Just published (August 18, 2011) by Accenture, this report of the GSM Association (GSMA), which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, looks at the challenges of global urbanization. “The flood of people to the cities is placing huge stress on cities’ energy, road and water infrastructures, and even their ability to provide clean air. Smart cities that optimize these scarce resources are emerging as the solution. They employ innovative digital services layers that use sensing and control, analytics and ubiquitous communications, to enable better allocation of these resources. This approach will help cities to save costs while moving to a low-carbon economy”.
The report argues that “no agreed definition of an intelligent or smart city exists, but they should provide enhanced information flow to citizens and service providers, combine disparate data sets to offer productivity insights; maximize economies of scale across multiple infrastructure layers, and use innovative technology and innovation. The report argues that mobile operators have a fundamental role to play in this emerging multibillion dollar value chain. As owners of the infrastructure, they are well placed to: (1) Deliver end-to-end services direct to consumers. (2) Orchestrate the disparate ecosystems providing all the services. (3) Provide the technology platform from which these future services can be delivered.
Smart city infrastructures may be most compelling in developing cities where no legacy infrastructure exists. Three city archetypes need to be considered:
- New build cities. Examples are Masdar in Abu Dhabi and Songdo in Korea.
- Developed market cities. The primary driver here is the need to adopt green energy practices to protect energy reserves.
- Developing market cities. The primary challenge is urban density and traffic congestion caused by rapid urbanization”.
It identifies six key opportunities for mobile operators:
- Intelligent energy. A mobile service to help consumers manage consumption.
- Mobile payments and ticketing. A mobile payment platform using near-field communication.
- Analytics and commercial insight. Management and operational analytics platform to provide insight into the city environment.
- Citizen travel optimization. En route-optimization tool to help citizens identify the fastest, cheapest and most carbon-friendly method of urban travel.
- Wireless fleet management. Intelligent fleet logistics; mobile tracking and routing via embedded telematics.
- Remote healthcare. Remote monitoring of patients and automation of health care field workers.