Smart city

The smart city concept has been taking hold over the past ten years as a central tenet of city planning, with particular emphasis on innovation, in the broadest sense of the term, to meet the challenges that cities today are facing. It starts with sustainable development and the digital transformation.

A complex ecosystem, the smart city requires a multi-disciplinary approach to breaking down the old silo approach that has reigned over urban development and urban planning up to now. The digital transformation is a good example of the emergence of new challenges that need to be taken into account in a city environment. The growing importance of data (urban data, big data) underscores the need to have a solid grasp of the issues they represent for a city, and the skills and expertise best suited to integrate them into a city’s public policies.

Outlook for the urban Internet of Things

There is a clear, ongoing interest in deploying an urban Internet of Things for an array of applications, and involving both public and private sector players. Governance of the urban IoT remains an open question, with schemes that are taking shape to address the issues of how cities are organised, new contractual relations with city operators, citizen involvement, new business models and related instruments. In Europe, the Spanish city of Santander and its 20,000 sensors is the most advanced example of urban IoT integration, applied to mobility, public safety, emergency services, the environment, energy efficiency and citizen involvement.

Blockchain and IoT, a convergence of interests for the smart city

The blockchain relies on an architecture of encrypted, distributed, disintermediated and secure databases. This type of configuration can be used to manage city data garnered from IoT deployments. An IoT–blockchain convergence enables the creation of new fully secure solutions. Pioneer trials have begun, bound up with the need to integrate autonomous cars into city driving, manage energy at the neighbourhood level and have more energy-efficient buildings. Several vanguard smart cities – Dubai and Singapore merit special attention – recently announced plans to invest in blockchain solutions.

Example of urban IoT integration
Observed benefits of IoT for Santander, by sector
Source: International Case Studies of Smart Cities: Santander ; IDB June 2016
IoT and blockchain convergence for the smart city
Examples of smart city blockchain initiatives and projects
Source: IDATE DIgiWorld