Thursday, April 14, 2011

Smart Mobile Cities: Opportunities for Mobile Operators to Deliver Intelligent Cities

The twin challenges of rapid urbanization and climate change are contributing to the scarcity of resources in cities in both developed and developing markets. Cities around the world are suffering resources constraints in energy supply, road capacity, water reserves and even clean air for their citizens to breathe. 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 employ innovative digital services layers, that use sensing & control, analytics and ubiquitous communications, to optimize scarce resources. Empowered to make better decisions about how to travel or transport goods more efficiently and to understand the real time cost of using electrical appliances, the city’s citizens and businesses will make better use of these resources. As a result, cities will allocate resources more efficiently; in parallel saving costs and transitioning to a low carbon economy.

Mobile operators have a fundamental role to play in this emerging multibillion dollar value chain. Operators collectively own the network infrastructure best placed to deliver digital urban services to future citizens. Operators are also well positioned to provide the technology platform from which these future services can be delivered, and in some markets, to deliver end-to-end services direct to consumers. Beyond the technology challenge, there is also a significant need to orchestrate the disparate ecosystems, which is something that operators are well placed to achieve. However, they need to act soon to seize this opportunity, as competition is intense in all layers of smart city services provision.

A recent report that I co-authored with Accenture and the GSM Association identifies mobile payments and ticketing, intelligent energy management and analytics and commercial insight as the initial opportunities that operators should look to pursue in cities around the world. These services combine the largest benefit with the greatest ease of implementation, and are therefore most applicable opportunities for near-term, large-scale pilots.
Download the complete report