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Smart Cities... the need for Smart Engineers and even Smarter Suppliers

30th January - Valencia.

Recent reports have estimated that by 2025 the Smart City market value will be $2 trillion and global spending on Smart Cities initiatives will reach $189.5 billion by 2023. There are 7.7 billion people on the planet today, and every year our global population grows by around 1.08% – or around 82 million people. It is estimated that by 2050, 80% of the world’s population will be living in cities.

According to Frost and Sullivan the creation of Smart Cities enables a smooth transition to urbanization, with technological advances helping municipalities optimize resources for maximum value to the population, whether that value is financial, savings in time, or improvement in quality of life. The top priorities for these initiatives will be resilient energy and infrastructure projects followed by data-driven public safety and intelligent transportation. Artificial intelligence (AI), personalized healthcare, robotics, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and distributed energy generation are believed to be the technological cornerstones of Smart Cities of the future. Yet the path to Smart City utopia is likely to be a bumpy ride. 

Vijay Narayanan, Visionary Innovation Senior Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, states, “Currently most Smart City models provide solutions in silos and are not interconnected. The future is moving toward integrated solutions that connect all verticals within a single platform. IoT is already paving the way to allow for such solutions.”

Kim Hart of Axios reports that the journey to Smart Cities is already off to a slow start because many projects are stuck in pilot phases and cities are unable to find the skilled workers to keep them going. The hurdles to municipal adoption of technologies such as use data, sensors and software applications (IoT) include:

Pilot purgatory where ‘proof of concept’ pilot programmes not getting future planning or longer term commitment. In addition, worries over Cybersecurity, Data Siloes and lack of available high Skilled Workers where Government departments are competing with big tech firms to attract the best engineering skills.

As a result, projects can get further delays, reprioritised or even completely ‘canned’ making development a very slow moving beast.

Professor Henrietta Moore, Founder and Director, Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London also argues that engineering for Smart Cities should be smarter, as she states, “Our current vision of ‘Smart Cities’ too often focuses on adding technologies that don’t necessarily make cities better places to live. The cities we know now need to change and adapt to accommodate for this. How will we ensure they do so in a way that improves the quality of life its residents?”

“As more of us live in cities, we are becoming increasingly aware of the elements beyond our immediate control that impact upon our wellbeing: be that air pollution, amount of and access to green space, or transport. The difficulties of being healthy in an urban context are now recognised the world over.”

“One of our greatest engineering challenges today then is: how do we create an ecological city of the future that is beneficial for us to live in? One that is supported by science and technology, rather than suffers from it? Designing Smart Cities is a challenge for engineers, as it forces them to rethink their approach to the urban landscape, and acknowledge and address social elements to greater extent. At its heart, engineering should begin with ethics – with equity, quality of life and improvement. It ought to be progressive, but not progressivist. In other words, engineering should aim to offer opportunities to build the capacities and capabilities of infrastructure that matter to people.”

To get a Smart City vision over the line it is essential to work with the right partners who can provide the necessary experience and innovation to advance engineering projects, smoothly and efficiently.  Expertise and trust in the key areas of Smart City technological infrastructure and IoT application development means that city inhabitants can look forward to a healthy, high quality lifestyle. 

Crucial to any Smart City plan of action realisation is the ability to find the right calibre of high quality skilled engineers, not just in the initial ‘proof of concept’ phase, but also in delivering the roll-out implementation. Whilst there is a worldwide shortage in the supply of this valuable resource, it will need expert help from companies like CIS Electronics Engineering to deliver highly skilled engineers to keep the Smart City plan on track.

Back in the mid-2000s CIS began working with a range of customers in the Smart Meter market, helping to design and develop a range of solutions including Zigbee Protocol Stacks, Secure Element, M2M, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G LTE Protocol Stacks and much more. These technologies laid the groundwork for much of the modern Smart City and IOT Ecosystems. Today they can add Low Energy, Automotive IoT, 5G, Smart Grid and Advanced IoT Security projects to the list.

Smart City development is not an easy ride and there will always be challenges along the road, which means Governments must work alongside the best practice partners to ensure success.

Contact Hollie Webber: holliew@cis-ee.com to find smarter engineers to help your Smart City and IoT journey.