Are we smart enough for future Smart Communities?

smart communities

All Communities need to be Smart…

The concept “Smart …” in association with technologies is not anymore new. Smartphones, smart watches or smart (intelligence) software are already part of our lives. Accelerate urban development, fast growing global population, limited energy resources and aging infrastructure are among the most critical challenges that the new wave of digital technology has to solve.

More than 50% of the today World’s population lives in urban areas and contributes with more than 80% of the World GDP. According IDC the concept of Smart Cities “is a construct in which to frame local government transformation. Cities need to transform in order to develop sustainable, improve resilience, meet citizens’ rising expectations, and attract investment, new businesses, and talent.”  As result public government structures are looking to invest in emerging technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data and Analytics, Mobile Solutions, M2M, and Internet of Things.

But 50% of global population live in villages, farms, and isolated communities. Many academic, business and industrial activities are developed outside the big cities. What are their needs? Practically the same like the metropolitan area: infrastructure, energy sources, transportation, communications, pollution, or public safety. This is the main reason we prefer to look to “Smart Communities” problems, keeping “Smart Cities” as a general frame.

IoT and M2M technologies drivers for Smart Communities development

smart cities AgoraWe can find Smart Cities punctual projects starting a long time ago. The first issues generated by energy and overpopulation needed solutions. One good example is the Smart City initiative developed by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry from Japan in 2011. Watch the movie from the link. It’s really interesting for the energy solutions. The Smart Community concept was first used in 1993 in Silicon Valley – California during the post recession.  Looking to alternative solutions to next development, Silicon Valley officials, business leaders, academic and other communities members decided to find a common plan to help the region jump-start.

But old smart initiatives was local, based on legacy technologies, budgets limited, and lack of alternative energy solutions. The real explosion of Smart Cities projects is accelerated by fast and large adoption of Internet of Things, Machine 2 Machine and other emerging technologies and alternative energy resources that generated digital revolution.

According to Gartner, smart cities will use 1.6 billion ‘things’ connected in 2016, an increase of over 39% compared to last year. Commercial buildings will be best equipped with IoT systems until 2017, after which Smart Homes will dominate with a market of over 1 billion objects connected by 2018.

Smart energy alternativesDigital transformation influences every component of our life: how we leave, how we work, how we travel, how we communicate, how we learn, how we relax, how we defense. In any quality: citizens, employees, employers, parents, friends, or any type of community members…

A Smart Community vision should address a population able to accept and integrates a multitude of disruptive technologies and solutions aimed to improve the quality of life by increasing the efficiency of essential services: housing, jobs, public spaces and retail, transportation, infrastructure, utilities, communications, mobility, knowledge, recreation, administration, education, health, safety.

A simple but comprehensive definition for Smart Community could be find in Smart Communities Guidebook made in 1997 by California Institute for Smart Communities from San Diego State University: “a community in which government, business, and residents understand the potential of information technology, and make a conscious decision to use that technology to transform life and work in their region in significant and positive ways.”

The main goals of any Smart City project should be based on:

  • Public services redesigning
  • Critical infrastructure efficiency
  • Transportation and public utilities calibration
  • Excessive consume and cost reduction
  • Optimal allocation of existing resources

First Smart Communities conference in Romania

Having a long experience in new technologies adoption and know-how transfer on the market, Agora Group – Romanian media leader in IT business and technologies and cloud☁mania – independent Digital Transformation knowledge platform, organised for the first time in Romania a dedicated conference to “ITC Infrastructures & Solutions for Smart Communities”.

smart_cars_300This initiative was a direct reflection of local organization and industries interest for smarter technology and business solutions to better deserve the digital transformation progress. Considering the valuable solutions and services diversity provided on the Romanian market we offered to participants some very interesting solutions showing how actual technologies could help the development of tomorrow smart communities.

Looking to the large coverage of the subjects proposed by important players on the IT&C market, and the real interest and interactive participation of the audience, we can consider this first „Smart Communities” conference as a real success.

In my opening presentation “How can current technologies to help the development of tomorrow smart communities”, I made a general review of the actual technologies and why is important to extend the “Smart Cities” definition to more complex “Smart Communities” concept. Many parts of the speach ideas was developed in the first part of this article.

In his “ICT solutions for corporate customers and SMEs presentation Catalin Rasturnoiu – Presales and Technical Solutions Manager Business to Business at Orange Romania referred to the wide range of solutions offered by Orange Romania for fixed data & voice and mobile services. A special focus was made on the LoRaWAN services with applications in Smart Metering, buildings monitoring, intelligent agriculture services for Smart Cities and Smart Home. Other solutions presented were: the Orange concept for smart class, Wi-Fi zones in public buses transportation and Insurance mobile solution implemented at Uniqa.

“Improving the urban experience through augmented reality (AR)” was a very interesting presentation sustained by Mitu Morega – Business Developer at High-Tech Systems & Software (HTSS) who illustrated how virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are already used in urban projects, arguing that “both the young, and those not so young, have some personality who loves playing, interacting, color and movement, being it virtual. Increasingly more companies adopt to this trick to attract more customers. „But VR & AR are not just for sales, offering opportunity to develop smart applications for interactive tourists’ guides, increasing interest and interactivity, and having the ability to simulate projects development with virtual integration into the urban landscape.

Elena Paun Telekom
Elena Paun, BDM ITC Telekom Romania

Very interesting and well received by participants was the “Smart Street” key study presented by Elena Paun – Business Development Manager ICT at Telekom Romania. We had opportunity to hear details about the Smart City pilot project implemented by Telekom Romania in the Children’s Playground from Bucharest, in partnership with City Hall of 4th District, officially launched in April 2016. The pilot project includes a smart parking solution (automation of 129 parking seats), an intelligent dimming solution (automation and dynamic configuration of light intensity), a public safety solution (advanced video monitoring and analysis of the parking area), and a Wi-Fi network communication platform for park visitors, all integrated on a “Smart City” dedicated platform.  Telekom Romania implemented this pilot project in partnership with Cisco – strategic partner and supplier for IoT platform, Sensity – smart lighting solution provider, Kyunsis – smart parking solutions provider, and Kiwi Security – public safety solution provider.

“Bitdefender GravityZone – Unfollow the traditional” was the security solutions presented by Andrei Ionita – Bitdefender Business Development Manager. Bitdefender ia a Romanian company with global recognition, recently included by Gartner in the Visionary Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms (February 2016): Bitdefender provides very good malware detection capabilities, including a sandboxed application emulation environment, automatic unknown file analysis and continuous behavior monitoring, resulting in very good public test scores. The agent performance is very good, too, with low overhead.” Bitdefender GravityZone solution for companies is available in 3 versions: Business, Advanced Business and Enterprise, being developed in both Cloud and on-premises models.

RobotiiFew serious reflection subjects were opened by “Future knocks at the door,” visionary debates opened by Daniel Gruia – Knowledge Explorer and CIO at Transgaz, Romanian CIO Council member. Daniel offered us an incursion in a not too distant future of a Robots’ World. It is not too late to serious reflect and to prepare us for a scenario in which all routine tasks will be taken by robots. There are applied researches which show the realistic possibility that 50-70% of the actual workforce to become jobless. 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model,” said Bill Gates in speech made in 2014 at The American Enterprise Institute Economic Think Tank.

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