Georgia Tech Report Outlines Roadmap to Success for Smart City Technology

The white paper delves into the smart city ecosystem to review situations in which emerging technologies bring about radical change to traditional business models and benefits to IoT users.

ATLANTA —The success of smart city technology lies in the ability of organizations and municipalities to understand the intricacies of IoT technology and the disruption it will bring to business models and the lives of citizens, according to a new report released by a Georgia Tech-based working group.

The report, titled “Driving New Modes of IoT-Facilitated Citizen/User Engagement,” sums up the collective opinion of practitioners and researchers vis-à-vis the IoT, underscoring in particular the inherent intricacies of its value chain, the possible roadmaps to success and the critical issues that must be urgently resolved.

One key point researchers made is that IoT deployed in public spaces — in collaboration between city governments, private enterprise and citizens themselves — has a diverse group of stakeholders to answer to. Citizens require transparency and rigorous security and privacy protections, in order to be assured that they can use the technology safely and have a clear understanding of the way their information can be used by the system.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that traditional business models are dislocated by the arrival of the Internet of Things. For instance, thanks to IoT technologies, capital expenditures are now becoming operational expenses through ‘as-a-service’-based purchase options. In addition, a typical IoT solution requires expertise in many domains and forces companies to collaborate and share revenue,” the report states. “Ultimately, IoT will be a boon for cities as they partner with the technology community to support their growing populations and developing domestic and global economies. In the process, cities will transform into Smart Cities.”

The research examined several specific use cases for smart city IoT, most of which revolve around engaging more directly with citizens. Municipal services management offerings, which allow residents to communicate directly with the city about their waste management or utility needs, were high on the list of potential use cases, along with management technology for the utilities themselves, letting cities manage the electrical grid and water system in a more centralized way.

Public safety was another key use case — for example, the idea of using IoT sensors to provide more accurate information to first responders in case of emergency. In a use case cited in the report, Miami-Dade County was able to save water and prevent the theft of copper piping thanks to a connected sprinkler system in its public parks.

The business model for private industry involved in smart city tech revolves around the idea of sensors adding value to existing products and services. Such “digitally charged products,” as the report references them, can be anything from the classic home IoT items like smartphone-accessible security cameras and thermostats, to self-service oil heating systems that can notify vendors when a refill is needed.

Beyond the sensor-enabled devices of today, businesses are arguably most interested in the idea of IoT platforms, software frameworks that enable a wide array of different IoT products and services. It’s not hard to see why — the report cites research from IoT analytics that says the market for IoT platform services is set to reach $22 billion within the next five years. Yet it’ll be challenging to create a platform that meets the needs for security, reliability and transparency required for smart city use, according to the report’s authors.

Municipalities should also incorporate risk management procedures into their smart city procurement process to make certain that adequate security measures are in position for the lifecycle of the technology and look to address privacy and security concerns by embedding design practices throughout the public service delivery process, according to the report.

“Municipalities won’t be alone in this. The opportunity to participate in the financial benefits associated with Smart Cities will drive technology companies to seek solutions and remedies to current challenges,” the report states.

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