Interoperability: from Smart to Open Cities

Smart Cities continue to enjoy extremely rapid growth, both in the development of new systems and devices, as well as their applications within urban environments. According to industry analyst IDC, Smart City initiatives attracted global technology investments of more than $81 billion in 2018, set to grow to $158 billion by 2022. On a geographic basis, the Asia/Pacific region, including China and Japan, accounts for nearly 42% of global spending, followed by the Americas (33%), and Europe, Middle East and Africa (25%).

The three largest use cases, currently representing nearly one quarter of global Smart Cities investments, are video surveillance and public safety, intelligent transportation and mobility, and smart outdoor lighting. Regardless of their dimensions, municipalities around the world are developing smart applications to improve other basic services such as energy distribution and solid waste collection, but also to favor inclusion and encourage people participation, making Cities livelier and more attractive.

In the Internet of Things age, launching any smart solution to manage street lighting, parking facilities, security applications, power grids, WiFi hotspots, etc., requires the implementation of a network infrastructure to connect all related field objects, allow remote monitoring and control, and enable data-driven decisions.

But deploying single-application platforms proved to be ineffective and very expensive in the long run. One of the most important challenges for Smart Cities is interoperability, that is the opportunity to develop a unique, performing and reliable network supporting any kind of urban application over the same infrastructure – the best option to improve City services and achieve concrete, measurable results, while investing for a sustainable future.

How does an interoperable technology look like? First of all, it is based on open standards, thus it is brand-agnostic, allows seamless integration of third-party systems and custom applications, and grants the confidence of a continuity of supply over time.

A collaborative approach among technology vendors, City managers and operators is needed to successfully design and implement interoperable communications infrastructures and data models. Some government programs are going this way – think of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC) – but there are also some promising industry initiatives such as the uCIFI Alliance.

Launched in June 2018, the uCIFI Alliance aims at developing a unified data model across multiple existing networking technologies, including LoRa, NB-IoT and an Open-Source long-range mesh, to contribute to the development of truly open, multi-supplier, interoperable, multi-transport wireless communication solutions for Smart Cities and utilities.

As Paradox Engineering has always been advocating open standards and interoperability, making them a distinctive feature of smart IoT solutions, we decided to join the uCIFI Alliance together with MinebeaMitsumi Group – and we are about to introduce a next generation solution for truly open wireless urban environments.

The future of Smart Cities is about Open Cities, are you ready?

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