Cloud City

Cisco Unveils Smart-City-as-a-Service

On Tuesday, Cisco released its Smart+Connected Digital Platform at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2016 being held this week in Barcelona.

Cisco’s platform is a pay-as-you-go cloud-hosted service aimed at municipalities aspiring to become smart cities but lacking the resources in-house to do so. According to the company, 10 cities worldwide are already using its platform to connect to traffic, parking and environmental sensors in real time. Cisco’s list includes Paris, Copenhagen, Bucharest and Bangalore. The company is partnering with IBM to digest the data and create actionable information.

Cisco’s system enables the creation of a common interface, or “dashboards”, to connect all the disparate sensor data that’s currently available in different silos. Application programming interfaces are also available allowing developers to create dashboards for city managers and other officials to use. As an example, Cisco showed how Paris is using a dashboard from the Place de la Nation area to monitor parking, street lighting and traffic conditions.

The Paris dashboard can also track crowds, showing how many people are gathered in any one tourist spot and how much time each person spends there on average. Crowd data could be used to automatically call for more buses or taxis to service the area. Using multiple data sets, traffic services could access sensor data to determine ways to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, while improving emergency response times.

The concept of a smart city is still somewhat vague but the idea is to create a high level of connectivity between municipal operations. Cities around the world are becoming adept at managing basic services such as streetlights and monitoring water usage. The declining costs of sensors and the growing ability to affordably analyse collected data could boost efficiencies and long-term city planning, saving money while improving services.