The Big Six of Smart Cities

The term Smart City is not a new one and, while some examples already exist on the African continent, it is not as widespread as it should be. Urbanization, Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability requirements are putting increasing pressure on cities’ infrastructure. This requires a paradigm shift to urban centres operational and management models by adopting new and smart technologies to create sustainable living environment for their citizens. This is according to Mahmoud El-Banna, Global IoT Solution Management Leader, at Nokia.

Cities across the globe are facing persistent challenges in different sectors in terms of energy consumption, environmental sustainability, citizen safety, traffic management, vulnerability to disasters, changing climate conditions and many more. These challenges are accelerating the need of new business models for cities management to  improve the quality of life inside the city.

Cities looking to thrive in the future are encouraged to invest in creating Smart, Safe and Sustainable applications enabled by a Shared, Scalable and Secured Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in what so-called Six S’s smart city model.

With challenge comes opportunity

The City challenges translate into various opportunities for cities to embrace new technologies and improve the efficiency of urban operations. The Internet of Things (IoT) which aims at connecting everything around us towards the journey to programmable world is on the high rise and at the heart of future-proof smart cities. IoT will be the technology of choice to enable unlimited possibilities for smart city applications and use cases, says El-Banna.

The smart city IoT applications will have various requirements with direct implications on the City ICT infrastructure. These requirements will vary in terms of data volume, throughput, number of devices and the latency pattern for transferring the data. This in return mandates the need to have a robust and flexible infrastructure to support a wide range of use cases that would be implemented as part of smart city. The adequate infrastructure would be composed of a massive scale broadband access technologies layer supported by an agile networking gear and topped by a city management platform to manage all aspects of the city. Across all these horizontal layers, security is vertically positioned to secure the data across the entire ICT infrastructure.

“All these applications and infrastructure solutions are brought by Nokia in a full end to end stack fashion to support cities in their technology transformation journey”, says Mahmoud.

But where do the six-s’s fit in?

“Optimal smart city implementation will truly benefit from the Six s’s,” says El-Banna. “By sharing network infrastructure, applications and data over a single IP infrastructure, cities can minimise cost and provide residents with ubiquitous and real-time access to applications anytime and anywhere.” Cybersecurity and data privacy also remains an ultimate priority.

“Endpoint data protection, device management, authentication, authorisation, traffic profiling and encryption must be key points on both governments’ and citizens’ checklists.” On the scalability aspect, While the initial uptake of smart cities initiatives might start small, they can grow fast and cities must ensure that their ICT infrastructure anticipates this growth.

To ensure smart city initiative success, applications must satisfy the Smartness, Safety and Sustainability angles. “Smart applications aim at improving the quality of success, bolster innovation and drive social and economic development, but also make the cities more attractive places to live, visit and do Business”, El-Banna adds. Safety comes through providing applications that prevent or minimise the risks of adverse events, such as crime, accidents and natural disasters. “Sustainability applies to minimising the environmental impact of the municipality’s operations and the activities of its businesses and citizens, while ensuring that cities select the right business model to fund, invest and cost-efficiently manage innovations.”

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