The Smart City is open: A White Paper on the role of open systems for the smart city

01 August 2016

Machina Research, the world's leading provider of strategic market intelligence on the Internet of Things, has published a White Paper sponsored by Philips, examining  the criticality of open systems as key enablers of smart cities. 

Cities are increasingly aware of the benefits of an ‘open’ approach to becoming ‘Smart’. It is already recognized that being locked in to an integrated solution from a single vendor is sub-optimal. However, there is insufficient clarity on the full implications of and challenges of ‘open-ness’, in terms of connectivity, interfaces between applications and city verticals, standards and procurement. Machina Research's White Paper explores this and argues that an open eco-system that develops independently but integrates seamlessly at a higher level, is key to unlocking increasing value over time from different verticals and applications.

The report explains that while in a mature, stable industry environment, formal standards are the trusted method for ensuring interoperability between different vendors’ offerings, in an evolving environment where innovation is rapid and the technology is still being developed, open-ness is best delivered via interfaces. Smart cities are very much in this evolving stage. Business models, interconnection methodologies, sensor and connectivity technologies are all in a process of rapid change.

As it is not clear which models of interoperability will emerge between cities, applications systems and providers, what is required from an open system is the ability to inter-operate with others via defined interfaces. This is the case both with respect to existing systems and applications and future ones. 

Here are the recommendations proposed:

  • Inter-operability should be a guiding principle in every project and every stage
  • Forward compatibility with future decisions about inter-operability is more important than a once-and-for all platform choice. In the early deployments of smart city applications, as municipalities test the waters, it is best to focus on deploying specific vertical applications, e.g. street lighting, refuse collection or parking, rather than trying to implement overarching city platforms
  • Cities need to stay flexible and prepare for a future based on open standards and APIs. During the current stage of smart city development, the key to remaining flexible is implementing open systems that enable interoperability via interfaces
  • Choosing open and recognized standards is a crucial element that is required to ensure open and durable systems and infrastructure. Where no recognized standard exists yet, the ability to work via APIs is key to guaranteeing openness

Download the full report here


About Machina Research

Machina Research is the world’s leading provider of strategic advice on the newly emerging Internet of Things, M2M and Big Data markets. Our Advisory Service provides comprehensive support for any organisation interested in these opportunities. Our vertical market information and forecasts cover sectors such as Industry, Healthcare, Cars and Cities. Furthermore we provide guidance on commercial and technical best practice supporting all stakeholders in the sector including users, manufacturers, service providers, investors and regulators. In addition to our syndicated Advisory Service research we also undertake a wide range of client-specific custom research projects ranging from White Papers through to full go-to-market strategies. Machina Research is staffed by the leading industry analysts in the sector.

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