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The 'Internet of Things' Reality: Today’s Smart Cities By @MetraTech | @ThingsExpo [#IoT]

We will reach a point where a city’s data infrastructure will be as important as its transportation, utilities and roads

In the last blog, we looked at the impact of Internet of Things on industry and society, just like the Industrial Revolution did before it. But to date most smart city projects, such as green areas, smart trams, bike-sharing schemes and smart electricity grids, have been of relatively modest scale. In the not so distant future, we will reach a point where a city's data infrastructure will be as important as its transportation, utilities and roads. How far are we from science fiction to reality? Below are some examples of what is already happening.

  • Smart Santander: As one of the most widely recognized smart cities, the Spanish city of Santander is a project promoted by the European Union. It involves 15 companies and institutions, including Telefónica, Telefónica I+D, Ericsson and various universities and research institutes in Spain, Germany, the U.K., Denmark, Greece and Australia. The 20,000 devices, sensors, cameras and mobiles installed throughout the city carry out day-to-day intelligent tasks such as advice for traffic, information on public transportation conditions and timetables, information about air quality, water needs, and more. As a result, the Smart Santander initiative has earned the Future Internet Award.
  • Águas de São Pedro: Another Ericsson customer, Telefônica Vivo, has helped transform the small city of Águas de São Pedro, 187 kilometers outside São Paulo, into Brazil's first digital smart city. The results of this pilot city will serve as a model to implement similar projects in other cities of São Paulo State and other regions of the country. With an urban population that is highly connected (84 percent of São Paulo citizens use their smartphones on their daily commute), there is increased opportunity to improve city living, as well as provide smart city services to a rising middle class. We will dive into further details on this implementation in our next blog post in this series.
  • New York City's "Don't Flush Me" initiative: In an interesting twist to the smart city, citizens are using smartphones, apps and do-it-yourself (DIY) sensors to attack problems that they care about. In New York City, a DIY sensor and app is designed to help the city with a major water issue. During heavy rainfall, raw sewage is pumped into the harbor at a rate of 27 billion gallons per year. A sensor measures water levels in the sewer overflows, and, when combined with a smartphone app, the "Don't Flush Me" initiative lets people know when it is safe to flush.

This last IoT real example may appear to be an outlier, but it is important to recognize that the model of a smart city is only successful if the Internet of Things is combined with the smart digital citizen. The race to make cities smarter, more efficient and more performant can only be won if there is a partnership between governments, businesses and citizens, who all benefit from a networked society. There will be connection points everywhere: smartphones, wearables, cars, buildings, benches, billboards, parking, traffic lights, tolls, trains, trams, stores and more. Every day, citizens traverse each layer of the city and when data is collected and managed from the vast numbers of sensors and interwoven with connected citizens, the quality of life can be vastly improved.

The following quote sums up the revolution ahead: "The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it." The irony is that it is a quote from Elbert Hubbard, an American writer and philosopher who was born during the Industrial Revolution. Who could have predicted that it would so aptly describe our own Internet of Things revolution?

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud, BUSS. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda was CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. At MetraTech, Esmeralda was responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution for enterprise and SaaS products, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of resource and service control software, now part of Extreme Networks.

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