Until recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) for cities was a lot of hype. As recently as 2015, Gartner listed IoT at the top of the hype curve. Real results were hard to come by, and cities were struggling to understand how IoT fit into their plans.
IoT is Here
Sensor proliferation is taking off. Chicago is deploying hundreds of sensors with it’s Array of Things initiative. It doesn’t stop there. This year Chattanooga, Atlanta, Seattle and Bristol and Newcastle in the United Kingdom will begin installing identical sensors in their cities. Next year, Boston, Austin, Delhi and Singapore will be building their own arrays. And late last year, DOT announced up to $40 million to a mid-size city with the best blueprint depicting a fully integrated forward-looking urban transportation network.
Big IT Challenges
While all of these IoT devices will provide valuable information, they’ll also present major security and data management challenges. Internal IT departments will be stretched to store, manage and analyze this data. Cities will need to manage thousands of data points and store millions of gigabytes of data. IT demands could skyrocket in a short period of time.
But big data requirements don’t mean big problems. Cities can overcome these challenges in a few ways.
#1: Consider Managed Services
If the CIA trusts the cloud, your city can too. Consider partnering with an IoT vendor that will provide managed services. At Miovision, we employ smart engineers and data scientists but we outsource some of our data storage functions to Amazon Web Services . They can do it better. Your traffic operations department is built around traffic engineering skills, not IT skills. Focus on what you do well and leave the rest to the experts.
So, how do you vet an IoT vendor? Here are few quick ways to get a read on whether you should consider a partnership:
- They Are Experts in IoT Solutions for Cities: Vendors with a focus on solutions for cities will understand your unique needs. Cities are different than companies. You require a specialized offering.
- They Have a Demonstrated Ability to Evolve With Your Needs: Your solution should evolve with your city. Partner with a vendor that has demonstrated a capacity to innovate on a regular basis. Chances are you’ll start with a particular need, but as you build your IoT platform, you’ll want more.
- They Take Security Seriously: Security should be a top priority. Your vendor should have clear documentation on security protocol, secure backups and disaster recovery. Furthermore, a reputable cloud partner should provide a detailed security response process.
- They Do More Than Store Data. They Can Provide Actionable Intelligence: You might not need data analysis right away, but as you collect and store data, you’ll want a vendor with a solution that can provide actionable intelligence for your city.
#2 Start with Small Pilot Projects
No need to dive into a full IoT implementation. Start with a small pilot project. It will allow you to slowly develop your IT infrastructure, whether it be externally or internally.
Don’t Avoid the Future
Cities are changing, and the Internet of Things is here to stay. Tackle the future head on. Start talking IT requirements. Start planning small pilot projects. Take the MyCitySmarts survey to help assess and plan the path forward. It will make your transition to a smart city that much easier.