A new report from Navigant Research predicts that the global market for smart city platforms will reach $755 million by 2027.
If that sounds like a figure plucked from thin air, the concept of a smart city platform has become clearer in recent months. Companies such as Nokia, Microsoft, and Cisco are vying to provide ambitious urban projects with multi-layered solutions that cover a variety of connected areas, from video surveillance and networking to parking and environmental monitoring.
Navigant’s Smart City Platforms report argues that the integration of smart city services is inevitable and necessary, as is their central coordination, as IoT deployments increase and stakeholders adopt a more holistic strategy to connecting urban services and taking them online.
The city as a service concept
Navigant suggests that one consequence of the platform approach will be the rise of the ‘city as a service’ model. These platforms will no doubt prove lucrative to the technology giants that deploy them.
However, the report expects they will also be key to cities “building the partnerships they need to ensure that their economies, environment, and services are fit for the future.”
Eric Woods, research director at Navigant, believes that many business areas are embracing the layered expertise that comes with the platform model. “City platforms enable continuous service and technology innovation and allow cities to adapt to a world where platform offerings dominate many business areas,” he said.
The report cites the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Google, and Facebook as examples of platforms that cities could emulate when it comes to managing resources and delivering services.
Internet of Business says
The platform approach is one that most people are familiar with from the ongoing ‘consumerisation’ of enterprise technology – or, put another way, the industry-wide approach to designing a more intuitive interface.
Platforms also encourage users to adopt a range of technologies, and may help city planners and authorities to be more ambitious with their transformation programmes.
However, if bringing smart cities to life depends on handing over the reins to third parties, issues surrounding security and data privacy will no doubt come to the fore – just as they do on all platforms that cross the business and consumer worlds, serving the vendors’ interests as much as the users’.
Many platform providers use their ‘real estate’ online to push their own services, opening up the risk of smart city deployments becoming vendor advertising goldmines rather than citizen-focused transformation exercises.
With that in mind, Navigant suggests that city leaders should “develop a platform strategy based on core principles for openness, use of standards, and alignment with other technology and business programmes.”