IoT Blog

IoT Blog

Moving from Smart Cities to Smart Communities

by Remy Marcotorchino, Director of Marketing, Industrial & Infrastructure
Imagine you’re in an evening traffic accident in your city’s downtown during a heavy rainstorm. It’s a fairly common scenario that often requires emergency response and closure of a major intersection for several hours. What would a Smart City coordinated response look like in that moment?

Perhaps it would look similar to this:
  • Emergency response teams receive immediate notification of crash and are routed to the scene automatically, greenlighted along the way
  • Streetlights in the affected intersection and the surrounding area are brightened to provide more light to first responders
  • Patterns of traffic signals on alternate routes around closed intersections are automatically changed to mitigate the effect of increased traffic
  • Parking restrictions on alternate routes are automatically extended past evening rush hour to keep driving lanes open to cope with the extra volume, and
  • Transit buses are re-routed and registered transit users on local routes receive automatic notifications to smartphones of alternate stops for the commute home
With even mainstream TV ads presenting an inspiring vision of the potential city of the future, city authorities are paying attention, and there are a number of interesting projects underway around the world. But the reality is that we’re at the early stage of Smart Cities. The initiatives in Smart Cities today are mainly focused in a few key areas, primarily in utilizing IoT technologies for asset monitoring and management. Ultimately, the broader vision behind Smart Cities should be about creating new interconnected services beyond asset management – for example, moving into smart transportation, smart energy, and public safety.

To realize a vision such as the evening traffic accident scenario, one challenge must be addressed: ensuring Smart City technologies aren’t trapped within silos. IoT applications and systems need to be designed to be interoperable and open to communications links between them, while still maintaining the right level of data privacy and security.

Weaving IoT and ubiquitous connectivity into the fabric of our cities, with the data and insights offered, will be essential to how city planners start to build Smart City systems that span public safety, environmental concerns and improved mobility.

Through a common set of standards, we can advance interoperability so that every application can communicate and share data within an open system. This can be done through the following:
  • City planners laying down foundations that are standards-based, open and flexible, enabling citizens to reap full benefits of new developments
  • Use of widely available 2G, 3G and 4G cellular wireless networks, which ensures efficient system rollouts that can be maintained reliably and cost-effectively over the long term
  • Leveraging widely used open source software platforms and application programming interfaces (APIs) so systems can be updated regularly and exchange data as new opportunities arise in the future
As a technology contributor to the Smart City, we are looking to build device-to-cloud connectivity solutions for IoT that enable this kind of interoperability. Open source application platforms such as Legato®, our Linux-based platform, focus on simplifying and accelerating the development of IoT applications for Smart Cities.

Efforts like these will allow for the development of city infrastructure as a whole. They will also present the opportunity to transform service models, allowing cities to interact more directly with citizens and develop into Smart Communities that are safer and more efficient.