The Stack Archive

Smart cities will need to overcome archaic regulation

Thu 27 Aug 2015

Manik Narayan Saha, CIO at SAP Asia Pacific & Japan, discusses three key topics raised by the growing Internet of Things (IoT) sector in a ‘hyper-connected’ Asia, and begins on the subject of the ‘smart city’…

A smart city uses digital technologies or information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. Sectors that have been developing smart city technology include government services, transport and traffic management, energy, health care, water and waste. In order to build smart cities leveraging IoT, the government will have to build out infrastructure to support the millions of devices connecting to various platforms.

Cities are complex systems that are difficult to understand without the right information. But we increasingly have the technology to record, store and analyze all kinds of data and we can use it to make our cities better places to live in.

With the availability of very low cost, low power consuming sensors the barrier to create “smart cities” is lower and the price points will continue to drop. More than technology, it is archaic regulation and bureaucracy that will stifle the development of smart cities.

Singapore skyline at nightIn Singapore, the Smart City infrastructure is being collaboratively built up. Under the direction of IDA, several initiatives are reviewing the infrastructure connectivity requirements that will form the foundation to the Smart City initiatives.

SAP has unveiled a showcase solution, aligned with Barcelona City Council smart initiatives, envisioned to be Barcelona’s next-generation interactive mobile travel platform: Barcelona for You Tourist Network (BCN4U). BCN4U is expected to run on top of SAP City Connect – a new solution designed to simplify the way people experience a city by seamlessly connecting people, places and things through an easy-to-use mobile app.

Improving real-time communication through IoT

The widespread use of sensors with IoT is going to drive the need for faster and better communication platforms. Last-mile connectivity will be one of the biggest challenges facing IoT in the future. Sensors are going to be transmitting large volumes of data and transmitting this data with minimum delay is a critical decision when building IoT infrastructure.

Today with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and emerging technologies such as ZigBee, 6LowPAN and others, we are seeing a wide variety of protocols being used by IoT developers. Depending on the application, factors such as range, data requirements, security, power demands and battery life will dictate the choice of technology, whether a single solution or a combination of systems.

LTE and 4G networks have more capacity and faster data rates, and will enable low-cost, low bit-rate services for the emerging IoT era. The explosive growth of the IoT — now projected to reach multiple billions of devices in the next few years — and the unprecedented high adoption rate of LTE have given rise to a tidal wave of new business opportunities not only for mobile operators, but also for device makers now highly incentivized to connect their devices to the internet via LTE. With 5G on the horizon, in Singapore for example, this will provide additional options with increased capacity and bandwidth for connectivity options.

At SAP we connect to a wide variety of devices and ‘things’ and support multiple protocols. In the telecom networks-driven M2M space, SAP has established a partnership with Jasper. Together, the team hopes to offer integration of their solutions designed to help simplify and dramatically shorten the time to launch, manage and monetize IoT services. The Jasper Control Center platform, which automates the life-cycle of IoT services, is planned to integrate with the SAP HANA platform, creating business value for customers and partners by analyzing service subscription and usage data.

Balancing business value and customer privacy

Consumers will ultimately determine the tipping point at which they are willing to give up a certain level of information to gain from it. Businesses should consider IoT as an enabler rather than a hindrance, and conversations with customers should be open and transparent, highlighting the value and benefits, while maintaining transparency around data privacy and sovereignty.

Ultimately, no business can guarantee complete privacy, due to cyber-criminals and hackers wanting to gain access to information. However, it’s important for business providers to provide assurance about how their customer data is being managed. In the event that a data leak does occur, information needs to be provided as to the recourse for customers, and other affected entities.


4G 6LowPAN Asia Bluetooth feature IoT ZigBee
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