Analysis: Connected streetlights illuminate path to smart cities

Analysis: Smart streetlights illuminate path to smart cities

Projects to install connected streetlights show that cities are serious about getting smarter. These technologies face bright growth prospects over the next decade. 

The city of Wellington in New Zealand is just one among many municipalities that have recently announced plans to install connected street lighting in a bid to be smarter and more energy-efficient.

In Wellington’s case, the intelligent street lighting system involved, called Planet, comes from Cambridge, UK-based Telensa and will apparently “pay for itself”, through reduced energy and maintenance costs. Quality of service will get a boost through automatic fault reporting and streetlight poles will be able to accommodate sensors for other low-cost smart city applications.

According to Northeast Group, a Washington DC-based research firm focusing on smart infrastructure, Telensa Planet is the world’s most deployed smart streetlight system, with a global footprint of more than one million lights. The system can be found managing smart streetlights in Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Moscow, as well as many towns and cities across the UK.

Read more: Smart streetlights may mean big savings in Cardiff

Booming market

Other smart streetlight systems are available of course, and collectively, they represent a booming market, according to Northeast Group. Over the next decade, the firm claims that the vast majority of streetlights will be converted to energy-saving LED [light-emitting diode] technology, and almost one-third (29 percent) will be networked to become ‘smart’, driving spending of some $ 64.2 billion, according to the firm’s study Global LED and Smart Street Lighting 2017-2027.

In fact, smart streetlight projects tend to be among the earlier signs that a city is serious about getting smarter. They represent the next wave of large-scale smart city and IoT deployments after smart metering and smart grid investments, says Northeast Group president Ben Gardner.

“In the past few years, smart streetlights have progressed from a nascent market to established early deployments of smart city infrastructure. Cities have embraced the technology and diverse vendors have entered the market, increasing the momentum for smart cities,” he says.

That’s creating a good deal of competition in this space, he adds. “As new smart city applications emerge, the number of players involved has increased. New communications options are bringing many telecom operators into the smart city space. They are joining established smart grid and lighting vendors who have already deployed millions of smart streetlights.”

Read more: Rongwen and Silver Spring team up on Chinese smart light network

Clear benefits

Smart streetlights, after all, have clear benefits; precisely the ones that the Wellington deployment is chasing: reduced energy use and maintenance cost and the opportunity for new sensors and applications. Says Gardner: “Cities are quickly realising their street lighting infrastructure is a critical asset that will enable a host of new smart city applications.”

According to Northeast Group’s report, which examines vendors’ market shares, current leaders are Telensa, Silver Spring Networks, Philips Lighting and Echelon. But a string of other hopefuls are out there, some large (such as AT&T, GE and Verizon) and some smaller (among them DimOnOff, Flashnet and Trilliant).

There’s plenty of opportunity here, because as smart streetlight options grow, so does the number of installed streetlights. Northeast Group believes that the worldwide total stands at around 317 million today, but will grow to 363 million by 2027. That’s a lot of smartness to install, with a great deal of potential benefits.

Read more: Smart lights ‘to be most popular IoT device in the next decade’ – Philips

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Cisco announces launch of $1 billion smart cities fund

Cisco is putting its money where its mouth is in terms of making cities smarter – by contributing $ 1 billion to a new program.

The City Infrastructure Financing Acceleration Program was announced at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, with Cisco working alongside Digital Alpha Advisors, a private equity firm, and pension fund investors APG Asset Management and Whitehelm Capital.

Alongside this, the company has added new functionality to its Cisco Kinetic for Cities digital platform. New features include an improved dashboard, full-policy automation options, and real-time notification of emergency information.

Naturally, Cisco has added several customers for its solution, one of whom being Cary, a town in North Carolina. In this instance, town officials are using Cisco’s platform to better gauge traffic, actively monitoring the number of available parking spots. Additionally, the town is also gleaning insights from the data it produces to best arrange the traffic during certain major events, such as election days.

The move comes about weeks after Cisco, alongside Siemens, was named as one of the leading smart city technology suppliers. The study, from Navigant Research, argued how the two leading companies have evolved and adapted their city offering. The two companies had also shown an ‘integrated perspective on urban innovation, strong sector-specific solutions, and a commitment to continued thought leadership and city engagement’, the report added.

“Funding is a major stumbling block for municipalities beginning their smart city transformation,” said Anil Menon, global president of Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities in a statement. “With our partners, Cisco will bring the capital and expertise it takes to make smart city projects a reality.”

Cisco’s primary rival in the news stakes at the Smart City Expo World Congress this week was Huawei. The Chinese provider is betting on its ‘nervous system’ to provide the infrastructure for smart cities; its theory is that a smart city is a living organism that works continuously to enhance the services of the city, using technologies such as cloud computing, big data, AI and IoT.

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Huawei gives update on smart cities ‘nervous system’ initiative

Huawei says its ‘nervous system’ implementation for smart cities has helped more than 100 areas.

The company compares the concept of a smart city to a living organism that works continuously to enhance the services of the city. Using new ICT, such as cloud computing, big data, IoT, and AI, drive unified coordination, cross-sector collaboration, and intelligent analysis for effective management of services in a smart city, Huawei says.

Participating at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2017 (SCEWC) in Barcelona, Spain, under the theme "Leading New ICT, Creating a Smart City Nervous System”, Huawei demonstrated the new ICT solution, together with its global partners, to connect the digital and physical worlds. Regular readers of this publication will already be aware of the ‘nervous system’ concept, having first been reported in September.

Huawei also exhibited some other comprehensive smart city solutions such as smart rubbish bins, smart streetlight, smart watering, smart building, smart metering, and smart healthcare. Huawei’s IoT platform, LiteOS operating system, and advanced technologies helps the company formulate ubiquitous sensing systems.  The Smart Campus Solution was also launched to drive industrial evolution and development.

“Huawei is committed to creating a strong nervous system that powers smart cities,” said Yan Lida, president of Huawei enterprise business group. “With our innovations and investment in various technologies, we develop an open platform for smart cities, which is compatible with various devices and supports a wide range of applications. We aim to be the rich soil that supports the robust and sustainable development of smart cities.

“Huawei is one of the few ICT solution providers in the industry that can offer end to end cloud-pipe-device solutions, leading the way to connecting the physical and digital worlds,” added Yan. “We will continue to work together with our ecosystem of partners to create top-level designs addressing city administrators’ needs and achieving the ultimate goals of a smart city – to enable good governance, promote industry development and deliver benefits for the people.”

Elsewhere, Inseego has announced integration with Current, powered by GE to deploy 3,200 intelligent CityIQ sensor nodes in San Diego, CA. The deployments, considered to be world's largest smart city IoT sensor platform installation, will help optimise traffic and parking as well as strengthen public safety and environmental awareness.

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Cisco announces $1 billion smart cities fund

Cisco announces $ 1 billion smart cities fund

Networking giant Cisco has announced a $ 1 billion programme aimed at helping cities around the globe invest in technologies to transform their communities.

Smart cities are creating lots of buzz, in the global drive towards less pollution, safer streets and better quality of life for residents. However, finance officers for hard-pressed municipalities often have limited resources to invest in solutions to make their cities smarter.

In response, Cisco has teamed up with private equity firm Digital Digital Alpha Advisors and pension fund investors APG Asset Management (APG) and Whitehelm Capital to make funding available.

Read more: Cambridge Consultants: Where’s my smart city?

Big funding

By accessing Cisco’s City Infrastructure Financing Acceleration Program, global cities will be able to fund and deploy innovative technology with minimal investment, and will get the expertise they need to choose the right technologies, according to the company.

In particular, Cisco is targeting cities that want to reduce energy usage, ease traffic and parking, and boost public transportation ridership and revenues.

There’s also a focus on revenue-share financing, which helps cities finance desired outcomes while extending future budgets as a result of new revenue streams.

Read more: NEC wins contract for Lisbon smart city project

Transforming cities

The company announced the news at the Smart City Expo World Congress today, which is taking place in Barcelona. It also unveiled a new addition to the Kinetic IoT data platform.

Called Kinetic for Cities, the feature helps city officials improve public safety. It offers full-policy automation options, as well as an improved dashboard with integrated video and updates.

The firm is looking to improve emergency response times, too. Its platform now provides real-time emergency information based on additional IoT data sources.

Read more: Kigali IoT network provides blueprint for African smart city initiatives

New opportunities

Terry Yates, infrastructure and network manager at the Town of Cary in North Carolina, said: “The Cisco Kinetic for Cities platform provides us the tools we need to positively affect our citizens’ lives.”

Anil Menon, global president of Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities, said: “Funding is a major stumbling block for municipalities beginning their smart city transformation.

“With our partners, Cisco will bring the capital and expertise it takes to make smart city projects a reality. Digital Alpha, APG, and Whitehelm Capital bring a fresh perspective on investment in an area that has previously been perceived as too new and, therefore, too difficult to finance.”

Mark West, business development manager at ByBox, said: “A smart city is one that uses data and technology to better serves the needs of the public, which promotes economic development in a sustainable way to improve infrastructure.

“IoT and smart cities are on a journey to transform modern life. These cities will only accelerate in the coming years with more research being conducted, as well as the UK’s Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport having allocated funding for smart city pilots.

Read more: Smart city development now a global phenomenon, says Navigant Research

Challenges ahead

West added: “Of course, this transformation brings with it additional challenges. As cities become more automated and technology-dependent, those in charge have to ask themselves how to ensure that when those systems break down or suffer an outage, they can be swiftly brought back up to speed again.

“Many of us face the uncertainty of driving up to a set of traffic lights and finding them to be down. Drivers either hesitantly drive to the junction or boldly assume they have right of way, but it causes confusion.

“When technology downtime could impact not just an intersection but a whole urban area, the issue of ensuring smart devices and automation are fixed quickly and efficiently is becoming increasingly important.”

Read more: San Diego to get $ 30 million smart city network

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Arkessa and Iotic Labs partner on Smart Cities

Arkessa and Iotic Labs partner on Smart Cities

Arkessa and Iotic Labs partner on Smart Cities

Arkessa, a leading MVNO Service Provider for Enterprise IoT has entered into a strategic alliance with Iotic Labs, who provide secure interoperability middleware for Smart Cities with a specific focus on Transport, Buildings and Facilities Management.

The partnership allows both companies to leverage their partner networks to accelerate and simplify the execution of smart city projects which are frequently impacted by the challenges of working with numerous technology providers, cross departmental boundaries, or conflicting business models.

IoT and Data Analytics are critical elements in Enterprise IoT and Smart City strategies but large scale deployments have been slow to materialise. Systems integration and data-brokering is particular fraught due to security concerns, integration issues or because Enterprises have not built a compelling business plan demonstrating technical and commercial scaling beyond the proof of concept stage.

Arkessa’s customer and partner network is testament that businesses can flourish under service-oriented business models. OPEX-based or Ad-funded strategies enable global Enterprises and Cities to incrementally build IoT solutions into their infrastructure and services.

The groundbreaking secure interoperability middleware from Iotic Labs enables data integration to happen more easily at the Cloud or Enterprise level by creating an Internet-like environment for Things. This is Iotic Space where data can be anonymously shared or exchanged in a way that enables Enterprises to augment their own device data and databases with data from other Enterprises, or even from public crowd-sourced data.

Andrew Orrock, Arkessa CEO said: “We are delighted to partner with Iotic Labs and welcome them to Arkessa’s ecosystem of leading edge partners. The team at Iotic take the novel approach that IoT should be more about accessing the right data and building business value from a hybrid data strategy where they combine Enterprises’ own IoT deployments and third-party data published anonymously and securely into Iotic Space.”

Robin Brattel, CEO at Iotic Labs said: “Arkessa is a leader in IoT and they have an incredible channel partner network which is already delivering value to Enterprise customers. We are excited to collaborate and connect IoT assets on a global scale.”

“An Iotic Labs overlay on Arkessa’s current M2M services connectivity, security, location and eUICC subscription management creates an exciting proposition for many sectors from the Smart City to Industry 4.0.”

Smart Cities Infographic

Smarter Solutions for Smart Cities – infographic courtesy of Raconteur

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