BBWF 2018: Open data is the key to nailing smart cities

In an entertaining session at Broadband World Forum, a common theme emerged; open data, which is a key component of any successful smart city programme.

The format was an interesting one. Four smart cities were given seven minutes to explain their proposition, and then three minutes to answer questions. Featured were Milan, Athens, Helsinki and Amsterdam, though thanks to your correspondent getting lost on the show floor, the Amsterdam pitch was missed and will not get the attention it deserves. That said, the common theme throughout was open data.

Starting in Milan, data is being used to create a hub of intrigue for start-ups. There isn’t necessarily a focus on segment or vertical, more a top-line ambition to create jobs and value for the economy. As part of the initiative, more than 300 data sets have been made available for citizens and businesses to create new applications and services. Looking at the numbers, the scheme should be deemed a success.

There are currently 1600 start-ups based in the city, out of the total of roughly 8000 across the whole of Italy. 10,000 people are directly employed (or own) start-ups, 80% of which survive the first two years of operation, the most dangerous time for any business. These are certainly promising numbers.

In Helsinki the message is the same. The Mayor has an ambition to create the world’s ‘most functional city’ through digital, with tourism a key factor. Part of this story is opening data up to the community and local businesses to create value.

Finally, over in Athens, open data has been used in a different way. Thanks to financial difficulties in Greece, governments are not trusted. This makes it incredibly difficult to launch new schemes, though by opening up data to the general public and businesses, Konstantinos Champidis, the Chief Digital Officer for Athens, said the team are regaining credibility. The aim here is not only to try and help those citizens create something new, but develop a culture of transparency to regain the trust.

Trust is a key element in these smart cities strategies, as while open data does fuel innovation, the data has to be sourced in the first place. Should citizens not be open to having information about them or their activities collecting and analysed, the whole concept of the data economy runs dry.

We’re sure the presentation from the city of Amsterdam was equally as interesting as the three we saw, but the theme was plainly clear here; open data is a critical component of the smart cities mix.

Exeter and Leeds win National Infrastructure Commission prize

With the technology world dreaming of autonomous vehicles, everyone has to remember perfecting the technology is only part of the battle. The roads have to be updated as well.

This is a concept the National Infrastructure Commission has understood, and looked to address. The national Roads for the Future competition looks to address these very problems with a £50,000 prize fund to fuel new ideas. It might not be an astronomical figure, but the lessons learned will certainly be useful.

And the winners are… City Science based in Exeter and the Leeds City Council.

“The vehicles of tomorrow will be very different to those we see around us today. We need to make sure our roads are ready for this revolution,” said Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt. “With such a strong shortlist narrowing down the entries was no easy task, but the ideas put forward by City Science and Leeds set them apart. I’ve been really pleased by the enthusiasm for our competition, and I hope it leads to ever-greater interest not just in the technology in the vehicles, but also in the roads they will travel on.”

In Exeter, City Science will examine how sections of roads in urban areas could initially be dedicated to driverless vehicles, as a key step in kick-starting their take-up and integrating them safely into the existing transport network. Over in Leeds, the council will investigate how the data generated from digitally connected cars could be used to improve traffic light sequencing, allowing highway authorities to better manage traffic on their roads and reduce tailbacks.

“Over the past three months, this project has given us the opportunity to explore the enormous potential of CAVs and set out a tangible vision to deliver their benefits on the UK’s roads.,” said Laurence Oakes-Ash, CEO of City Science. “It is essential that we get the rollout of CAVs right, using them in ways that can integrate with mass transit, promote healthy cities and create successful communities.”

“While digitally connected and autonomous vehicles are still a long way down the road, they have the potential to offer massive benefits in major cities like Leeds,” said Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, Councillor Richard Lewis. “We look forward to continuing our work with all our partners and stakeholders to turn this innovation into reality.”

The other short-listed entries were how CAVs can be best deployed to beat congestion and improve the air quality (entry from Immense), Arup’s entry assessed the future management of the side of the road through the introduction of flexible kerb space, while Aecom’s idea was to investigate how technology can enable traffic lights to ‘talk’ to vehicles.

Back in January, the National Infrastructure Commission, alongside Highways England and Innovate UK, launched the Roads for the Future competition received 81 entries with ideas for how the UK’s road network could be adapted to maximise the potential benefits these new vehicles could bring. These ideas could have investigated any aspect of the segment such as new travel opportunities, freeing up time focused on driving, and helping to improve safety.

The competition itself followed the release the first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, a report recommendations for how the identified infrastructure needs to be altered or adapted for autonomous vehicles. Some of these recommendations included that the Government devise a National Broadband Plan by Spring 2019, to deliver full fibre connections across the whole of the country, including those in rural areas.

Technology is obviously critical for the development and adoption of autonomous vehicles, as is the 4G/5G infrastructure, but it is nice to see the roads are being considered as well.

ABI smart city warning tells all too familiar sluggish telco tale

ABI Research has warned MNOs might miss out on the $7.6 billion ‘UnTelco’ revenue opportunity if it waits for the 5G euphoria to kick in.

It’s a story which we have heard before, though the telcos run the risk of missing out on a future craze of the digital economy by doing very little. Although it might seem a long-way off, there will certainly be an opportunity to make money in the smart city segment, as well as a chance to banish the dreaded utility tag.

“Smart cities is a huge and complex market, where a traditional vertical focus is now co-existing with a cross-vertical trend that is gaining momentum,” said Pablo Tomasi of ABI Research. “The size of the market, with all its different sub-verticals, means that MSPs [Mobile Service Providers] can target and assume various roles from system integrators to platform providers.

“While the opportunity is huge, competition is mounting, as proven by network vendors’ aggressive activities in the platform space. MSPs need to balance coopetition and prioritize innovative business models, for instance, based on advertising or performance-based revenues, rather than waiting and fostering the marketing trend centred on the role and potential of 5G in smart cities.”

As Tomasi points out, there is a lot of work which can be done pre-5G to lay the foundations for monetization in the smart city era. There are a couple of companies preparing themselves, Verizon has a smart city strategy focused on M&A after purchasing Sensity System and LQD, while Deutsche Telekom is leveraging aggressive NB-IoT deployments, but the industry on the whole looks sluggish. In waiting for the 5G catalyst the boat might have already been missed.

Of course this is not the first time we have heard this tale. Through inactivity and a lack of foresight, cash cow revenues of SMS and voice were destroyed by the OTTs, who also managed to take ownership of the video segment. The smart home is another which is increasingly looking like a lost opportunity as the focal point of the ecosystem shifts to the smart speaker not the router. Even the connected car is under threat as Google carves out partnerships to launch Android as the OS for a number of different automotive manufacturers.

In each of these examples, ownership of the ecosystem has been shifted elsewhere with the telcos slipping down the value chain. The risk is present again with smart cities and it might not be too long before telcos are simply known as connectivity utilities, offering few value-added services to the customer.

While there is still money to be made from being a utility, the focus is shifted towards operational efficiency as opposed to aggressive rollout of value-add services, the risk is with regulation. Should telcos be branded utilities they will fall under the heavy hand of government regulations. There might be benefits in terms of land access and pricing protections, but the telcos are determined to remain at arms-length from the flurry of red-tape and zombie-like civil servants.

As Tomasi said, there is still time to reverse these doomsday predictions, though the signs are not exactly favourable. The telcos are traditionally incredibly risk-adverse organizations which simply won’t work in the cut-throat digital economy. Companies have to be willing to adopt the fail-fast business model, which occasionally means making a bet on a segment which might not work out. Google partnering with automotive manufacturers with its Android OS is an excellent example. It might get disrupted, it might become irrelevant, or it might now have a foot through a very profitably door.

If you don’t buy a ticket, you’re never going to win the lottery.

The benefits of edge computing, IoT for mobile operators in the smart city space

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece freelance Journalist Charlie Osborne explores the role of edge computing in enabling the smart city.

Mobility has paved the way for the rapid adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices worldwide. At the core of IoT and edge computing technologies is mobile networking, which has given rise to Big data, analytics, and cloud computing taking over what was once on-premise and dumb enterprise systems and networks, ranging from security solutions to customer assistance platforms.

As 5G networking looms on the horizon, telecommunications firms are poised to take advantage of what IoT and edge computing can offer. Data demands and the thirst for spectrum have forced a rapid re-think in how telecoms firms manage their resources, prompting a shift towards cloud-driven architectures. Any technology which can lessen the burden of data consumption is worthy of note, and edge computing has the potential to drastically reduce the transfer and management costs of data.

Edge and Fog computing both bring data analysis and collection closer to the source, giving companies the option to reduce the bandwidth required to manage information, as well as reduce latency. Mobile operators can choose to store content which demands high bandwidth at network peripheral nodes, rather than force transfers to core systems at the heart of a network. In turn, this can reduce the workload of mobile networks.

Fog computing is poised to become a necessary element of future mobile networks, which will not only be faced with the challenge of catering for data-hungry consumers but will also need to support the ever-growing array of IoT devices and deployments in our cities through networks such as mobile LPWA, NB-IoT, and LTE-M. Local data storage and analysis provided by edge computing has a vast array of applications in the smart city arena, in which telecoms and mobile operators can benefit from.

Cities worldwide are expected to house an additional 2.5 billion new residents by 2050 and as populations grow, smarter solutions are required for sustainable urban living. Research suggests that the smart city market will be worth $2.4 trillion in 2025 but the core of this growth is dependent upon telecoms firms providing the support required for smart city IoT deployments through the adoption of fog and edge computing. Smart city use cases: Transport: Intelligent transport systems, ranging from smarter traffic lights to autonomous vehicles, have a place in smart cities.

Not only can IoT provide a way to improve traffic flows, but intelligent systems can improve road safety and reduce pollution levels. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, IoT sensors, GPS platforms, and RFID technologies all produce data and require rapid analysis to be fed back to connected devices in real-time. Fog computing and IoT, supported by mobile networks, provides the backbone to manage this information while reducing the risk of bottlenecks. In turn, telcos have the opportunity to secure fresh revenue streams in the automotive industry, an area of business once completely separate.

Smart energy grids: In order to replace aging water, gas, and electricity meters with more intelligent alternatives, smart cities require networks able to cater to low-power sensors spread over a vast area. Fog computing can act as a bridge between smart grids and cloud platforms for the purpose of collecting, computing and storing smart meter data before transmitting them to the cloud, improving the privacy and security of such sensitive data across a range of geographical locations. LoRa networks, which are able to support massive IoT deployments, are currently being rolled out to support smart energy grids and platforms by a number of telecommunications providers and ISPs.

Resident services: The concept of the smart city also includes ways to improve the lives of residents. These can include sensors for monitoring the environment, local services applications, and  intelligent services for caring for the elderly or those with medical conditions.

As fog computing is able to cater for data processing across a variety of nodes in different areas in a secure fashion, this kind of architecture should be a top choice to support resident services, specially when sensitive data is involved. Many of these services focus on mobile devices as a point of entry,  which, in turn, can be harnessed by telcos to create fresh revenue streams.

As our thirst for bandwidth deepens and our cities become smarter, mobile operators must have the capacity and infrastructure in place to support us. When our roads become managed through IoT and AI, bottlenecks can have a severe impact on safety & emergency services, and critical utilities cannot be interrupted, lest cities face the economic consequences.

As a result, telecoms firms will be held to a high standard in terms of speed and reliability. However, the smart city will also provide a wealth of opportunities for mobile operators to turn a profit.

 

Charlie Osborne is a professional journalist based in London, UK. She is a freelance editor, educational material creator and contributes to IoT World News as a feature writer with a focus on consumer technology, innovation, smart technology, mobility, edtech, and security.

 

Edge Computing Congress returns to the German capital. Meet the entire edge ecosystem and discover how cloud computing, 5G and IoT connected services can provide seamless connections at the network edge.

Smart tech fueling the speed of global change

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Ryan Hamilton, Geodata Product Manager, DigitalGlobe looks at the role geodata will play in IoT.

The world just became that little bit smaller as we strive for faster and more efficient connectivity. If you don’t already have some form of connected tech, then I guarantee you that some clever marketing person is working on some campaign to getting you signed up.

Technology is an enabler, and like most things our need to be connected on-demand is fueling the growth of both solutions being offered and the technology required to service this capability. Televisions, smart phones, wearable tech, cloud, broadband, transportation, communication, VR, AR; the list goes on, with these developments impacting the way we live our lives in new and increasing ways.

The use and adoption of the internet and social media in the past decade produced an enormous shift in the way people communicate both with each other, their environment, and the rest of the world. Speed, convenience, and efficiencies continue to drive the adoption of new services with “IOT fast” becoming the new buzz word as the worlds of communication and connected devices merge.

But as with everything that is connected, the infrastructure behind the technology needs to adapt to both advancements in capability and the environments it intends on servicing.

Our planet is dynamic; the environment, people, culture and adoption to change varies depending on both controllable and natural evolution. One way to understand, plan for, and predict this change is through the use of geodata.

Geodata enables us to better understand any given location in the world, and when combined with attributes ranging from elevation, social demographic, objects on the ground and historical data, we can not only identify change, but understand it. Fueled by consumer demand for mobile broadband, new IoT devices, and evolving data service technologies, RF engineers are under pressure to optimize networks for 5G rollouts while maintaining service. Considering the challenges of small cell networks (e.g., high frequency spectrum vulnerabilities) and perpetual population density growth, engineers need a more efficient, accurate way to plan. Having this information enables technology to be better deployed to service the changing requirements of this planet, its people and other stakeholders across the value chain.

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Satellite image of San Francisco, California, captured by DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 on February 8, 2018, compared to high-resolution clutter data of the same area.

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Learn more about why up-to-date geodata will be critical to IoT, and rollouts of 5G technology by meeting DigitalGlobe at 5G World 2018.

 

Smart Cities are about connected people, not just connected things

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Jeff Singman, VP, Product Kandy Business Solutions at Ribbon Communications, looks at the growth of the Smart Cities industry and what should be done to get the best out of it.

The growth of smart cities is unstoppable. So much so that international analyst house IDC, recently predicted spending on the technologies that power smart cities will reach $80 billion in 2018. At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this year, talk of smart cities was in full swing with the show going above and beyond to demonstrate the full capabilities possible with the right infrastructure and technology in place.

Sensors, for example, were everywhere at the show and they are everywhere in our cities, and their benefits are becoming more obvious with every implementation, whether it’s controlling street lighting, orchestrating traffic signals, or making it easier to find an open parking spot.

These sensors and their related IoT systems are reducing energy consumption, measuring the safety and availability of drinking water, even alerting waste management teams to empty trash bins more efficiently.

Cameras are making big cities safer, with algorithms and analytics integrated to alert authorities when a backpack is left on a busy street corner or streaming live video of transportation hubs and capturing criminal activity.

But despite this technological transition, the smart city evolution is still going to be run by human beings. The smartest cities in this sense are those which are connecting public servants with advanced real-time communications platforms that make interactions more productive and efficient.

Consider the power of a law enforcement communications platform that integrates data in smart cities with first responder workflow, as one example. Expensive, complex and limited traditional “command and control” systems are being replaced with cloud communications and Communications as a Service (CaaS) approaches, which go beyond radio communications to full mobile, high definition voice, messaging and video collaboration.

With programmable networks and fully secured end-points and devices, municipal agencies can operate more efficiently and get better outcomes. This is particularly noticeable when those private real-time communications networks and applications improve cooperation between multiple appropriate departments (police, fire, water rescue, ambulance, emergency rooms, schools, etc.) and with county-wide, state-wide and national agencies.

The result? Better prevention, more readiness and preparedness in the face of both natural and unnatural disasters, and generally a faster response when communities face their hardest days.

Beyond those dramatic moments, cloud communications solutions are reducing the cost and complexity of supporting tens and often hundreds of thousands of public workers serving in city hall, the courts, libraries, schools, and more.

For example, Ribbon has been working with one of the largest and most vibrant, advanced cities in the world to transform their legacy communications systems (20-year-old telephony networks) into highly resilient, secure and more flexible platforms supporting employees in the pursuit of getting work done and serving taxpayers more creatively.

For more cities to achieve this level of technological sophistication, however, private organizations must work hand in hand with public sector IT teams on implementation. In the above example, this large city was able to bring in software-defined communications services to agencies across the entire city’s domain. Not only did this deliver mobile experiences for public servants on the go, making “customer service” more intuitive and intelligent, it did so while saving millions of dollars.

In this instance, those cost savings are being reinvested in the expansion of digital communications programs into more departments, while tying more of the behavioral data together, which will contribute towards helping teams become even more productive and effective in the community. This success can be replicated, but it takes time.

At MWC this year, the technology partnership behind the Olympic Games in 2020 announced that they aim to transform the host city, Tokyo, into a 5G smart city. Considering that almost eight million tickets were sold for the Rio Olympics, it’s clear that Tokyo will have to facilitate not only the infrastructure to power this city – another concern noted at MWC – but that these systems will also need to work seamlessly to connect a huge number of people with each other and with their surroundings. That’s a huge challenge and it will be interesting to see what path they select to enable these critical connections.

The growth of smart cities is unstoppable. Soon cities and towns will be able to sense the world around them and communicate more immediately with images, videos, and voice, the ultimate real time tool. But a smart city cannot be limited to connecting things. It must also become smart through connecting people and connecting people with things. All of this must take place in real-time, all the time, and as a foundation for more innovation to come as digital communities and community service become the norm.

 

Jeff SingmanJeff Singman has been the VP, Product Kandy Business Solutions since January 2016. A serial entrepreneur, he previously founded Vizicom to bring end-to-end next generation, real time communications products and services to businesses after having worked for and served many Fortune 500 companies in the areas of media, software, technology, web, mobile and e-commerce. Jeff is expert at connecting people and ideas with the resources, processes and ecosystems that accelerate success as change itself accelerates. His experience includes IT, security, telecom and software, with depth in industries including media, entertainment, financial, and healthcare verticals.

Smart signalling, intelligent kerbs and dynamic sat-nav; the roads of tomorrow

The National Infrastructure Commission has announced the shortlist of finalists for its competition to design roads fit for autonomous vehicles and the digital economy.

The aim of the Roads for the Future competition, launched in partnership with Highways England and Innovate UK, was to encourage the development of ideas to prepare physical infrastructure for autonomous vehicles. Smart traffic lights, flexible use of kerbsides, segregated driverless zones, and sat-navs were among the entries, which did bring forward some pretty interesting ideas.

“We can see for ourselves the progress in developing cars for the future, with trials of driverless cars taking place across the country – we now need to make sure the technology on our roads keeps up,” said John Armitt, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission. “These five entries clearly stood out and I look forward to seeing how their ideas develop further over the coming months.”

The finalists will not have three months to develop their ideas, before the overall winner will be announced in the autumn. So who are the five finalists?

AECOM An American engineering firm, which has come up with the idea of moderating the speeds of cars around junctions to ensure the vehicle approaches traffic lights just as they are turning green. It’s an interesting idea which will manage a consistent flow of traffic, reducing congestion and also pollution. The concept will be tested using a simulation model of the A59 in York.

Arup Using a high street in London, Arup will test out its FlexKerbs idea which can alter the use of kerbsides dependent on the time of day and requirements. Everyday features such as double yellow lines, parking bays or cycle lanes would no longer have to be permanent, and could be adapted dynamically according to the specific demands in real-time.

City Science A small firm based in Exeter which will test out the idea of sectioning off existing roads for the exclusive use of driverless vehicles. The process will mitigate risk, as well as creating distinctions between autonomous and manually-driven vehicles, perhaps aiding the normalisation process.

Immense Solutions A spin out from the Transport Systems Catapult which will aim to aid the development of satellite navigation systems. The aim here is a simple one; use data from sensors on street furniture and other vehicles to optimise travel routes in real-time. Google Maps sort of does this at the moment, but it is an incredibly rudimentary approach which is based on most-likely conditions, not real-time data. The team will be working with Oxfordshire County Council, using simulations of four busy local roads.

Leeds City Council Here the local authority will examine how data generated from digitally connected cars could be used to improve traffic light systems, allowing highway authorities to better manage traffic on their roads and reduce tailbacks.

The focus on autonomous vehicles so far has been very focused on a small aspect of the technology, but like the deployment of fibre, the physical elements will be one of the biggest challenges. As it stands physical infrastructure, such as roads or street furniture, is not up to scratch when it comes to managing autonomous vehicles.

“With 81 entries received, our Roads for the Future competition has demonstrated the keen interest there is across industry to be at the forefront of the technologies supporting the introduction of driverless cars,” said Bridget Rosewell, Chair of the Judging Panel for the Roads for the Future competition.

“We wanted to see how the rules of the road, road design and traffic management could all be adapted to accommodate these new vehicles – and these five entries particularly demonstrated the exciting potential there is to make the best use of those we already have.”

IoT will mostly be boring, and that’s just fine

This year’s MWC saw talk of IoT become a lot more substantial than previously, but the smart money is going to be on unsexy B2B uses.

We have spoken to a number of companies on the topic of IoT, including Cisco, Ericsson and Actility and they all seem to agree that the level of real-world, commercial activity around IoT has ramped significantly in the past year. However they all tell a similar tale of sensible, grown-up, industrial uses dominating that activity.

IoT will be used to do things like optimising agricultural yields, bringing greater efficiency and security to transport and logistics and helping people manage their use of utilities more effectively. All very worthy and, hopefully, profitable, but hardly the kind of stuff to liven up an MWC highlight reel.

One of the areas all three companies reported the most interest around is traffic management. Simple things like smart traffic lights that respond to weight of traffic and don’t keep cars needlessly stranded at red lights when the road is empty could have a massive impact on congestion.

A demonstration at the Ericsson stand pictured above detailed how the 5G future will enable autonomous vehicles enhanced will all manner of environmental data to not just move around safely but also anticipate hazards or opportunities far in advance and make informed decisions accordingly.

In fact autonomous cars have the potential to solve traffic problems by driving in a far more efficient manner than as flawed humans can manage. Autonomous cars will not only be far less erratic, they will be able to tell each other what they’re planning to do and thus enable pre-emptive action by all cars. Traffic jams could be a thing of the past!

It’s pretty much a given now that the default IoT wireless technology will be NB-IoT, although Actility still insists there will be plenty of uses for the even-lower power LoRa. We have heard some grumbling that, in the rush to get the first 5G standards out of the door, organisations such as the 3GPP have neglected NB-Iot, when it has the potential to provide more immediate business opportunities.

But having said that many of the things that will allow us to unlock the full potential of IoT, such as network slicing, need to be developed at the same time, so there’s limited use in doing one without the other. Regardless the momentum around commercial IoT is undeniable and it’s been good to hear so much more substantial, serious, if boring talk than the wide-eyed hyperbole of yesteryear.

Shuffle Sites: Lighting and Connecting the Smart City

This article is brought to you in partnership with Huawei

 

The MBB Sector Is Set for a New Wave of Explosive Growth

As the number of mobile broadband (MBB) users explodes with an ever-increasing demand for diverse services, data traffic is experiencing sharp growth like never before. Network quality is a key differentiator for data-savvy customers. Towns and cities across the world need a highly performing network and broadband infrastructure to implement their smart initiatives that will bring huge benefits for their citizens.

Telecom operators need to improve the coverage and the capacity of their mobile networks. As site acquisition becomes increasingly difficult, the focus is turning to new ways to roll out services, improve the user experience and develop 5G networks while meeting strict government requirements on integration and appearance.

Shuffle Site – a joint innovation

Partners of cities worldwide, Huawei and Schréder, having been working together for the past year to deliver Shuffle Site – a multi-functional street lighting platform that incorporates Huawei’s built-in small cell to provide wider broadband coverage and boost capacity while meeting government regulations.

Technological cooperation turns street lights into base stations

With street lights widely available throughout towns and cities, they are ideally placed to quickly deliver extensive coverage, support large amounts of data traffic, and improve the user experience.
Huawei’s outdoor integrated small cells as well as their antennas and transmission devices have been perfectly integrated into the Shuffle to meet the requirements of the local municipalities and carriers regarding the appearance of small cells. The small cell has also been designed to accommodate 5G networks in the future.
The Shuffle Site represents much more than a high-value data traffic hub. It can also integrate public address systems, surveillance cameras, WiFi modules and sensors to enable cities to provide multiple services in one aesthetic column, reducing their carbon footprint. It is simply, the ideal platform for cities to implement smart city initiatives.

In addition, by collaborating with telecom operators, cities could give themselves an enormous economic advantage. The first cities to have 5G, which is 100 times faster than 4G, will undoubtedly, attract technology companies who want to develop new products and services.

Success across industries

By adopting the Shuffle Site, telecom operators will save time and money in new site deployment, reducing CAPEX and OPEX by over 40%. The acquisition period will be cut from six months to one. Pilot installations have proven that the download rate for subscribers increased by three times.

The Shuffle Site can be installed in densely populated areas, including pedestrian areas, squares, railway stations, metro stations, residential areas, urban roads, and tourist attractions.

In addition to providing a solution to the recurrent problem of site acquisition this joint innovation contributes to enhancing the city landscape. It provides the perfect infrastructure to ensure a successful collaboration for many stakeholders.

Nokia goes all-in on digital cities

Nokia has announced a series of initiatives designed to position itself strongly as a supplier of digital city products and solutions.

Assuming this is a strategic bit of positioning in advance of MWC next week, Nokia’s digital cities push comes intriguingly soon after it threw in the towel on digital health buy announcing a strategic review of its efforts in that area. The contrast seems to be that cities are a macro, large scale problem while health is ultimately a micro, individual-level issue and it seems plausible to assume the former plays more to Nokia’s strengths.

Here are the digital city initiatives announced today:

IoT for Smart Cities is a modular platform designed to help operators and systems integrators to do unified smart city management and to launch new services in this area. It’s powered by Nokia’s Integrated Operations Center (IOC), which is designed to orchestrate all smart city operations. Applications include video surveillance, smart lighting, parking, waste management, and environmental sensing.

Sensing as a Service is another smart city IoT thing that aims to offer as much of the burden of installing sensors, processing their data and offering useful actions as a capex-free service. One slightly creepy USP seems to be the potential for an Orwellian level of city-wide surveillance that can detect illegal construction, rubbish burning and other unsanctioned activities. More intriguing is the use of blockchain to enable anonymised, secure micro transactions for new revenue streams.

S-MVNO (Secure Mobile Virtual Network Operator) for Public Safety seems to allow the creation of a public safety-specific MVNO within an operator’s existing network, which complies with all the various additional stipulations required of such a thing.

“Cities need to become digital in order to efficiently deliver services to their habitants,” said Asad Rizvi, head of Global Services business development at Nokia. “Smart infrastructure, which is shared, secure, and scalable, is needed to ensure urban assets and data are efficiently used. We can help cities with that. In addition, we can help operators generate new revenue utilizing their existing network by providing solutions for smart city players, such as city, transport, travel and public safety authorities.”

In a separate announcement Nokia said it has co-developed a suite of analytics services for digital cities in partnership with Singapore operator StarHub. This seems to be a refinement of Nokia’s AVA cognitive services platform with the introduction of real-world use-cases.

“We have a strong team of data analytics experts with a diversity of capabilities, and we have introduced several successful mobility analytics use cases in Singapore for strategic and operational urban planning and decision making,” said Dr Chong Yoke Sin, StarHub’s Chief, Enterprise Business Group. “By integrating the use cases into the Nokia AVA platform and using Nokia’s analytics capabilities, we will be developing the use cases further and creating new ones that we can offer even to other telcos as white label solutions. Our partnership with Nokia allows us to develop innovative solutions at the deep research level for the market.”

As we said at the start, city-wide communications and IoT initiatives seem to play to the strengths of networking operators more than digital health, which necessarily has a B2C element. The digital city/smart city (when everything is ‘smart’ will it still have meaning?) seems likely to be one of the principal new opportunities of the 5G era, along with autonomous vehicles and, yes, digital health.