform to provide users with real-time information on weather forecasts, PSI readings as well as location-specific updates on dengue clusters. The app has achieved 138,000 monthly active users in 2016, with over 221,000 subscriptions for the 24-hour PSI alert feature.

Exhibit 1 below highlights opportunities for technology providers and telcos across the layers of a Smart City open data platform

However, it is worth noting that while open data platforms and analytics promote and enable opportunities for “smarter living”, the recent Wannacry cyberattacks are a warning on the vulnerabilities of such interconnected networks. As such, enhanced security solutions will have to be formulated to ensure the continued viability and safety of such platforms.

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