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EITA Smart Cities Forum

The Supermoon in Hoboken, NJ.
(Downtown New York City, meet the Supermoon in Hoboken, NJ - Jeff M. Wang)

 Smart Cities - Driving A Digital Economy




"We live in a world experiencing economic turmoil, climate change, aging populations, and rapid urbanization. But we also live in the midst of tremendous technological innovations that have the potential to address the issues that challenge every city." -- (CISCO) 

"Achieving sustainable urbanization, together with the preservation of our planet’s fragile ecosystem, is recognized as one of the major challenges for humanity in the coming decades. Cities are responsible for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and they are accountable for 60-80% of global energy consumption, contributing to environmental degradation locally, regionally and globally. These percentages are expected to rise with the growing population rates in terms of migration and increasing birth rates." -- (ITU-T)  

Cities around the world are currently under quick transition towards a low carbon environment, high quality of living, and resource efficient economy. We need to make our cities more efficient and safe with smart technology that gives us information about the environment and what’s going on in it. Nowadays, smart cities are considered as an effective way to support the economic growth, while controlling climatic changes and adapting novel technologies to improve the quality of life of urban citizens. 

The Rise of the Smart City

In the last 50 years, world population has grown exponentially at an average rate of 1.2% per year. By 2050, it is expected that approximately 70% of the world's population (9.7 billion people) will be living in urban areas. Each year, the percentage of people over the age of 60 increases. By 2050, the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to triple and will outnumber children under 15 for the first time in human history. 

"Cities in the 21st century will account for nearly 90% of global population growth, 80% of wealth creation, and 60% of total energy consumption." -- (MIT) Trying to manage the rapid expansion of cities and metropolitan regions presents challenges for governments, businesses and policymakers as they look for new ways to support the needs and safety of the people, develop sustainable infrastructures, enable economic growth and stability. The cities that will flourish the most are those that rely on cutting-edge technologies and create opportunities for people to develop new ones. It is a global imperative to develop systems that improve the livability of cities while dramatically reducing resource consumption. Making cities resilient against disease outbreaks, man-made crises, and natural disasters is the key to the 21st century. The process of urbanization has become so important that it has become a catalyst in the transformation of major cities to smart cities.  More specifically, these cities are planning to evolve from rather passive cities into smart cities.

Smart Cities and Urban Computing

Cities have always been hubs of technological experimentation, shaped by the people who inhabit them and the tools they use. A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets – the city’s assets include, but are not limited to, local departments' information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services. Urban performance depends not only on the city's endowment of hard infrastructure, but also on the availability and quality of knowledge communication and social infrastructure. The goal of building a smart city is to improve quality of life by using urban informatics and technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs. 

Smart cities are a future reality for municipalities around the world. They are creative, innovative, conceptual, and city-wide technology-human-infrastructure integration platforms. The next wave of real-time technologies that will define the next decade are software (rather than hardware) upgrades to the city that will nonetheless transform the way we work, play and live in our physical environments - our cities. "Today, academic research and industrial applications in the area of smart cities seek to optimize existing city infrastructure, networks, and urban behavior through the deployment and utilization of digital networks. Cities that employ optimization techniques have reported improvements in energy efficiency, water use, public safety, road congestion, and many other areas." -- (MIT) 

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have the capacity to enable processes of urban transformation, by helping cities become smarter and more sustainable. These cities will use the power of smart computing, ubiquitous communication networks, highly distributed wireless sensor technology, Internet of Things, cloud computing, security and privacy, social computing, cognitive computing, cyber-physical systems, virtual reality, big data analytics, video analytics with intelligent computer vision, intelligent management systems, etc. to solve current and future challenges and create exciting new services. Especially, "Artificial intelligence (AI) has already transformed our lives - from the autonomous cars on the roads to the robotic vacuums and smart thermostats in our homes.  Over the next 15 years, AI technologies will continue to make inroads in nearly every aspect of our lives, from education to entertainment, healthcare to security." -- (Harvard University) 

(San Francisco, California, U.S.A. - Jeffrey M. Wang)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology and Big Data are Building Smarter Cities

At the heart of the smart city is the ability to connect the dots between ICT and basic services, and to innovate in using technology to deliver better services to citizens. The innovative use of data helps provide better and more inventive services to improve people’s lives and make the entire city run more smoothly.

The first step in a city becoming a smart city is collecting more and better data. If an organization doesn’t start with good data, trying to make predictions about how new government policies will work can end up deeply flawed or even counterproductive. Helping cities gather and process data is one place AI is currently being put to use. 

Smart city technologies integrate and analyze massive amounts of data to anticipate, mitigate, and even prevent many problems. There are millions of devices already deployed in cities, and billions more coming, that can make a city smarter by collecting data on traffic, weather, energy, and water usage, and much more, often in real-time. That data can be analyzed and the resulting knowledge put to work to understand what’s happening now and predict what will happen in the future. 

There are three major categories of applications how governments and companies are using AI right now in cities: helping government officials learn more about how people use cities, improving infrastructure and optimizing the use of these resources, and improving public safety in cities. For example, monitoring traffic patterns might alert city planners of the future need for a widened lane or new traffic light. Knowing this information well in advance will allow cities to contract with construction firms in plenty of time with detailed information on where new traffic implementations will be most effective. Potential advancements include the areas of management of water, energy, energy efficiency, smarter healthcare, solid waste, public safety, public transport, traffic and congestion, smart parking, growth of ICT infrastructure and its environmental impacts, vertical farming (urban farming), air quality monitoring, etc.. ICT is the central nervous system of smart cities. 

Smart City and Industry 4.0

The digital revolution has brought with it a new way of thinking about manufacturing and operations. Emerging challenges associated with logistics and energy costs are influencing global production and associated distribution decisions. Significant advances in technology, including big data and analytics, AI, Internet of Things, robotics and additive manufacturing, are shifting the capabilities and value proposition of global manufacturing. In response, manufacturing and operations require a digital renovation: the value chain must be redesigned and retooled and the workforce retrained. Total delivered cost must be analyzed to determine the best places to locate sources of supply, manufacturing and assembly operations around the world. In other words we need a digital transformation. 

Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a "smart factory". It is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Following nine pillars of technological advancement underpin Industry 4.0: Big Data and Analytics, Autonomous Robots, Simulation, Horizontal and Vertical System Integration, the Industrial Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, the Cloud, Additive Manufacturing, and Augmented Reality. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) shall be used for the development of so–called smart products. Sub-components of the product are equipped with their own intelligence. Added intelligence is used both during the manufacturing of a product as well as during subsequent handling, up to continuous monitoring of the product lifecycle (smart processes). Other important aspects of the Industry 4.0 are Internet of Services (IoS), which includes especially intelligent transport and logistics (smart mobility, smart logistics), as well as Internet of Energy (IoE), which determines how the natural resources are used in proper way (electricity, water, oil, etc.). IoT, IoS, Internet of People (IoP) and IoE can be considered as an element that can create a connection of the smart city initiative and Industry 4.0 – Industry 4.0 can be seen as a part of smart cities. 

Enabling Smart Cities with a Smart ICT Infrastructure

Our future is a world of connected devices. That means enormous needs for infrastructure, speed and support. As envisioned, the connected world uses a combination of hardware, software, data and services to connect all of our devices, appliances and equipment allowing them to operate together. The applications are nearly limitless including smart grids, homes, cities, transportation networks, healthcare devices, automobiles and many services and ideas not yet conceived.

The right ICT infrastructure will affect the way each city will be created and evolve. And it will enable smart cities to include vastly enhanced sustainable areas. Ultra-broadband, cloud and M2M applications provide innovative and cost-effective ways to manage millions of devices that enrich the lives of citizens and attract businesses. 

There are 10 key elements that define a smart city: smart economy, smart living, smart governance, smart building, smart healthcare, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart energy and smart citizens. All of which can be provided by prudent applications of ICT. 

Network Infrastructure for Smart Cities

The coming wireless revolution is bigger than anything you can imagine. There is no denying that mobile data consumption is exploding, and all of our future technologies will require vastly faster, ubiquitous wireless connectivity. Bandwidth has become the lifeblood of cities. It’s really the base technology that all others are built on. We are now in the early stages the next technological revolution: the development of a ubiquitous wireless network that will marry data collection and computation with billions of devices. The smart city is underpinned by the uninterrupted and reliable flow of data from interconnected wired and wireless networks. When data needs to be real-time, it absolutely cannot be interrupted or bogged down by latency problems. Fortunately, the coming age of 5G mobile networks brings with it a new capability to combat disruption and makes sure that the various requirements for latency, bandwidth, and reliability for different services can be met all on the same physical network. It’s called network slicing. 5G allows for significant performance enhancements and the ability for mobile network operators (MNOs) to virtually partition–or slice–the network to guarantee the required performance for various applications. The process will allow networks to be broken up into numerous portions that can be managed independently, customized, and, most importantly, not affect one another if one portion is overloaded or down. 

5G Wireless Technology

5G wireless technology will change the way we communicate, the way we do business, the way we do everything! 5G has the potential to make cities into smart cities. Nearly every branch of industry will benefit from 5G because the new opportunities will improve communication and cooperation in every respect. The impact of 5G will extend well beyond telecommunications: by connecting people, machines and things on a massive scale. It will become the underlying fabric of an entire ecosystem of fully connected sensors and devices, capable of overhauling economic and business policies, and further blurring geographical and cultural borders. 5G will facilitate the delivery of personalized healthcare and support an aging society, it will help optimize transports and logistics, it will enhance access to culture and education for all, and it may virtually revolutionize public services, etc.. 5G will be capable of delivering at every rung of the ecosystem’s ladder, and provide seamless, continuous connectivity for business applications. 

Cloud-based and Internet of Things (IoT)-based Services

Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of compute power, database storage, applications, and other IT resources through a cloud services platform via the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. On the other hand, IoT concept envisions a new generation of devices (sensors, both virtual and physical) that are connected to the Internet and provide different services for value-added applications. 

Smart city technologies promote cloud-based and Internet of Things (IoT) based services in which real-world user interfaces use smart phones, sensors and RFIDs. Cloud computing and IoT are presently two most important ICT models that are shaping the next generation of computing. Both concepts have major impact on how we build and deploy smart applications/solutions for smart cities. 

Big Data and Analytics in Smart Cities

As populations grow and resources become scarcer, the efficient usage of these limited goods becomes more important. Smart cities are a key factor in the consumption of materials and resources. Big data analytics examines large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights. With today’s technology, it’s possible to analyze big data and get answers from it almost immediately. Smart cities are focused on controlling available resources safely, sustainably, and efficiently to improve the economy and societal outcomes. 

People, systems, and things in the cities generate data. Thus, data from various resources are considered to be the most scalable asset of a smart city. However, the heterogeneity of data makes it difficult to publish, organize, discover, interpret, combine, analyze, and consume. Certainly, data are big and comes from heterogeneous environments such as water, energy, traffic, and buildings. 

In smart cities, various municipals and state agencies generate heterogeneous data with minimal or no coordination. Thus, the challenges arise with the early stages of big data in smart cities hinder the progress towards the latter stages i.e. data analytics, query answering, data visualization, etc.. In order to tackle these challenges and issues, the existing techniques in big data analytics for smart cities are still immature. 

Smart City Crowdsourcing

The goals for a smart city are to enhance the quality of its citizens, across multiple dimensions (but not limited to) such as water, energy, transport, education, environment, mobility, waste management, public safety, affordable housing and health care, and creative economy. A smart future for our cities is not just one where technology has generated better resource management or improved access to public services; it is one where we live more collaboratively. Smart cities connect citizens to local government and encourage more direct participation, interaction, and collaboration.  

Crowdsourcing will play a major role in shaping the smart cities of the future. Smart cities need not only government commitment, but also engagement from citizens and the collaboration of the private sector in order to succeed. Smart cities need smarter citizens. New platforms are being developed to link authorities, businesses and universities to make that ongoing joint development of smart solutions easier. The digital advancement that will pull all of these technologies together is the Internet of Things. Smart cities will play a central role in a future where every device we use in our daily lives will be connected through the Internet, so that they can all interact and enable us to live more smartly than we have ever done before. Smart cities and the Internet of Things are the foundation for delivering next-generation citizen services. 

The Goals 

EITA Smart Cities Forum offers a unique opportunity to understand how the latest technologies could be harnessed to create economic clusters, foster entrepreneurship and develop new industries in cities and urban centers. It focuses especially on ubiquitous technology - technologies that are thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities. The main purpose of this forum is to bring together researchers/academics/industries in the field of system, networking and communication to discuss major challenges, research problems, and potential applications to support smart cities and urban informatics.


(last updated by hhw: 2/5/18)



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