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Smart cities look to the future, by Nagayoshi Nakano, research vice president at Gartner

CIOs focused on smart cities should plan infrastructure to support the IoT

Smart cities look to the future, by Nagayoshi Nakano, research vice president at Gartner

Most citizens might view a streetlamp as just a streetlamp, but to a city planner in a smart city, a light post is an opportunity to build a framework for optimising city operations such as environment, transportation, and safety and security.

Urban challenges such as safety and security, traffic congestion, aging infrastructure, and even responses to events like climate change and disasters, have often been addressed by silo-based departments. However, more and more city governments are moving toward smart city solutions that leverage IoT technologies. Smart city strategists and urban planners need to implement the solutions that make it possible to utilise the data collected from various kinds of devices for holistically optimising city operations.

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Smart City Technologies and Solutions, 2016, revealed that CIOs and urban management leaders have embraced the smart city idea for infrastructure and service delivery, despite the technological challenges. CIOs must leverage context-based data from different city infrastructures to develop sustainable and forward-looking business and citizen services, while optimising city operations.

In the 2017 Predicts report, Gartner shares some recommendations for smart city implementation.

By 2020, ten per cent of smart cities will use streetlamps as the backbone for a smart city WAN.

Cities switching from conventional streetlamps to LEDs presented an interesting opportunity for smart city CIOs to utilise the new lamps’ already connected status. Most LED streetlights have some form of connectivity, usually to monitor the lamp and meter the power. It’s not a very strong connectivity; generally they have low bandwidth and limited communication. However, the simple fact that they offer connectivity means CIOs have a unique opportunity to create a citywide WAN using streetlamps. This would actually supply more bandwidth to the streetlamps, which allows for more sophisticated streetlamp technology such as video, and creates a network. It solves the immediate problem of streetlamp connectivity, but also lays the groundwork for future smart city projects. This will reduce the need to have multiple networks within the smart city infrastructure, and eliminate each future projects from having their own WANs.

CIOs should ensure that they have enough bandwidth to support all conceivable smart city programmes, or the ability to add at a reasonable cost. It’s also important to plan where the streetlamps will be built to ensure constant connectivity. Work with the city streetlamp vendor and plan for any projects that might arise in the coming ten to twenty years.

By 2020, thirty per cent of smart cities’ ambient care applications, related to, for example, medical/healthcare/nursing care, including proactive care, will have introduced smart machines and robotics in nursing care and medical facilities.

City planners are tasked with issues surrounding medical, healthcare and nursing issues. Smart cities, which offer ambient care solutions, provide innovative opportunities in these industries. For example, IoT technologies such as sensor devices and big data analytics can monitor patients’ locations and conditions. Other ambient solutions involve smart machines such as robotics that enable patients to move where they need to go safety, while reducing caregiver workload.

Technologies such as walking support robots for rehabilitation have been introduced at 200 locations in Japan, and psychological care assistance is appearing across the world in nursing and medical facilities. Future iterations of this technology will allow for autonomous-basis (proactive care) rehabilitation.

CIOs should develop a communications plan to introduce these types of smart city ambient care solutions that optimise therapeutic performance.



Nagayoshi Nakano is a Research Vice President in Gartner’s Internet of Things (IoT) Center of Excellence, responsible for the research areas of smart city and IoT technology trends in the context of smart city in Japan and Asia/Pacific.


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