Urenio Watch Watch: Intelligent / Smart Cities Solutions

The Role of Open Systems for the Smart City

The_Smart_City_is_open-15Machina Research, a global provider of strategic market intelligence on the Internet of Things, has published a White Paper sponsored by Philips, examining the criticality of open systems as key enablers of smart cities.

Cities are increasingly aware of the benefits of an ‘˜open’ approach to becoming ‘˜Smart’ . It is already recognized that being locked into an integrated solution from a single vendor is sub-optimal. However, there is insufficient clarity on the full implications of and challenges of ‘˜open-ness’ , in terms of connectivity, interfaces between applications and city verticals, standards and procurement.

Machina Research’s White Paper explores this and argues that an open ecosystem that develops independently but integrates seamlessly at a higher level, is key to unlocking increasing value over time from different verticals and applications.

The report explains that while in a mature, stable industry environment, formal standards are the trusted method for ensuring interoperability between different vendors’ offerings, in an evolving environment where innovation is rapid and the technology is still being developed, openness is best delivered via interfaces. Smart cities are very much in this evolving stage. Business models, interconnection methodologies, sensor and connectivity technologies are all in a process of rapid change.

As it is not clear which models of interoperability will emerge between cities, applications systems and providers, what is required from an open system is the ability to inter-operate with others via defined interfaces. This is the case both with respect to existing systems and applications and future ones.

City application interfaces

Here are the recommendations proposed:

  • Interoperability should be a guiding principle in every project and every stage
  • Forward compatibility with future decisions about interoperability is more important than a once-and-for-all platform choice. In the early deployments of smart city applications, as municipalities test the waters, it is best to focus on deploying specific vertical applications, e.g. street lighting, refuse collection or parking, rather than trying to implement overarching city platforms
  • Cities need to stay flexible and prepare for a future based on open standards and APIs. During the current stage of smart city development, the key to remaining flexible is implementing open systems that enable interoperability via interfaces
  • Choosing open and recognized standards is a crucial element that is required to ensure open and durable systems and infrastructure. Where no recognized standard exists yet, the ability to work via APIs is key to guaranteeing openness