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Donnerstag, 15.04.2021
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Communities are still in the “early adopter” phase of IoT and smart city deployments, yet promise remains they can reap benefits by deploying the technology, according to Tony Batalla, chief technology officer for San Leandro, California, a town of 90,000 residents south Oakland.

“IoT and smart cities have tremendous promise,” everything from enhanced service delivery to reduced operating costs to environmental sustainability, Batalla said as part of the IoT Technologies Summit sponsored by Fierce Electronics.

Batalla should know. From 2016 to 2018, San Leandro completed a $5.2 million project to convert the city’s 4,800-plus streetlights to LEDs, complete with smart tech to send alerts and be controlled remotely. It was one of the first citywide IoT networks in the world at the time.

San Leandro has seen the benefits, currently saving about $447,000 per year on energy over a planned 15-year lifecycle. According to a 2019 blueprint published by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) that looked at the city and several others, San Leandro is removing about 2,103 metric tons of CO2 annually from the environment.

The study found that achieving success with some of the secondary goals of the project were less clear, such as proactive maintenance of streetlights.

In addition to his duties as city CTO, Batalla was active in editing the NIST blueprint and has stayed involved in the NIST Global City Teams Challenge. In 2018, the group surveyed 37 department heads of cities and found that nearly 90% said they foresee municipal IoT as having a “significant impact” on their organizations now or in the future, with the biggest impacts in systems involving street lights, transportation, public safety and utilities.

“There’s the promise that these benefits might be realized,” Batalla noted, but only 63% were in the planning phase, with 18% in the pilot phase and 9% in the development phase.

“These 2018 numbers are probably a little different now, but if you asked me to bet, I’d say not much different,” Batalla said. When asked when their municipal IoT network would be widely used in their community, 57% said 2022 or beyond.

The results of the survey, while a small sample, offer an important takeaway, Batalla said. “The time scale that governments operate on is long; we operate on really long schedules, which is different from what tech vendors are used to and an adaptation that vendors have to understand. It’s not going to happen fast. It’s a slow transition.”

Batalla added, “We’re still smack in the innovator and early adopter phase. That survey was 2018, but not much different than here in 2021.”

IoT progress in 2020 was stunted by high profile turnarounds, Batalla noted, including the Google Alphabet Sidewalk Labs’ decision in May to walk away from its $1 billion-plus Quayside smart city project along the Toronto waterfront.

Cisco also said late in the year that it would not continue selling its Cisco Kinetic for City software services line and would continue to transform its product portfolio to meet the needs of cities.

“That is significant because Cisco [has been] so in front of the vision of smart cities,” Batalla said. “For them to exit that product is telling of whether or not that vision came to materialize.”

In another example, San Diego faces challenges with its IoT network deployment, Batalla said, “largely due to pushback around privacy issues and the community itself saying, ‘no, we’re not ready for this.’’’ The city has implemented policies about how it will use surveillance cameras amid widespread concerns over privacy and crowd surveillance that signal the issue of privacy and public safety “will only continue,” Batalla said.

San Diego deactivated all sensor services, including cameras, on its 3,200 smart streetlights, pending a new ordinance governing the program, according to a September report in CitiesToday.

Overall, referring to the such examples and their implications, Batalla said, “We have not found the product-to-market fit. The technology itself has not matured to meet these disparate needs. Trying to build one platform that serves all city functions from police to library to economic development and administration is very, very difficult and perhaps not the way that smart cities will evolve.”

However, he said that cities like Singapore are building digital twins to try out pilot projects and not necessarily starting from a vision set out by tech vendors. “Perhaps the next chapter will be that the vision of smart cities will be defined by the cities themselves,” Batalla said.

Batalla said the NIST Global City Teams Challenge program was headed by Sokwoo Rhee until late 2020 when he left to work at LG as head of its North America Innovation Center. Meanwhile, NIST is recruiting a replacement to take over as the NIST smart city/community lead.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Matt Hamblen

Quelle/Source: Fierce Electronics, 15.03.2021

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