Concerns over the sensitivities of data privacy and regulatory compliance are among the challenges to choosing the right platform
Policymakers and chief information officers (CIOs) agree that no single platform will be able to offer the best end-to-end platform solution across all urban domains, according to a new report on IoT platforms.
The study, undertaken by The Academy for Smarter Communities (TASC), found there is a growing interest in open source solutions for smart cities to more easily manage and scale IoT projects. This is accompanied by concern that security is insufficiently incorporated into open source solutions’ current design, though, and critics also questioned the possibility to add it later on.
With many governments around the world carrying out their first IoT projects, TASC set out to provide a comparative study of platforms which were measured in areas such as functional capabilities, interoperability and integration, scalability, security, usability, cost and vendor expertise and city focus.
Vendor lock-ins and limitations on scope for customisation are major concerns, alongside a lack of clarity on data ownership, storage and the “future fate of data collected”, when determining the choice, timing and scale of platform adoption.
Many policymakers in pioneering areas in both the US and Europe consider open source “a universal panacea” and dismiss any proprietary solution
TASC sought the views of authorities in cities considered to be carrying out innovative and leading work when it came to digitalisation, including Amsterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Jaipur, Kansas City, Palo Alto, Reykjavik, San Diego, Santander, Singapore and Tampere. Findings are also based on knowledge shared by smart city experts, private sector enterprises and not-for-profits.
The study revealed that many policymakers in pioneering areas in both the US and Europe consider open source “a universal panacea” and dismiss any proprietary solution. Its attraction is that they allow cities to develop, modify and tailor solutions to meet specific needs and reduce vendor dependence.
Indeed, the most notable difference highlighted between vendor approaches and platforms is the degree of openness and most public and private organisations emphasised the need for an open ecosystem approach.
In many other cities around the world though, the study found that proprietary solutions have been central to projects with high degrees of interoperability and also facilitate open ecosystem collaboration. There are, however, also examples where such systems had locked cities into proprietary protocols from end-to-end.
TASC reported that the majority of cities and communities remain undecided on which approach to take, and most conduct “a handful of pilots”, and wait for results elsewhere.
The report concluded that Cisco and Huawei offer the most comprehensive city operating IoT platform, with the former having taken an open system approach, but there are concerns about vendor lock-ins in others.
Most public and private organisations emphasised the need for an open ecosystem approach
When it came to cost, the technology stack seemed less important, said TASC, with CIOs wanting IoT solutions to help governments to do what they already intended to do at lower costs. It therefore assessed the platforms on scalability and their ability to drive efficiencies.
The study analyses technology offerings from 12 providers: AT&T Dataflow, Amazon Web Services IoT suite, Bosch IoT suite, Cisco Kinetic for Cities, Deloitte CitySynergy, Google Cloud, Huawei Smart City, IBM Watson IoT, Microsoft IoT suite, Nokia Impact, SAP Cloud and Siemens Mindsphere.
TASC is a partnership between corporate innovation company, Rainmaking Innovation, and the DOLL Living Lab, which aims to bring public and private actors together.
The study can be found at IoT Platforms for Cities
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