Cities call for more interoperable solutions in new IoT survey

17th January 2019 Adam Pitt

A new study published by The Academy for Smarter Communities (TASC), a training organisation launched by Rainmaking Innovation and the DOLL Living Lab (Gate 21), has revealed a growing appetite for the development and use of open-source IoT platforms among city and business leaders as many vendor solutions are not meeting city needs.

With nearly half of all governments expected to use IoT to create value from local roads, traffic signals, and streetlights during 2019, one of the biggest motivations behind support for an open-source solution is reported to be the desire to cut operating budgets. Spain and Portugal are said to have the highest number of cities to have deployed some form of open-source IoT operating platform.

The study, which is based on a survey of city government executives in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Jaipur, Kansas City, Palo Alto, Reykjavik, San Diego, Santander, Singapore, and Tampere, also suggests that the complexities of urban planning may make open-source software the only possible solution to engage the number of developers needed to realise the full potential of IoT.

“There aren’t many vendors able to develop citywide management platform at this stage; a lot of developers and funding will be required to develop such solutions,” Theodoor van der Klaauw, IoT Consultant at TASC and author of the study, told Cities Today. “Many people have therefore made comparisons between the development of IoT to the Internet. It’s not going to be built by one vendor and requires local players and global players to be successful.”

According to the study, many policymakers and city CIOs are in agreement that no single platform is likely to be able to offer an end-to-end solution that is suitable across all urban domains. A lack of clarity over data ownership, concerns over data privacy, and a low level of technical and service capabilities are among some of the challenges that are seen as preventing cities from developing and using open source IoT platforms.

Van der Klaauw told Cities Today that one of the most popular open source platforms, FIWARE, was described by a security and data utility specialist as “not secured by design” during its research.

The organisation also said that some of the IoT services provided by large multinational companies offering proprietary data solutions had also received mixed reviews, including in some cases, that their value proposition was “unclear”.

The study includes a comparative analysis of services provided by AT&T Dataflow, Amazon Web Services, Bosch IoT Suite, Cisco Kinetic for Cities, Deloitte CitySynergy, Google Cloud, Huawei Smart City Solution, IBM Watson, Microsoft Azure IoT, Nokia IMPACT, SAP Cloud, and Siemens Mindsphere.

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