Innovation in Smart Cities of the future - Part III, Technologies Integration

The evolution of processing, storage and communications find an integration at the Cloud level (and Fog). Smart Cities Municipalities can use the Cloud as both a tool and a framework, as shown in this drawing. Credit: ClouT project

Significant advances, and changes, can be expected by the integration of the evolution in processing, storage and communications. The rise of Clouds is a clear example.

The increased performance, capacity and connectivity of smart terminals is moving the Cloud from above the network to its edges, in what is known as Fog.  We have examples of Fog in the distribution of content by SoftBank, in Japan, where Media Servers are the local storage devices at the homes of their customers, or in projects with crowdsourcing 2.0 where processing is actually performed at the edges, inside terminals.

Smart cities need to work on promoting the integration and to involve citizens to become part of the city network infrastructure.  Providing ubiquitous power charge stations will help in fostering processing, storage and communications at the edges, leveraging on citizens smart phones.

An EU-Japan joint project, ClouT aims at studying the pervasive application of Cloud and Fog architectures to smart cities. Interestingly, this is seen also as a platform to stimulate innovation by SMEs and Start ups.

As shown in the figure, the overall city communications infrastructures can be seen as a service that can be used by third parties. A Municipality may, as an example, decide to offer free access to the comm infrastructures to support certain citizens' services, taking the "check" from the infrastructure owners and keeping the direct contact with its citizens. We are seen the first (tiny) steps in this direction with Muni networks, like Freeluna in Trento, where citizens are given an access code and have unlimited access to city services. The problem with Muni networks is that they have a limited coverage. Transforming the whole infrastructures covering the urban territory into a service will provide real citizens access.  Having free access is important to stimulate citizens participation to the city life and having them becoming active players.

The next step is to provide access to all city data, access to the various platforms managing them. This can be granted in different ways, mostly through API (useful to developers, not to the lay citizen) and Apps.

The third step is to provide access to the software that is "managing" the city so that it can be reused by third parties. I can imagine that this software can be shared among cities and this is something that the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative is aiming at.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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