November 13, 2014

The Internet of Things: Cities as a Platform

BY :     November 13, 2014

To an ever-greater extent, the digital architecture of the city is beginning to resemble a platform with various components that support and reinforce one another and accelerate developments. Cities have always been infrastructures, and now the physical and the digital infrastructure are mutually interwoven.

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All in all, we can distinguish eleven areas or scenarios where the platform enables a city to become smarter: healthcare, measuring (smart meters), food, traffic, logistics, management, grids, retailing, supply chains, tourism and e-government.

At the top, there is the physical city with the activities of its citizens, consumers, students and commuters. Immediately below this top layer lies the technology stack. Via the Application Programming Interfaces it becomes possible to observe the city through Google Glass, for instance, or via all kinds of apps and dashboards. Thus, for example, security cameras can provide real-time information in dangerous situations if they are linked up with a face-recognition service. At the basis we see, as usual, the Internet layer of Infrastructure as a Service, the related Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service. What follows is an additional layer to improve mutual communication and collaboration among the connected areas. The exchange of information takes place via a service bus (smart engine).

The City as a Platform is twofold: it is the infrastructural capacity plus the human dimension, the empowerment of behavior via data and applications. These two aspects are reflected in all the examples of City as a Platform projects that have been realized so far. Considering the success of companies such as Uber and Airbnb – the well-known taxi platform and the bed and breakfast platform – the concept of platforms has apparently become very popular. And because the two services are so deeply rooted in the functions of the physical city, its buildings and its motor vehicles, this is having an inspiring effect on other possibilities for smart city projects.

Find out more about the internet of things, smart cities and the city as a platform in the new report by VINT titled SMACT and the City – New Technologies in Urban Environments.

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