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Smart City

Peter Elliott and James Bennet
PA Consulting Group
European Communications
July 2009

Governments and communications companies can work together to give urban developments a global competitive advantage while offering new
revenue streams to CME companies say Peter Elliott and James Bennett

Vibrant and creative cities drive economic,social and cultural development. Governments focus on renovating existing cities and cultivating
new ones to act as a catalyst to development. This is now taking place on an unprecedented scale. The integration of ICT with development projects
can change the urban landscape by developing the Smart City. The Smart City can enhance the lives of citizens, encourage business to invest, and create a sustainable urban environment. City governments have an opportunity to ensure ICT infrastructure is integrated with the changing city, and communications companies can support this vision to mutual advantage.

The Smart City requires a ubiquitous ultra-high speed network infrastructure, fixed and wireless, that allows people, business and government to connect
with each other and the systems that manage the infrastructure and services of the city. The network provides valuable real-time data about the urban environment to Smart City applications and ser vice providers.

Importantly, this information is:

  • context sensitive

  • location sensitive

  • personal

  • secure

This information can enable a myriad number of services:

  • Transport – traffic flow management,speed control,congestion charging, information systems, vehicle tracking, onboard safety

  • Public safety and security – access control systems,alarm monitoring, emergency warning and situation management

  • Transactions – electronic funds transfer

  • Public services – remote patient monitoring, patient records management, education/ learning networks

  • Identity – biometric/smart card systems

  • Utilities – facilities management, climate control,meter monitoring, energy generation and storage management, leak detection and network management

  • Environment – data collection and monitoring.

Many of these services are envisioned today and some have been implemented in isolation with limited capability. However the intelligence and integration of the Smart City infrastructure can:

  • Enhance the social environment – by integrating community services such as health, education, identity and payment systems

  • Manage the built environment more efficiently – homes, buildings, public spaces, transport systems and utilities – to predict and respond to changing conditions, enhancing quality of life and minimising

  • Offer consumers innovative services – the fastest internet access and innovative services available from any location, indoors and outdoors

  • Provide world-leading services to businesses – zero latency data connectivity, secure networks, low cost hosting and storage that make the city an attractive place to do business.

The Smart City infrastructure can therefore change the way the city is managed, improving delivery of public services and enhancing the lives of citizens. It can make a city a more attractive place to do business, not only by providing the infrastructure and services required by businesses but also by making a city a more attractive and prestigious place to live and work.

This is a key concern for multinationals that want to attract talent from a global talent pool. ICT can also help a city move to a sustainable future. Operational efficiency,reducing commuting times for example, can help this, but changing the way people live and work will also drive the development of the 21st century urban environment.

Competitive markets for provision of ICT infrastructure and services have developed in most countries around the world. However commercial service providers alone are unlikely to be able to deliver the ubiquitous high-speed access and shared platforms that will enable governments, business and citizens to realise the benefits of the Smart City. Local monopoly operators or duopolies have no incentive to create an open access network infrastructure that disturbs a potentially lucrative status quo. Competitive operators may have difficulty making the business case stack up without intervention from the public sector interested. in the broader benefits that a Smart City can deliver. There may therefore be a role for the public sector in directing investment.

City governments can respond in different ways, reflecting different degrees of confidence in the ability of a competitive market to deliver appropriate services to end users. Examples of the implementation of open access fibre networks show how approaches can differ:

  • In Stockholm a subsidiary of the municipality manages a city-wide passive fibre network that is open for use by all service providers to provide ultra-high speed services to homes and businesses

  • In Amsterdam the city government is working with commercial investors to build the passive fibre infrastructure. The municipality has selected a commercial operator to install equipment and provide capacity to service providers on an open access basis

  • In Singapore the government is promoting a similar model to Amsterdam, but offering subsidies to two commercial operators to build a passive fibre network and provide capacity to service providers. The government has also split the island into three areas and offered ISPs concessions to provide blanket WiFi coverage of public spaces such as parks and shopping centres.

The implementation of Smart City infrastructure creates opportunities for commercial service providers to build new revenues, either by providing the supporting infrastructure for Smart City applications, or by using this infrastructure to offer services to government, business or consumer markets. Governments and businesses can therefore work together to develop the ICT sector at the same time as offering urban developments the opportunity to build a competitive advantage in a crowded global market for cities.

Peter Elliott and James Bennet, PA Consulting, 

Contact the telecommunications team

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