Maximpact Blog

What Makes a City Smart?

The outlines of an autonomous car, 2017 (Photo by Automobile Italia) Creative Commons License via Flickr.

The outlines of an autonomous car, 2017 (Photo by Automobile Italia) Creative Commons License via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

NEW YORK, New York, October 2, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – By 2050 cities are forecast to be inhabited by 6.5 billion people, and making cities smarter to accommodate the population boom is on the minds of transportation experts around the world.

Intelligent traffic management systems, connected and autonomous electric vehicles, ride-hailing services, parking apps and all-electric public transit and commercial fleets promise benefits such as less congestion, improved access to transit and better air quality.

Cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) will serve as the foundation for vehicles to communicate with each other and everything around them, providing 360º non-line-of-sight awareness and a higher level of predictability for enhanced road safety and autonomous driving.

Smart City creation is dependent on the same technologies underlying the Internet of Things (Iot).

The IoT is expected to transform mobility with more ride-sharing, less road congestion and greater mobility for the disabled. Commercial fleets can run at non-peak hours, and autonomous vehicles operating through the IoT will use roads more efficiently, giving commuters more free time.

“Code is the new concrete for 21st century cities and we need a digital infrastructure to share data and create safer and more sustainable streets,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation in the Bloomberg administration, and an advisor on transportation and urban issues.

Sadik-Khan supports the SharedStreets platform first funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and developed by the National Association of City Transportation Officials and the Open Transport Partnership.

SharedStreets is a neutral, anonymous clearinghouse for data collected by transportation providers, private companies and government agencies. It is a hub for data analysis, traffic planning, street design and development of new technologies for a smarter future.

“The SharedStreets platform offers cities and private sector players a powerful new data sharing tool to make that future possible,” says Sadik-Khan.

C40 Cities estimates that the global smart city market is expected to grow to $1.6 trillion within the next three years. But it will take citizen engagement, data sharing, and collaborations of all kinds, whether city-city, city-state, city-federal or public-private.

From Australia, Zoe Eather, host of The Smart City Podcast  and founding member of Smart Cities Council Emerging Innovators, says, “Smart will look different in different places, different projects and from different perspectives, but essentially we need to co-create a shared vision. A vision that is Smart, a vision where we focus on what the community wants/needs/desires and a vision where we utilize the most relevant and appropriate technology to enable this. We do this to make cities, spaces and places more accessible, livable and just cool places to be.”

Smart City Events This Fall Worldwide

  • Smart Cities Week is happening October 2-4 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, organized by the Smart Cities Council.

This year’s theme is Collaboration: the cornerstone of the smart city.

Tracks this year include: Re-imagining transportation, Enlightened financing, The smart workforce, Data for civic good, and Smart infrastructure. All five tracks include sessions highlighting collaborations between city and city, city and state, city and federal, and public-private.

Jesse Berst, founder and chairman, Smart Cities Council, has explained smart cities this way, “You’re not really a Smart City until you’ve made all the aspects of urban life smart and you’ve interconnected them all. We’re not there yet; in each of those individual silos there are wonderful examples, but we haven’t put it all together. It’ll be 20 or 30 years and it’ll be an ongoing journey.”

Washington is not the only Smart Cities Week the Council is hosting. Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley took place May 7-9 in Santa Clara, California, attended by mayors from across the USA. A workshop on using the science of wellbeing to guide the evolution of a smart city was one of the most popular as participants learned how cities can leverage the power of data to improve livability, workability and sustainability.

  • On October 3-4 the TU-Automotive West Coast Conference is scheduled for San Jose, California in Silicon Valley. The event is organized by KNect365, a division of Informa, a multinational events and publishing company based in London, UK.

Public-private data partnerships are on the agenda, as is a workshop titled, Edge v Cloud: Processing the Data Hoard, which focuses on the transfer of data to make real-time decisions in connected and autonomous vehicles.

There’s a lot of interest in a workshop called, Blockchain: From Hype to Application, which will explore what Blockchain is and what this technology brings when applied to connected cars and mobility solutions.

Participants will learn how Blockchain allows the creation of digital ledgers with un-tamperable data, increasing transparency, security and preventing counterfeits by techniques such as putting tags in products.

They will learn to use Blockchain’s decentralization properties, how a network of nodes opens up to third parties and new services, and the benefits of running in totally decentralized ways.

  • On October 16-17, the ADAS and Autonomous Vehicles USA Conference is taking place at the Suburban Collection Showplace, a convention and expo center in Novi, Michigan, 20 miles west-northwest of Metro Detroit.

ADAS stands for advanced driver-assistance systems, and the event will focus on “the here and now of self-driving technology,” organizers say.

  • At the end of October, for three days, October 29-31, the Smart Cities Council is hosting Smart Cities Week Australia, in Sydney. The event will be filled with boardroom discussions on the smart state, cybersecurity, digital built environment and innovation districts; masterclasses on building your IoT strategy, creating public places and spaces of the future and engaging in next generation utilities; a showcase stage for innovators; and a research forum bringing government, academia and industry together to explore the role of research in accelerating smart cities.
  •  Smart Cities Summit is planned for October 29-30 in Atlanta, Georgia. This event, too, is organized by KNect365.

For the first time, Smart Cities Summit will be co-located with Internet of Things (IoT) events – both Industrial IoT World and the IoT Blockchain Summit, to provide more opportunities for shared learning and networking.

The Summit will explore 10 steps to smart city readiness; public-private partnerships, sustainable infrastructure, 5G, and ecomobility. Speakers will share insights on new disruptive technologies, innovation procurement and bringing together small and large cities to build on collaboration.

The event will focus on what makes a city more livable, sustainable, resilient, inclusive and smarter with a focus on people. It is intended to reinforce the smart community all over the world.

Five main topics are on the agenda: Digital Transformation, Urban Environment, Mobility, Governance and Finance, and Inclusive and Sharing Cities.

The Smart Mobility Congress, the International Integrated Water Cycle Show (Iwater), the Circular Economy European Summit and the Sharing Cities Summit will be held in parallel to the SCEWC, creating synergies between the co-located events.

“It’s the place to find ways together with cities to accelerate the deployment of smart city projects,” says Ralf Nejedl, senior vice president B2B Europe, Deutsche Telekom.

Smart City Explorations

“With the emergence of shared autonomous mobility, connected infrastructure, and smart city technologies, the prospects for an urban intermodal transportation ecosystem that is faster, cheaper, cleaner, and safer appear to be just over the horizon,” writes Doug Peeples, a Portland, Oregon-based writer, on the Smart Cities Council website.

Cities throughout the world have many approaches to integrated mobility:

In September 2016, New York City advanced to phases 2 and 3 of the Connected Vehicle Pilot program managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, a national effort to deploy, test, and activate mobile and roadside technologies and enable multiple connected vehicle applications.

Phase 2 was a 20-month period to design, build, and test the wireless in-vehicle, mobile device, and roadside technologies. Phase 3 is an 18-month evaluation period where the effectiveness of the deployment will be tested. Both phases are being carried out on a $18.6 million award from the U.S. DOT under the Obama Administration.

Columbus, Ohio, winner of the U.S. DOT’s Smart City Challenge, will build a Smart Columbus Operating System to provide near-real-time data on traffic conditions throughout the city. The city will later expand the system to all smart city operations and services.

Singapore’s Intelligent Transport System keeps tabs on traffic congestion charges and electronic road pricing and monitors traffic with road sensors and GPS apps in taxis, and sends the information to a control center that relays that information to travelers.

Residents of Helsinki, Finland can use Whim, a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) app, that allows them to plan their trips and pay for their rides – be it a bike, train, taxi, bus or car share.

The city of Cascais, Portugal, a popular travel destination, offers a similar service for residents and visitors. Several cities and private sector operators are looking at ways to adopt MaaS to their unique circumstances.

The city of Olympia, Washington, in April launched new parking management software and technology to make it easier for citizens to pay for parking permits and apply for them. The city is phasing in a Pay-by-Phone system that will allow payment by smart phone at city parking meters and notify users when the meter is about to expire so they can add time remotely.

The city of Dallas, Texas, is exploring ways to integrate smart technologies into street rehabilitation projects that could include smart-powered lanes to provide in-road charging for electric vehicles. Other options are traffic controls that regulate traffic lights according to traffic flow and LED street lights equipped with multiple sensors.

Chicago and AT&T have been working together on approaches and technologies to make the city more connected, smarter, livable and manageable. Chicago was one of the first cities selected for the smart cities program the company launched last year.

AT&T and Chicago will field test smart transit shelters that include free WiFi, digital displays that track and update bus arrival times and intelligent lighting. Smart kiosks will offer USB charging ports and touch screens that provide travel, weather and public safety information. For the pilot, three bus shelters and five kiosks will be installed around the city.

RUGGEDISED is a smart city project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. It brings together three lighthouse cities: Rotterdam, Netherlands; Glasgow, Scotland; and Umeå, Sweden and three follower cities: Brno, Czech Republic; Gdansk, Poland; and Parma, Italy to test, implement and accelerate the smart city model across Europe.

Working in partnership with businesses and research centers, these six cities will demonstrate how to combine  information and communications technology (ICT), ecomobility and energy solutions to design smart, resilient cities.

“In order for urban data platforms to progress, cities must bridge this gap and have a clear vision about how to take the platform beyond just making data sources available, by connecting data sources with app developers and enabling the creation and exchange of value on the platform,” says Dr. Haydee Sheombar, research consultant and coach at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

Data from 34 European cities’ urban data platforms have been gathered and analyzed on the stage of development, the vision behind these platforms, the design of business and technology, implementation barriers and accelerators, and the platforms’ use and impact.

Each urban data platform exploits modern digital technologies to integrate data flows within and across city systems. They make data resources accessible to participants in a city’s ecosystem.

“Both technical and social contracts are crucial,” says RSM MSc student Denis Ceric, who researched citizen engagement in urban platforms in Rotterdam, Munich, and Barcelona. He says that before cities can encourage citizen engagement, their urban data platforms must first define the role of citizens and their understanding of ideas such as data ownership and privacy.

Connected vehicles communicate with each other and everything around them such as traffic lights, road signs and wearables. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation) Public domain.

Connected vehicles communicate with each other and everything around them such as traffic lights, road signs and wearables. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation) Public domain.

Mobility Providers Share Critical Data

Ford Motor Company and the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have made an unprecedented commitment to SharedStreets, a new data platform that makes it easier for the private sector to work with cities and leverage data to improve urban mobility.

The data sets pledged by the companies will provide the public and private sectors with new tools to manage curb space in order to reduce congestion and emissions that cause climate change; improve the efficiency of city streets by making it easier for everyone to get around; and save lives by preventing traffic crashes.

The public-private partnership is the result of a collaboration with NACTO, the Open Transport Partnership and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the consortium behind the innovative SharedStreets data platform.

This collaborative effort to build 21st-century streets was announced by Jim Hackett, Ford CEO; Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, and John Zimmer, Co-founder and President of Lyft, on September 26 at the second annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York City.

The partnership gives mayors unparalleled access to road traffic data, allowing them to make better planning and investment decisions as shared and autonomous mobility arrive in their cities.

The agreement also fills a long-missing link for mobility companies by providing a common standard for sharing data across all cities, where local requirements vary widely.

Launched earlier this year with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, SharedStreets is a universal data language for sharing information about city streets and a launching pad for public-private collaboration to manage streets, reduce traffic deaths, and prepare cities for the unprecedented technological advancement emerging in cities.

Already operating in over 30 cities around the world, the SharedStreets platform and this new partnership will provide city leaders with far-reaching new instruments for managing transportation networks.

Under the new partnership, Uber and Lyft will release vehicle speed data from cities around the world. With this data, cities can identify exactly where people are speeding or driving dangerously, so that they can redesign streets and save lives.

Uber will include this speed data in an update of its open-source Kepler.gl tool, providing cities everywhere with innovative new tools for data visualization and information sharing.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for business and government to work together to rethink transportation,” said Hackett. “Collaborating through initiatives such as Shared Streets will enable us to use vehicles, road systems and data together to create a new roadmap for mobility. We are working toward a future where all cities are smart and curb space is actively managed, increasing efficiency and safety, while reducing driver stress and pollution.”

For the first time, the SharedStreets platform overcomes long-standing legal, regulatory and technological barriers between the public and private sectors by converting today’s ad hoc, disparate transportation data sources into a mutually readable, shared, global standard.

“The private and public sectors need to come together and collaborate on ways to create smarter, safer and more efficient transportation systems,” said Uber’s Khosrowshahi. “It’s the responsibility of companies like ours to step up and support cities in every way we can – whether that’s through data sharing, urban planning research, funding for nonprofits, or even through the introduction of new and more efficient forms of transportation like electric bicycles.”

“Lyft is in a unique position to drive positive change within our cities, and we take that responsibility seriously” said Lyft’s Zimmer. “We look forward to collaborating with regulators to expand affordable mobility options, taking cars off the road and reducing congestion, and ultimately reshaping cities around people – not cars.”

In addition to launching the new tools and partnerships, NACTO, representing 74 cities and transit agencies across North America, and global cities from Paris to Melbourne, formally endorsed the data sharing policies of SharedStreets, committing to working collaboratively with the private sector.

Michael Bloomberg said, “Ride-share and auto companies have been gathering an enormous amount of data on transportation and traffic. Now, cities will be able use it to find new ways to manage congestion, reduce carbon emissions, prevent traffic crashes, and prepare for the arrival of autonomous vehicles.”

5G, the Key to Smart Cities

Fast download speeds are the start; the fifth-generation wireless network can put smart city transformation into overdrive.

The next big leap in telecommunications, 5G performance targets include high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity and massive device connectivity.

T-Mobile US has plans to build 5G networks in 30 cities this year and launch those commercially in 2019.

In Sweden, the RUGGEDISED Lighthouse city of Umeå has been chosen as the country’s first 5G city. Erasmus University will be the first 5G university in Europe.

5G technology can manage large amounts of data in new and more advanced ways. It gives extremely fast connections with very low delay and improved security compared to what current networks can offer, at a lower cost with reduced energy consumption.

“5G is a big leap in wireless communications that will open up a world in which everything can communicate with each other,” says Channa Seneviratne, executive director of network infrastructure engineering at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company.

Seneviratne says 5G is fundamental to autonomous vehicles because, “AVs will be able to connect with everything around them such as traffic lights, road signs and wearables, and make better safety decisions as a result.”

Seneviratne says 5G networks will “bring the smart city to life.”


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