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Making smart cities smarter by using a standardized approach

By 2025, it’s forecasted that there will be 41.6 billion active IoT network devices, according to IDC. In India, the appetite for IoT solutions is rapidly growing, according to a Deloitte report. Consequently, the need for interoperability will mount.

While emerging vendors are working towards full interoperability that will allow applications to share information and experiences, this remains a challenge for mass consumerization of the IoT. If city authorities are to reap the benefit of large scale, cost effective smart city deployments, they must adopt a horizontal approach when it comes to selecting their IoT platforms.

Increasing urbanization

As more of the global population converges in urban areas, citizens are now demanding more savvy and efficient city services because of urbanization. As a result, cities across the globe are looking to exploit smart services and solutions to satisfy this demand.

The range of potential smart services and solutions which are available to a smart city is vast; including services as seemingly mundane as monitoring the levels of garbage in a waste bin to ones as complex as integrated traffic management. However, these solutions have very different requirements and characteristics in terms of data volume, frequency and levels of latency required, meaning different connectivity options are required to optimize the cost of connectivity.

Though many around the world have begun their transformation towards becoming a smart city, for many the progress has been slower than expected, such as in India.

Siloed applications

Historically, cities have deployed different systems from a range of different vendors. Today, vertically siloed application vendors make up a large percentage of the IoT application environment in India. This is especially the case in the smart city ecosystem and proprietary platform providers are continuing to fill the smart cities space.

As a result, cities are facing several challenges, such as being locked into expensive proprietary ecosystems while deploying and extending their IoT applications. This, in turn, is acting as a key motivation towards the understanding of standards in smart cities across India.

Another risk, another city

A standardized approach toward smart cities offers residents a convenient and hassle-free way of living with the lowest possible use of resources, enabled by technology and innovative solutions. It also brings forward new benefits to city authorities who have a golden opportunity when it comes to utilizing the data generated by smart city applications. But as with anything in life, opportunities don’t come without their challenges.

The transition to smart cities will take time and with so much data readily available, privacy and confidentiality can be difficult to enforce. As a result, city authorities will require smart solutions to ensure an open future for IoT applications. But an increase in IoT device use also introduces the possibility of IoT data breaches that are more sophisticated than ever and with varying levels of risk.

Therefore, supporting service domains has never been more important than now. This allows businesses to enable secure and seamless interoperability across government sector applications. With data being used in industries such as transportation and public security, information breaches pose one of the biggest prohibitors to mass IoT adoption and the expansion of smart cities.

Not only in terms of security, but interoperability of city-wide actions such as emergency response, where information must be fused together efficiently. Operations such as these play a vital part in day-to-day running of cities and without these, it could result in a potentially life-threatening situation.

A smarter and safer solution

By leveraging the power of these IoT devices in a safe and secure environment, this will open the door to new capabilities, which will help create a new era of smart cities. But none of this is possible without standardization.

Businesses such as oneM2M are building the bridge between IoT devices and smart cities to enable horizontal platforms that are communicable, operable and programable across devices, regardless of the make, model, manufacturer or industry. For example, oneM2M provides a service layer between applications across different verticals and the underlying connectivity networks, supporting end-to-end encryption of data in a secure and controlled manner.

Thanks to this approach, city planners will be able to sidestep vertical deployments; which do not scale if smart cities are to expand and support multiple IoT use cases. Alternatively, an open horizontal platform can leverage existing networks, allowing the sharing of software across different applications and devices with multiple uses.

Furthermore, standardization also has a role to play when it comes to overcoming barriers involved in data exchange, which will become more and more commonplace as smart city deployments become established in all sectors. For instance, data exchange across different departments, such as traffic management, environmental monitoring and emergency services, can be enabled.

IoT device use in India

Although India began its IoT journey much later compared to other countries, increased penetration of affordable devices and rising consumer expectations now accelerate this increased growth. As a result, IoT adoption across India is expected to grow across all industries.

In 2015, the Indian launched its Smart City Mission with an aim to develop 100 cities across the country to make them more citizen friendly and sustainable. This year, the Indian government announced that it will develop five new smart cities under its mission, presenting an opportunity to maximize the benefits of three separate economic activities: the economic corridors, revitalization of manufacturing activities and the technological demands of aspirational classes.

Out of several companies, oneM2M is specifically being considered as the IoT standard for India. Now more than ever, standards are critical to the success of smart cities where IoT applications play a major role.

How a standardized framework can enable a safer and smarter future for cities across India is a key focus for many. Due to the increasing awareness of IoT standards within India, oneM2M also chose Hyderabad, India as the location of its most recent Industry Daym which discussed the critical role standards will play in enabling mass adoption of the IoT across Asia.

A bright future ahead

A digital environment will not only leverage the smart cities concept and increase deployments across the globe, but it will pave the way for new ways to manage, govern and live in the city of tomorrow.

By adopting a standardized approach to their IoT deployments, city authorities in India and beyond will be able to reap the benefits of interoperable, large-scale deployments; positioning them to make data-driven decisions and reduce costs.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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