Cities should focus first on what works, says Itron, as it kicks off smart-city challenge
Cities should focus on what works, and hurry up, if they are to bring intelligence to their operations, Liberty Lake IoT provider Itron told Enterprise IoT Insights.
The company has just kicked off a smart city challenge in the UK, focused on the cities of London and Glasgow, which invites innovators in the hardware and software markets to submit ideas, and have them developed and deployed.
In interview with Enterprise IoT Insights for a major report on the business models at play in the smart cities space, the company said cities can get bogged down in the analysis, and should engage right away in well understood smart city applications, notably smart street lighting.
“Funding smart city initiatives is often a challenge for cities, particularly those with shrinking budgets and aging infrastructure. However, cities are addressing this challenge in a couple of ways,” said Itai Dadon (pictured), director of smart cities and IoT at Itron.
“Cities start with mature use-cases with a proven ROI and business model. As an example, many cities adopt smart street lighting as their first smart city application because the business case is very compelling.”
The case of smart street lighting is examined in detail in the new report from Enterprise IoT Insights, entitled How to buy and sell a smart city – procurement models to make every city smart. Itron puts the energy savings from smart street lighting at 50 per cent per year, with a further 20 per cent annual saving available on operation and maintenance costs.
“On top of that, with mesh solutions such as Wi-SUN, streetlights create the network canopy for other smart city applications, such as environmental sensing, smart parking, and traffic sensing. This approach makes it more economical,” said Dadon.
Importantly, he noted research into the value of major civic IoT-related infrastructure upgrades is a considerable investment in itself, and often takes years. Many technology vendors have already developed or tested architectures that have been field-proven, and applications that have been validated, he said.
“When cities partner with these private-sector providers, most have been able to accelerate their plans and recover time they spent on research, which ultimately means going live sooner, protecting citizen safety and improving their ROI.”
Itron’s new smart city challenge invites solutions to address certain challenges set out by the two cities. Glasgow wants to improve travel choices and experience during major sporting and cultural events in the city while promoting the overall city centre offer.
London, through the City of London Corporation, wants to enhance safety along the River Thames in the centre of town, and specifically solutions that accelerate emergency response times on the river.
Technology providers are being invited to integrate their solutions with Itron’s IoT platform to tackle these challenges. They will receive hardware development kits and engineering support to accelerate the development of Wi-SUN-based solutions, said Itron.
Dadon said the challenge was a way for the company to tap into the developer community to “catalyse innovation and economic development” in smart cities.
“It also demonstrates the strength and flexibility of Itron’s IoT network, which enables a multitude of solutions to address any number of smart city challenges. What’s really exciting about this programme is that these challenges are relevant to almost all cities around the world, and our city partners are equally interested in the solutions provided for the others,” he said.
Applications are open until January 4, 2019.
Itron is already working with Glasgow. The city has integrated multiple city services on a common platform and continues to gather new data to further empower its citizens and improve the city.
In interview, Itron also highlighted its work with Paris in France, which has deployed a city-wide mesh network to connect cabinet-based controllers for more than 200,000 street and traffic lights across the city; Charlotte in North Carolina, in the US, which has a broad ranging energy reduction programme in its downtown area; and Bristol in the UK, where it has partnered on the city-university Bristol Is Open, to connect new sensors and devices to a common network.
“We work hand-in-hand with cities to help them through every step of becoming smarter. We start by understanding the specific needs and challenges. Then we determine with the cities what are the right technologies to use. These are true strategic partnership that last decades,” said Dadon.
“Cities benefit through our support in implementing the architecture and deploying applications that are the backbone of our business and which have been proven many times over in cities throughout the world. For cities, it’s all about gaining certainty that their systems will perform ‘as advertised’.
“But just as important is scalability and flexibility. Cities can’t predict, with any degree of certainty, how quickly their population will increase. They must be able to scale their infrastructure by any increment: essentially to scale linearly with any level of growth and the community’s needs.”