"smart cities" entries

Most of what we need for smart cities already exists

Culture, play, and an emphasis on fair use will help smart cities take root.

The compelling thing about the emerging Internet of Things, says technologist Tom Armitage, is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel — or the water and sewage systems, or the electrical and transportation grids. To a large degree, you can create massive connectivity by simple (well, relatively simple) augmentation.

“By overlaying existing infrastructure with intelligent software and sensors, you can turn it into something else and connect it to a larger system,” says Armitage. “Yes, you could simply design and construct an entirely new system, but that’s incredibly expensive, it would take a lot time, and you may lose some things (of cultural or architectural value) that you may want to save. It’s better to adapt existing systems to your goals if you have the technology to do it — and we have it.”

Armitage speaks from direct experience. He was one of the collaborators behind Hello Lamp Post, a 2013 Bristol, England, project aimed at engaging people on a deep and intimate level with the urban landscape. In conjunction with PAN Studio and media artist Gyorgyi Galik, Armitage designed software interfaces for Bristol’s “street furniture” — the eponymous lamp posts, of course, but also manholes, post boxes, telephone poles, traffic bollards, and trash cans. Read more…

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The bicycle barometer, SCADA security, the smart city in a disaster (industrial Internet links)

As more data from a sensor-laden world becomes available, we'll need better tools for reducing it to useful, simple, informed prescriptions.

The Bicycle Barometer (@richardjpope) — Richard Pope, a project manager at Gov.uk, built what he calls a barometer for his bike commute: it uses weather and transit data to compute a single value that expresses the relative comfort of a bike commute versus a train commute, and displays it on a dial. It’s a clever way of combining two unrelated datasets and then applying algorithmic intelligence. As more data from a sensor-laden world becomes available, we’ll need better tools like this one for reducing it to useful, simple, informed prescriptions.

Scada Security Predictions: 2013 (IndustryWeek) — Tofino Security founder Eric Byres predicts that 2013 will be the year that tablets start to show up on the plant floor. “We won’t see a full invasion of iDevices on the plant floor in 2013,” he writes, “but the wall will be breached.” Security researchers I’ve spoken with usually say that iOS is a remarkably secure platform, but connecting more devices to industrial control systems means more endpoints that make the job of securing an industrial system much more complicated.

Adaptation (The New Yorker, subscription required for full article) — Some smart-city systems, especially targeted communications and infrastructure monitoring, have become important elements of disaster preparedness. Read more…

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Industrial Internet links: smart cities return, pilotless commercial aircraft, and more

Small-scale smart city projects; the industrial Internet as part of big data; a platform for smart buildings

Mining the urban data (The Economist) — The “smart city” hype cycle has moved beyond ambitious top-down projects and has started to produce useful results: real-time transit data in London, smart meters in Amsterdam. The next step, if Singapore has its way, may be real-time optimization of things like transit systems.

This is your ground pilot speaking (The Economist) — Testing is underway to bring drone-style remotely-piloted aircraft into broader civilian use. One challenge: building in enough on-board intelligence to operate the plane safely if radio links go down.

How GE’s over $100 billion investment in ‘industrial internet’ will add $15 trillion to world GDP (Economic Times) — A broad look at what the industrial Internet means in the context of big data, including interviews with Tim O’Reilly, DJ Patil and Kenn Cukier. (Full disclosure: GE and O’Reilly are collaborating on an industrial Internet series.)

Defining a Digital Network for Building-to-Cloud Efficiency (GreentechEnterprise) — “Eventually, the building will become an IT platform for managing energy a bit like we manage data today. But to get there, you don’t just have to make fans, chillers, lights, backup generators, smart load control circuits and the rest of a building’s hardware smart enough to act as IT assets. A platform — software that ties these disparate devices into the multiple, overlapping technical and economic models that help humans decide how to manage their building — is also required.” Read more…

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"Spontaneous collaboration" and other lessons from the private sector

Padmasree Warrior on the tools and technology governments should harness.

In this wide-ranging interview, Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior weighs in on smart cities, how the signal-to-noise ratio of social media can be managed, and why open government — if done right — can improve the speed and quality of decisions.

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