How Will Smart Cities Transform the Future?

Last week Cisco Systems hosted a Twitter chat at #SmartCityIoE to raise awareness of its Smart+Connected Communities initiative. “IoE” refers to the Internet of Everything, which Cisco describes as, “bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.”


The availability of these connections can potentially turn “information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.” In February, Cisco released a study that estimates a potential value of $14.4 trillion over the next decade for technology and services that connect people to people (P2P), machines to people (M2P) and machines to machines (M2M).

This value will be achieved by improvements in:

  • Asset utilization ($2.5 trillion)
  • Employee productivity ($2.5 trillion)
  • Supply chain and logistics ($2.7 trillion)
  • Customer experience ($3.7 trillion)
  • Innovation and time to market ($3.0 trillion)

This is happening today in the French city of Nice, where the Connected Boulevard uses technology to manage traffic, parking, waste, and pollution. In neighboring Spain, Barcelona has an even broader set of applications, including energy efficient and “aware” city blocks and public buildings, as well as rain water management and street lighting as a service.

Another, even grander foray into hyper-connectivity is South Korea’s $35 billion Songdo International City, a brand-new, 1,500-acre collaboration between Cisco, developer Gale International, and construction giant POSCO E&C. Smart-city services are expected to transform the city into a sustainable community. More than 10,000 TelePresence video conferencing units will enable leading-edge services in areas such as education, security, virtual learning, and concierge services.

These are some of what Cisco calls its “Iconic City” projects, which also include Toronto, Skolkova (Russia), London, Chengdu (China), Rio de Janeiro, and Lend Lease (Australia).

Cisco’s flagship Iconic City in the U.S. is Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla. The company recently hosted a Live Orlando event and media tour of the 7,000-acre master-planned community. Lake Nona will offer many of the services already mentioned, plus world-class education, recreational facilities, diverse workspaces, retail centers, entertainment choices, and residential options. Integration, coordination, and collaboration will take place between the numerous medical care and life sciences stakeholders within the Lake Nona Medical City that will define, design, and implement a unified lifelong medical care delivery system model.

Smart cities and the many new functions and services that will emerge from them, some organically and some by design, will undoubtedly provide countless opportunities for manufacturers to find new applications for their products in a hyper-connected context. It could be as simple as a dispenser that sends a message when it’s empty, or a medical device that communicates with health care aides. Machinery can be controlled from a smartphone, or tooling components can be equipped with electronic tags that help operators find on the shop floor.

But first, manufacturers need to ask themselves two questions.

  1. How can the immediate availability of a near-infinite source of both data and information improve the performance and usefulness of my products or services?
  2. How can my products or services be combined with this same level of information to provide a richer, more productive, more satisfying, and more valuable experience to my customers?

More broadly, what will all these changes mean to our society? Will all this technology threaten the character of our cities, detracting from what makes them great, with distracted citizens walking around staring at tiny screens and no longer talking to each other?

Anil Menon, Cisco’s president of Smart+Connected Communities and deputy chief globalization officer, told IMT: “Change is happening and cities are changing whether we like it or not… Technology is already changing the way we interact with employers, customers, partners, family members; it is already changing the way children learn, the way we transact business, arrange for services, buy goods, and gather information to choose what to eat, what to wear, [and] where to visit in the world… Technology may change some elements of how a city works, but if the cities’ leaders and citizens understand what makes that city great, then embracing effective technology solutions can enhance rather than detract from a city’s greatness.”

 

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