Autor: Jose Manuel Hernández
From the information and communication technologies (ICT) point of view, and at a holistic level, cities can be considered as ‘systems of systems’. However, one of the most well-known definitions of a Smart City was already provided some years ago by the EU project ‘European Smart Cities’ . Under this work, six dimensions of ‘smartness’ were identified each one of them somehow related to the ICT world (economy, people, governance, mobility, environment, and living).
As the upsurge ICTs has become the nervous system of all modern economies, making cities smarter is usually achieved through the use of ICT intensive solutions. In fact, ICT is already at the heart of many current models for urban development: revamping their critical infrastructure and enabling new ways of city transport management, traffic control or environmental pollution monitoring. The extensive use of ICT is also empowering the development of essential services for health, security, police and fire departments, governance and delivery of public services. Nevertheless, the main concern with respect to most of these solutions is that its own commercial approach is leading to an unmanageable and unsustainable sea of systems and market islands. From the point of view of the Telcos, that is quite well aligned with the European Commission approach to the PPP, there is a need to reach to a high level agreement at an industrial level to overcome this increasing market fragmentation, which prevents solutions of becoming more efficient, scalable and suitable for supporting new generations of services that are not even envisaged nowadays.
Consequently, the successful development of the Smart Cities paradigm will “require a unified ICT infrastructure to allow a sustainable economic growth” , and this unified ICT platform must be suitable to “model, measure, optimize, control, and monitor complex interdependent systems of dense urban life” . Therefore in the design of urban-scale ICT platforms, three main core functionalities can be identified:
• Urban Communications Abstraction. One of the most urgent demands for sustainable urban ICT developments is to solve the inefficient use (i.e. duplications) of existing or new communication infrastructures. Due to the broad set of heterogeneous urban scenarios, there will be also a pronounced heterogeneity of the underlying communication layers. So far, through communications abstraction, urban-scale ICT platforms will allow unified communications regardless the different network standards and will enable data transfer services agnostic to the underlying connection protocol. Furthermore, a major challenge in future urban spaces will be how to manage the increasing number of heterogeneous and geographically dispersed machines, sensors and actuators intensively deployed everywhere in the city.
• Unified Urban Information Models. Also related to the huge amount of heterogeneous information generated at urban scale, a unified ICT platform should be built on top of a unified model so that data and information could be shared among different applications and services at global urban levels. This will relay on the articulation of different enriched semantic descriptions, enabling the development of information processing services involving different urban resources and entities of interest. Specific information management policies should also be addressed to ensure the required level of security and privacy of information.
• Open Urban Services Development. Together with unified communications and information, a key functionality of urban ICT Platforms should be to guarantee interoperability at both the application and service levels. Only through open, easy-to-use, and flexible interfaces the different agents involved (public administrations, enterprises, and citizens) will be able to conceive new innovative solutions to interact with and manage all aspects of urban life in a cost-effective way. This will provide the necessary innovation-enabling capabilities for attracting public and private investments to create products and services which have not yet been envisioned, a crucial aspect for SmartCities to become future engines of a productive and profitable economy.
Once major challenges of unified urban-scale ICT platforms are identified, it is clear that the future development of Smart Cities will be only achievable in conjunction with a technological leap in the underlying ICT infrastructure. This technological leap can be faced by considering Smart Cities at the forefront of the recent vision of the Future Internet (FI). Although there is no universally accepted definition of the Future Internet, it can be approached as “a socio-technical system comprising Internet-accessible information and services, coupled to the physical environment and human behavior, and supporting smart applications of societal importance” . Thus the FI can transform a Smart City into an open innovation platform supporting vertical domain of business applications built upon horizontal enabling technologies. The most relevant basic FI pillars  for a Smart City environment are the following:
• The Internet of Things (IoT): defined as a global network infrastructure based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual “things” are seamlessly integrated into the information network .
• The Internet of Services (IoS): flexible, open and standardized enablers that facilitate the harmonization of various applications into interoperable services as well as the use of semantics for the understanding, combination and processing of data and information from different service provides, sources and formats.
• The Internet of People (IoP): envisaged as people becoming part of ubiquitous intelligent networks having the potential to seamlessly connect, interact and exchange information about themselves and their social context and environment.
At this point, it is important to highlight a bidirectional relationship between the FI and Smart Cities: as if, in the one direction, FI can offer solutions to many challenges that Smart Cities face; on the other direction, Smart Cities can provide an excellent experimental environment for the development, experimentation and testing of common FI service enablers required to achieve ‘smartness’ in a variety of application domains . To this later extent, close to the IoP vision, the Living Labs network  based on the user-driven approach is of main relevance.
1. Smart Cities, Ranking of European medium-sized cities,
2. The ICT behind cities of the future, http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/
3. Simonov, M.: Future Internet applications relevant for smart cities, an ICT application area
example: smart & proactive energy management, Open Innovation by FI-enabled services,
Brussels, 15 January (2010)
4. Position Paper: Research Challenges for the Core Platform for the Future Internet. In: M.
Boniface, M. Surridge, C.U (Eds.) http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/
5. Sundmaeker, H., Guillemin, P., Friess, P., Woelfflé, S. (eds.): Vision and Challenges for
Realising the Internet of Things, CERP-IoT, March 2010. European Commission, Brussels
6. Future Internet Assembly 2009, Stockholm, Sweden (November 2009), http://ec.
7. The European Network of Living Labs, http://www.openlivinglabs.eu/
8. Towards a Future Internet Public Private Partnership, Usage Areas Workshop, Brussels,
3 March (2010), http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/foi/