The Future Is Now for Smart Cities

Municipalities across Europe are tapping into RFID and related technologies to deliver new and enhanced services.
By John Edwards

"Often, a city doesn't need some sort of state investment," Bevan says. "It's a question of partnership and working in such a way that you are creating a market."

"Some very big IT infrastructure and software companies see this as an opportunity for themselves from PR and social perspectives," Devlin says. "There's also business opportunity as well, since they're able to provide the ICT [information and communications technology] infrastructure."

Nice, for example, has partnered with Cisco to create "Connected Boulevard," a system that continuously gathers data from residents via a hybrid network to generate real-time context-aware information on traffic, parking, street lighting, waste disposal and environmental quality. "Having access to this data is essential to enhance many services for residents," Barale says.

As more municipalities begin exploring the possibility of transforming themselves into smart cities, many quickly realize that some places are better positioned to make a swift and painless transition than others. Europe's biggest and most well-known cities, such as London, Paris and Berlin, may actually have more trouble becoming smart cities than most far smaller communities, Bevan says.

"Bigger cities are generally strong on ideas and innovation and have the capacity and investment for change," Bevan says. "Even so, comprehensive implementation is often easier in smaller urban settings. These offer great pilot scenarios, living-lab style, for smart initiatives and solutions that can be scaled up subsequently."

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