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Rapid rates of urbanization are creating major challenges for cities—challenges that innovative use of technology can help to overcome. Hence, the concept of the smart city is emerging.
This report by the GSMA, and co-sponsored by Accenture, argues that mobile operators are uniquely placed to play a key role in the emerging value chains that will drive development of these smart cities. The report also identifies the most realistic commercial opportunities for mobile operators.
This report by the GSM Association (GSMA), which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, looks at the challenges posed by rapid global urbanization. The flood of people to the cities—the global urban population exceeded the rural for the first time somewhere between 2008 and 2009—is placing huge stress on cities’ energy, road and water infrastructures, and even their ability to provide clean air.
New solutions are urgently required to cope with these resource challenges to ensure that the city of the future is a safe, healthy and desirable place for its citizens to live, work and play.
Smart cities that optimize these scarce resources are emerging as the solution. They employ innovative digital services layers that use sensing and control, analytics and ubiquitous communications, to enable better allocation of these resources. This approach will help cities to save costs while moving to a low-carbon economy.
The report argues that mobile operators have a fundamental role to play in this emerging multibillion dollar value chain. As owners of the infrastructure, they are well placed to:
No agreed definition of an intelligent or smart city exists, but they should provide enhanced information flow to citizens and service providers; combine disparate data sets to offer productivity insights; maximize economies of scale across multiple infrastructure layers; and use innovative technology and innovation.
Smart city infrastructures may be most compelling in developing cities where no legacy infrastructure exists. Three city archetypes need to be considered:
The Intelligent City value chain starts at the point where data about the citizens and the urban environment is generated. That data and information are then analyzed, combined with other services and delivered through useful and targeted applications and interfaces to end customers. Providers have the opportunity to assume different roles across different parts of the value chain from a pure access play to full-service delivery.
Telecommunication operators are well placed to take a leading role in smart cities but need to act purposefully and quickly to optimize their role in the value chain. A successful pitch to a municipal buyer must include a compelling long-term vision, but also some near-term pilot opportunities that can be tested.
The report identifies six key opportunities for mobile operators:
After assessing these in terms of their expected benefits to the operators, third parties and society, as well as their ease of implementation, the report concludes that the first three should be the highest priorities for mobile operators intent on entering the smart city value chain.
Accenture is a leader in the innovative use of technology to drive high performance, we have decades of experience in the telecommunications industry and we are a pioneer of the smart city concept.
August 18, 2011
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