New report from Beecham Research shows smart cities need intelligent platforms to thrive

Smart city projects focused on solving specific problems such as pollution, traffic and parking will be replaced by a more holistic approach that looks at the city as a system-of-systems, based around the Internet of Things (IoT), says a new report from Beecham Research. 

Big Data can solve growing city issues

“The city is composed of different systems such as transport, waste and water, each producing sources of data from different sensors, which can be integrated to provide a systemic approach to city problem solving,” says Saverio Romeo, principal analyst at Beecham and one of the authors of the report. “The data produced can be used to develop new applications to solve growing city issues and provide better services to citizens.”

The smart city platform

According to the research, IoT will be central to this shift from a vertical to horizontal approach, based around a new generation of powerful, unified smart city platforms, capable of handling different technologies and devices and supporting a wide range of applications and services. A smart city platform is defined by Beecham as a framework for sensing, communications, integration and intelligent decision-making, delivering up to the minute information and services that citizens need.

“By providing on-line information in real time, cities can optimise the use of resources for operations such as parking, traffic management and lighting, all with the aim of improving efficiencies and reducing costs,” says Dr. Therese Cory, co-author of the report. “The ultimate aim of a smart city is to capture all environmental stimuli and to connect these up to respond like a living organism.”


The players in the smart city platform

The report points to a diverse landscape made of demonstrators and projects supported by government organisations and private-public consortia. The report also explores the complex space of smart city platform suppliers, from major organisations such as IBM, Hitachi and Cisco to highly innovative and smart city focused players such as LivingPlanIT as well as IoT platforms vendors with a strong attention to smart cities such as PrismTech, Plat-One and Sensetecnic.

“Smart City spaces will be orders of magnitude more complex than current smart city applications and must be of industrial strength, scalable and able to process far more data, of different types and from a wide variety of sources,” says Dr. Therese Cory.

Pioneering projects

Although the report highlights that there is no fully smart city yet in existence, Beecham Research points to pioneering projects taking place in cities such as Bristol, Dubai, Nice, Songdo in South Korea and Fujisawa in Japan.

“Today, cities provide around 80% of the global GDP, according to the World Bank,” says Robin Duke Woolley, CEO at Beecham Research. “It is logical to assume that this figure will rise so it is essential that national and city governments put in place the best infrastructure to support this growth in an integrated and sustainable way.”