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Industrial Internet of Things

What it takes to be a 'Smart City'

Published on 12/29/2016 | Strategy

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Morry Morgan

Morry is a true international executive, having studied and worked in multiple countries across the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, China and Singapore.  Speaking both English and Mandarin, and having worked in the fields of medical science, management consulting, and high-tech, Morry is able to bridge the unique cultural differences across both industry and geography, simplifying messages and focusing on key issues and pain-points. Morry is also a recognised 'Sales Guru', and has consulted the largest firms in the world, as well as developed  In his role as Head of Sales for Asia-Pacific at H3 Dynamics, he is responsible for selling complex analytical solutions and enterprise software solutions related the intersection of Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) industries.

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Overview

IT MAY COME AS NO SURPRISE that this year Singapore (shown above) was named Global Smart City. The city is a metropolitan marvel that supports 5.4 million inhabitants, within a concrete and actual jungle, and even boasts a reservoir within the CBD; one that incredibly supplies 10% of Singapore's water needs.

Singapore was listed ahead of Barcelona, London, San Francisco and Oslo, with 'technology', 'transport', 'energy' and the 'economy' all main themes within the Worldwide Smart Cities white paper, produced by Juniper Research. So too was 'open data'. But then again, 'openness' is easier for some cities than for others. Faith in the government is high in Singapore, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the Smart Nation program in 2014. Since its launch, the small island city-state has deployed an undetermined number of sensors and cameras across the country that has allowed the government to monitor cleanliness of public spaces, the density of crowds, and even in the not so distant future, the precise movement of every locally registered vehicle.

Very smart, but a bit too 'Big Brother' perhaps?

The upside of such a monitored society is Singapore's low crime rate - ranked 118 out of 119 countries. Smart cities are safer cities. This is certainly the belief driving India's own '100 Smart Cities Initiative'. Within it's 10 core infrastructure elements is included "safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly."

India is serious about creating smart cities, and this endeavour is being supported by IBM. This year, three Indian cities (Allahabad, Surat and Vizag) were part of 17 international cities selected to benefited from IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. The program, initiated by IBM in 2010, has since deployed over 800 top experts and has helped more than 130 cities around the world 'do more with less', 'bridge silos of information', 'grow civic engagement with the community' and 'make better investment decisions in infrastructure'. According to IBM, these are the main talking points that make a smart city.

And when IBM talks, others listen, because this drive to become smarter is a fantastic business opportunity.

One such company that is betting on the smart city trend is HERE. The company, co-owned by German auto giants Audi, BMW and Daimler, includes the consumer app, called Here WeGo, that converts data to provide up-to-the-minute information on current traffic conditions and incidents, much like Google Maps.

However, where HERE differs from Google is with its smart city, next generation automotive services. Through the 'Internet of Things' (IoT), data created by one vehicle, for example, by heavy breaking before a pothole in the road, is shared across the vehicle network, warning other drivers of the upcoming road hazard.

 

Tips:

The upside of such a monitored society is Singapore's low crime rate - ranked 118 out of 119 countries. Smart cities are safer cities. This is certainly the belief driving India's own '100 Smart Cities Initiative'. Within it's 10 core infrastructure elements is included "safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly."

India is serious about creating smart cities, and this endeavour is being supported by IBM. This year, three Indian cities (Allahabad, Surat and Vizag) were part of 17 international cities selected to benefited from IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. The program, initiated by IBM in 2010, has since deployed over 800 top experts and has helped more than 130 cities around the world 'do more with less', 'bridge silos of information', 'grow civic engagement with the community' and 'make better investment decisions in infrastructure'. According to IBM, these are the main talking points that make a smart city.

And when IBM talks, others listen, because this drive to become smarter is a fantastic business opportunity.

One such company that is betting on the smart city trend is HERE. The company, co-owned by German auto giants Audi, BMW and Daimler, includes the consumer app, called Here WeGo, that converts data to provide up-to-the-minute information on current traffic conditions and incidents, much like Google Maps.

However, where HERE differs from Google is with its smart city, next generation automotive services. Through the 'Internet of Things' (IoT), data created by one vehicle, for example, by heavy breaking before a pothole in the road, is shared across the vehicle network, warning other drivers of the upcoming road hazard.

 

Modern cars have a myriad of onboard sensors, measuring everything from braking, windshield wiper speed, GPS and even use of hazard lights. HERE takes this assortment of independent data, and combines it through the IoT and data analytics to create, what it refers to as 'cooperative mobility'. The outcome is a smarter car, smarter road network, and ultimately a smarter city that can boast smoother traffic, reduced congestion and accidents, less frustrated drivers, and very soon fully autonomous vehicles.

Which brings us back to Singapore, and the location of the world's first self-driving taxis that are already picking up passengers. In August this year, selected members of the public were able to hail free taxis via their smartphones, and travel within a two kilometre block. While multiple companies, including Google and Volvo, have been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years, nuTonomy is the first to offer rides to the public. It even beat Uber by a few weeks, which now offers rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh.

For now, Singapore's nuTonomy taxis are only operating within a small business and residential district called 'one-north', beside the National University of Singapore (NUS). Pick-ups and drop-offs are limited to specific locations, and while the car is autonomous, just like Uber's Pittsburgh study, a standby driver is present - for now. By 2019, another player in the autonomous vehicle race, Delphi Automotive, plans to enter the 'shared economy' in Singapore and eliminate drivers completely, as well as steering wheel and pedals. Delphi is already planning for a 100% driverless taxi fleet of 50, which could reduce an average $3-a-mile ride to only 90 cents.

This movement from an 'owned' to 'shared' economy, it would appear, is a smart city prerequisite. The Nokia-sponsored report, The Smart City Playbook by Machina Research, includes 'shared' within its six 'Ss' for a smart city's success, alongside smart, safe, sustainable, secure, and scalable. The report was based on a study of 22 cities of varying sizes and geographies at different levels of planning, testing and deployment.

The challenge of 'shared' is that it requires an open partner ecosystem allowing for a diverse mix of technology vendors, application developers, service providers, system integrators, utility companies, research institutions and many others. For this reason, smart cities must also have smart leaders.

Creating smart cities requires budgeting, planning, negotiating, and of course a deep understanding of human behavior. Technology serves a role, to a point, after which human decision making is necessary. And good decision making is only possible when all the information is 'shared' - meaning intra-agency politics and competitive business-to-business behavior must be minimised. That requires smart leadership. Once shared, however, simple data becomes incredibly powerful, because it can lead to cost savings, increased efficiencies and ultimately a stronger economy.

Which is what Singapore needs right now. A slump in oil prices as well as in global seaborne trade has greatly affected the island-nation's exports. Imports remain high, with the tiny nation importing over 90% of the food that its citizens consume. But this isn't why Singapore subscribes to IBM's Smarter City Challenge of 'do more with less'; this has always been Singapore's mantra. It's already investing in high-tech, indoor farming, that is able to produce about 54 tonnes of vegetables a year from as little as 344 square metres. And with vertical gardens, the sky is literally the limit.

With most of The Smart City Playbook's 'Ss' ticked off, it's only 'sustainability' that Singapore needs to overcome in order to become the unquestioned Global Smart City. But mark my words, "Grown in Singapore" is coming to a green grocer near you!

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

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