Smart city enablers
Smart cities can radically improve all of the responsibilities through the power of ICT
(information and communications technology). ICT can make buildings more efficient, water and energy more affordable, transportation quicker and neighborhoods safer. In the Readiness Guide, we refer to these transformative technologies and capabilities as enablers.
They put the “smart” in smart cities. The seven technology enablers are listed below.
- Instrumentation and control is how a smart city monitors and controls conditions. Instrumentation provides the eyes and ears of a smart city. Examples include smart meters for electricity, water and gas; air quality sensors; closed circuit TV and video monitors and roadway sensors. Control systems provide remote management capabilities. Examples include switches, breakers and other devices that let operators measure, monitor and control from afar.
- Connectivity is how the smart city’s devices communicate with each other and with the control center. Connectivity ensures that data gets from where it is collected to where it is analyzed and used. Examples include citywide WiFi networks, RF mesh networks and cellular networks. (Note: When a cellular network communicates with devices, the Readiness Guide refers to it as connectivity. When it lets people communicate, the Guide uses the term telecommunications. These are arbitrary distinctions used only in the Guide to make it easier to distinguish between the two sides of communications – devices and people.)
- Interoperability ensures that products and services from disparate providers can exchange information and work together seamlessly. Interoperability has many benefits. For one, it prevents the city from being “locked in” to just one proprietary supplier. For another, it gives the city more choice, since it can buy from any company that supports the city’s chosen standards. For another, it lets the city build projects over time in phases, with confidence that all the pieces will work together in the end. Open standards are the key to interoperability.
- Security and privacy are technologies, policies and practices that safeguard data, privacy and physical assets. Examples include the publishing of clear privacy rules and the implementation of a cybersecurity system. Security and privacy play a critical role in enabling smart cities because they build trust with people. Without trust, a city may have difficulty adopting new technologies and practices.
- Data management is the process of storing, protecting and processing data while guaranteeing its accuracy, accessibility, reliability and timeliness. Data is king in a smart city. Proper management is essential to maintain data integrity and value. A citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy – including proper policies around access, authentication and authorization – is one step toward proper data management, as explained below.
- Computing resources include 1) billions of computer “brains” of all sizes, from wrist watch components to server farms, 2) in those computers, a similar range of simple to very complex software, and 3) data, which has little value until it is communicated. Open standard software interfaces and data encodings enable digital communication. Most city data refers to things and phenomena where locations are important, so spatial standards are among the essential open standards that enable smart cities.
- Analytics create value from the data that instrumentation provides. Examples include: forecasting crime the way we already forecast weather; analyzing electric power usage to know when and where to expand or adjust to accommodate demand; analyzing conditions to predict which equipment needs repair; automatically plotting the best route for a mass transit user, and creating personalized portals for every citizen by analyzing what they value most. And analytics that utilize data from across departments have tremendous potential to identify new insights and unique solutions to delivering services, thereby improving outcomes.