Smart cities – from pipedream to reality with IoT and ubiquitous connectivity – Part 2

September 4, 2017 Anthony Bartolo

My previous blog looked at examples of smart cities from around the world, and it became clear that the possibilities are boundless. However, the opportunities are dependent on some crucial elements including the connectivity underpinning the Internet of Things, and cloud infrastructure.

In India, these critical foundations are being built with the creation of the world’s largest IoT network, using LoRa Low Power WAN technology. The first phase of the roll-out targets Tier 1, 2, 3 and 4 cities in India, touching over 400 million people. Alongside successful field trials in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, there are also 35 proof-of-concept applications being trialled at present. This IoT network will have unprecedented reach and signal strength, enabling communications up to 50 metres underground. This makes it suitable for use in metro stations and car parks, and through half a dozen walls inside buildings. The network is a collaborative effort by us and our partners such as HPE, harnessing our collective connectivity and IoT platform capabilities to pave the way for new smart buildings and transport systems, utility, health and security services.

For the roll-out of new IoT services, a right type of IoT platform is crucial. Given that this is still a nascent market, a fragmented ecosystem is developing around IoT, with a broad set of requirements including devices, BSS/OSS, connectivity, analytics, applications and related services. Ultimately however, when any business chooses its own IoT platform, it is important to ensure that it has not only the technical capabilities to enable the adoption IoT with minimal CAPEX and with maximum agility and reach, but also the business capabilities that allow the generation of new revenues from IoT services. Through a cloud-based IoT platform and global ubiquitous connectivity, any business with ambitions for smart city applications can gain full control and visibility over new IoT-enabled services.

Securing a hyper-connected city

Whenever any new connected technology becomes mainstream, there are concerns around the security vulnerabilities that these devices might entail. Connecting hundreds of thousands of IoT devices in a smart city represents challenges in terms of network security, as every device is a potential vulnerability which can be used cyber criminals to stage an attack such as DDoS. This can have potentially disastrous consequences, bringing the whole city to standstill.

While DDoS protection capabilities exist to protect all IoT applications, it is also critical that any new smart city systems are built from scratch with security at the core, and updated constantly to keep up with cyber criminals’ efforts to stage attacks. Still, the more super-connected cities become, the more vulnerabilities they will have: hyper-connected systems, whereby each system is reliant on others, makes cities more susceptible to single points of failure. That is why close collaboration between governments and private sector organisations around IT and network security is paramount to safeguard hyper-connected smart cities today and in the future. This includes common procedures, such as using highly secure and reliable enterprise-grade private or hybrid networks instead of the public Internet for many IoT applications.

So, what started out as a pipedream, is finally seeing the light of day around the world, with analysts at IHS projecting that there will be at least 88 smart cities globally by 2025 – up from just 21 in 2013. Whether new greenfield developments in emerging markets, or brownfield sites in Europe, all these smart cities will be built on the foundations of state-of-the-art, superfast connectivity and cloud infrastructure. These foundations will underpin the IoT-enabled applications of a smart city, paving the way for high-tech innovation, bringing new opportunities to businesses and ultimately tremendously improving the lives of everyone.

Read a previous blog on how technology will be able to guide our lives in the future. 

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