Deutsche Telekom and United Smart Cities (USC) -- a global program formed and coordinated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in cooperation with the Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER) -- have teamed up to break down smart-city initiatives into more manageable components. At the same thime, they still aim to address necessary big-picture goals, such as data-sharing and quality of life across the continent, if not the world.
Under the partnership, DT and USC will help urban leaders develop activities that are closely aligned with the phases of an integrated smart-city solution. For example, a city's most urgent demands could focus on monitoring air quality via sensors or alleviating parking congestion via smart parking.
Ultimately, DT will integrate data from these disparate systems into one solution via a dashboard or app, allowing a mayor or citizen, for example, to see how congestion relief has reduced smog or where parking spots are available.
Shaking on a High-Tech Deal
Markus Keller, who heads smart cities at DT, and Kari Aina Eik, USC executive director, announced the two organizations' partnership with a traditional handshake and discussions about some leading edge technologies such as IoT devices, analytics, large databases and high-speed networks.
“We are able to improve environmental sustainability and support the economic development of a city by digitizing public services via our ICT-based solutions," said Markus Keller, who is responsible for smart cities at DT. "But we never lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is to increase the quality of life for citizens and visitors of any city we help become smart."
As part of the evolution, cities will continue to develop their smart projects and innovate existing implementations, then begin sharing data with "industry players, universities and others," according to the press release.
DT and USC will provide a database -- or data marketplace -- where participating cities can share data, depending on their individual data-access rules. Then cities can leverage analytics tools for deeper insight into return on investment, immediate and longer-term trends and complementary projects for a full smart-city deployment.
Ultimately, the two partners envision a virtual society where cities across the world can integrate their urban solutions, thereby creating an international community of smart cities.
"Cities are the hubs of the future and need individual integrated solutions to solve their challenges. Our partnership with Deutsche Telekom enables the development and showcasing of these solutions," said Kari Aina Eik, USC executive director, in a statement.
Of the 1,015 smart-city projects that IHS Markit tracks worldwide, more than 330 are in Europe, making it the leading region for smart city technology, according to . "Europe is on the leading front of smart city technology. Most projects are still in the trial stage, or in partial city rollouts, because people are understandably concerned about who owns their personal data and how it will be used," wrote Noman Akhtar, analyst for smart cities at IHS Markit. The advent of Europe's GDPR will help propel smart city adoption now that everyone from users to vendors to municipalities understands the privacy rules, he noted.
In addition to the benefits that smart cities deliver via improved air quality, time savings and safety, the infrastructure and technologies are part of a much larger picture -- something many providers envision themselves delivering to urban areas, homes, businesses and organizations such as schools and healthcare providers, and tying into technologies like edge computing, 5G and artificial intelligence.
"Machine learning and artificial intelligence, edge computing, drones and blockchain all started emerging in the past years, will grow in 2018, and will play a defining role in the future smart city," wrote IHS Markit in late December 2017. "The smart city needs to embrace new technologies and understand shifting consumers’ habits. The smart city is not only expanding towards the smart home but also towards the smart region in a trend that will shape 2018 and will continue accelerating in the coming years."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.