How governments can streamline the adoption of smart city technologies
Spending on smart cities worldwide will reach over $34 billion in 2020 as cities adopt more connected technologies. From smart traffic lights that monitor traffic flow to smart grids that can make energy usage more efficient, such technologies can certainly improve the quality of life for citizens. Yet a staggering one-third of internet-of-things projects fail at the proof-of-concept (PoC) stage due to cost, security and scalability challenges. Cities must change and improve their approach to finding, testing and deploying smart technology innovations to effectively roll out such systems.
Here are three ways a dedicated PoC platform can help streamline, secure and scale the evaluation of new technologies.
1. It enables easier IoT integration and interoperability
When implementing smart city technologies, governments must consider how different technologies such as cameras and sensors will operate together in an interconnected ecosystem. The interoperability of systems is one of the most important components of a smart city. In a traditional PoC, each new technology would have to be tested individually against the existing system, but a PoC platform can automate much of the process and test all the technologies simultaneously.
A PoC platform can use artificial intelligence to replicate a virtual environment in the cloud. From there, the platform can simulate the same network behavior, including fluctuations in activity, latency and bandwidth from the original environment, to create the best possible testing ground for PoC evaluation. This PoC process allows CIOs and technology leaders to assess the interoperability and performance of the smart technology alongside the city’s existing ecosystem.
A centralized PoC platform running multiple evaluation processes can automatically compile results and data into a comprehensive KPI report, saving more time and effort. This makes it simple for governments to compare results to business and technical requirements, determine whether further testing is required and easily identify which solution can seamlessly integrate with existing systems.
2. It mitigates the risk of using sensitive data
The biggest risk of the traditional PoC process is the use of sensitive data. The sheer volume IoT devices, which will increase to almost 20 billion by 2020, means any cyberattack or data leak could have devastating consequences for a city and its citizens, as evidenced this year by the spate of ransomware attacks across the country. The lack of established standards and policies makes it even more risky for cities working with new vendors and products on interoperability. Granting a vendor access to private data and a city’s IT environment is a major security risk, but is necessary for PoC platforms to simulate an environment. Fortunately, there are tools that can safeguard information and secure the evaluation process from any malicious vendors.
By anonymizing or mimicking a small sample of data, a PoC platform can generate millions of records similar to the ones provided, giving the PoC environment a realistic set of data and without compromising security or privacy. This can effectively mitigate the dangers of data breaches since the generated information will be worthless while the sensitive data is anonymized and cannot be used.
3. It enables open innovation for large-scale projects
The pace of technological advancements means that cities will need to be constantly on the lookout for new innovations — whether it’s implementing visualization tools in Columbus, Ohio, or assessing 5G-powered drones in Raleigh and Cary, N.C. However, it’s important to ensure that any smart technology assessment has clear goals from the outset, as technology deployments risk failing due to the high cost of scaling, unclear ROI and the inability to justify the business case for the investment. A dedicated PoC platform can remedy these challenges by enabling governments to fast-track multitude vendor assessments at once, giving them more time to think strategically about how the solutions support broader business goals.
For example, a city’s evaluation of smart grid technology in a traditional PoC process could take a team months to complete. An additional few months would be required to ensure the technology securely integrates with its IT environment and develop a rollout strategy ahead of implementation. A PoC platform slashes evaluation time, saving precious resources and costs.
As urban environments transform into connected systems, solving the inefficiencies of PoCs has become a necessity. Reinventing the PoC process with tools targeting the key components of integration and interoperability, security and scalability is a logical and essential step for governments to consider. With new technologies being introduced at a rapid pace, cities across the country are under intense pressure to keep up and can no longer afford to spend time on lengthy PoCs.