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  • Smart Cities

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    Tim Kannegieter

    Of all the fields that IoT could be applied in, the one that has received the most attention and hype is how it will enable the concept of a “smart city”. Smart cities are those that leverage ICT systems to enable “smarter” decisions and more efficient processes in the management of community assets.

    The IoT greatly expands the capability to bring this “intelligence” to a broader range of assets that previously were not digitized. Cities often have multiple but disconnected smart programs around topics such as transport, energy use, air quality and so forth. However, the aspiration of the smart cities concept is to address complex issues that cross multiple functional areas to drive better outcomes such as the livability, sustainability and economic viability of our urban environments.

    Virtually every aspect of the operation of urban environments is amenable to IoT applications – from the work of councils to the operation of city wide water/waste infrastructure, from major community assets like hospitals through to local community initiatives, from regional transport planning to the sharing economy, there is no end to the potential range of ideas.

    Many of the major industry verticals such as utilities, transport and healthcare all converge in cities, making them a fertile ground for IoT. However, the challenge for the smart city concept is finding consensus across cities to accelerate IoT market development not in terms of vertical sectors but in a multi-disciplinary approach, starting from policy, regulations, designers, engineers and operators.

    A key concept underpinning smart cities is the idea of “open data”. The idea is that government provide data that its sensors deliver free of charge to anyone in the community that may want to create new “smarter” services around that. To that extend, smart cities encourage and empower its citizens to drive the innovation agenda. An example of this is when Transport for NSW release rail, ferry and bus information to companies wishing to create their own apps around public transport.


    With such a complicated landscape, a key issue for IoT and Smart cities is common standards. Governmental organisations don’t want to be locked into vendor solutions. Also they’ve got a lot of legacy systems. So a big challenge for city authorities is how to invest and which standards to uphold.

    A key standards initiative in the smart city space is called the HyperCat.  This is a specification that allows IoT clients to discover information about IoT assets over the web. With Hypercat, developers can write applications that will work across servers, breaking down the walls between vertical silos. A group called Hypercat Australia  has been formed to support the roll out of the specification in Austalia. Another supporting initiative is the PAS 212:2016 standard which provides for an automatic resource discovery for the IoT.

    Government support

    The Australian Government has developed a “Smart Cities Plan”. This includes a program for funding smart city initiatives [https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/smart-cities-and-suburbs-program].

    There are a number of associations specializing in this area including the Australian Smart Communities Association.


    Some of the technologies that have the potential to be used in smart cities are:


    The information on this page has been sourced primarily from the following:

    A webinar titled 'How Machine Vision Helps Realise the Smart City Concept' by Ryan Messina, Director and System Engineer, Messina Vision Systems delivered to this community on 4 July 2017.










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