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Carbon reduction commitments, the COVID-19 pandemic, cost reduction and unrelenting urban growth are all mounting pressures that are contributing to cities around the world transforming their legacy infrastructure to operate as smart cities. 

With numerous benefits that will help nations reach their carbon emission targets, reduce waste and usage costs, cities are being incentivized with green stimulus packages that are intended to fund smart city projects. These funds, which are available for cities in North America, Europe and some parts of APAC, help to reduce the financial risk, while allowing cities to take on ambitious projects that they might not otherwise have attempted. 

Manufacturers and brands of smart products and connected devices are in a great position to ride this wave of digital transformation. We’ve detailed some of the challenges that smart cities are looking to address through the incorporation of new technology. Smart device providers should assess how their product helps to minimize, or eliminate these challenges as they attempt to capture this market. 

Buildings

In the USA, commercial buildings account for 20 percent of total energy consumption, of which 30 percent is wasted.

It goes without saying that decarbonizing building operations is one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions. Smart solutions should be looking to see how their products can transform buildings into energy efficient systems and the extent to which management can be automated.

Building Management Systems (BMS) are the relative nervous system of buildings, where all connected activities are planned, integrated and managed. As companies look to make their BMS more intelligent, your smart device will be evaluated in terms of how easily it will be able to integrate into these systems and get more value out of them. 

To eliminate energy wastage, building operators are trying to match energy use to occupancy. This is often achieved by sensors that generate detailed data about occupancy and the condition of hardware, such as ventilation and lighting. If your product is a smart switch, thermostat or lighting system, incorporating this sensor technology might be a good fit for your product, with the intention for it to provide sensory data in real time.

Energy Consumption

Cities consume over two thirds of the world’s energy. At this disproportionate level it’s not surprising that there is a lot of pressure to reduce carbon emissions by transitioning to systems that monitor and automate consumption. Industry analysts expect that there will be investment in smart technology that can enable this transition, without interrupting productivity and supporting economic growth. Smart products that are likely to play a critical role here are smart grids, next-gen energy transmitters and networks that can monitor energy flows and automatically adjust changes in supply and demand.

Smart meters will also have an important role to play here, for their ability to introduce price differentiation and grids for local sources of energy. As governments seek to lower carbon emissions, smart meters will enable gamification apps to motivate lower usage consumption. The possibilities really are endless, and it will be interesting to see the solutions that emerge as companies and governments work together to fight climate change.

Water & Waste management

As climate change wreaks havoc on weather conditions, cities around the world are becoming more concerned about ensuring water supply, effectively treating and recycling wastewater and how to better manage waste. 

Flooding and unnecessary water loss means that urban planners have to upgrade old drainage systems. As they replace these systems they will be looking for smart solutions to better manage degradation, particularly leakage and pollution detection and tools that support predictive maintenance. 

The traditional waste management model of bin to landfill is being replaced by circular waste management. The solutions being considered to address this include decreasing waste at the source through recyclable packaging, more strategic collection methods that are likely to use some form of sensor technology to support just-in-time waste collection, and technology that convert waste into energy. 

Enabling technology

To enable and accelerate these ambitious goals, smart cities will be looking to find solutions in new technology offerings. Incorporating new technologies such as 5G, AI, cloud and edge computing and advanced security solutions will naturally mean that your smart device will be able to address a much broader scope of needs. Analysts expect that $20 billion worth in opportunities across hardware, software and services will be deployed at the edge by 2023. And this is a figure that’s only going to grow.

As vital infrastructure becomes connected, this also introduces new bad actors who will be looking to take advantage of any and all vulnerabilities. Smart cities are not going into this new world wearing rose tinted glasses and are very much aware of these risks. The majority of cities in the process of digitizing their infrastructure have written and formalized cybersecurity policies in place and are routinely implementing them.

To successfully penetrate the smart city market, vendors will need to work with government departments to ensure that their smart devices are compliant with all security and insurance regulations and can ensure that attempted hacks are not only detected, but stopped in their tracks with a proactive preventative solution. IoT security solutions, like that provided by Firedome, helps vendors meet these requirements and exceed them, to ensure that their opportunity to ride this smart transformation wave sets off without a hitch.

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