Smart city requires platform of platforms approach

23 Mar 2018

In what is anticipated to be a very crowded IoT platform ecosystem, multiple vendors are targeting the smart cities vertical with optimized and dedicated solutions and vying for dominance in this very promising segment.

This was the conclusion reached by ABI Research as part of its Smart City Platforms and Standards study.

The research firm acknowledged that established players will excel in specific areas. For instance Cisco and Verizon will excel in the width and depth of functionality offered across the value chain and vertical segments.

Others vendors like IBM and Bosch are embracing next-generation technologies like AI, blockchain, and sensor data crowdsourcing to enable a new urban economy based on sharing, service, and cognitive business models for smart city services like community-based parking, automated surveillance cams, and blockchain-enabled freight tracking.

Dominique Bonte, Vice President End Markets at ABI Research, cautioned that this is not the end of it. He noted that to really enable holistic smart city solutions and manage dynamic technology lifecycles, city governments increasingly rely on vendor-agnostic standardized and/or open source platforms.

“InterDigital’s Chordant’s adherence to the oneM2M standard and FIWARE’s open source API approach offer the promise of flexible, pay as you grow, future-proof solutions enabling yet unknown applications and services. Standardization organizations like ETSI are also actively preparing smart city data and platform standards,” he explained.

In addition, generic, horizontal IoT platforms offered by carriers, network infrastructure vendors, and other suppliers are also targeted at the smart cities vertical. But these often lack specific functionality required by the public sector. At the other end of the spectrum, city platforms built around specific verticals such as energy, buildings, utilities, or transportation are offered by players like Itron, Siemens, Schneider Electric, GE, and Hitachi. These players are typically focused on OT rather than IT.

Finally, product or technology specific smart city platforms include solutions built around cloud technology (Amazon / AWS, IBM, Microsoft), IT (SAP, NEC, HPE), AI surveillance (NVIDIA), connectivity modules (Telit), cellular connectivity (carriers), and smart lighting (Philips).

Ultimately, no single platform will be able to offer all features for all verticals in a smart city environment characterized by a “platform of platforms” approach, with open, interoperable platforms interacting with and complementing each other in a “system of systems” constellation and open ecosystem.

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