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The City As a Laboratory: Not Just a Technology Play

 

July, 2017

Intelligent lighting networks are gaining recognition as a cost-effective installed base for the embedded sensors and data-sharing networks on which smart cities are built. With so much at stake, governance is an important concern. It’s clear that smart cities are no longer a “technology play”, in the sense that strategic choices can be made solely to investors or developers.

 

Citizens need to be involved and engaged in designing our smart cities. Public interest concerns such as privacy, security and upgradability are critical to building confidence. Testing applications, joining pilot projects and contributing feedback to large-scale experiments are all ways for citizens to determine which applications and use cases to pursue.

 

As technologies evolve, innovation will be helped by close cooperation between the ‘quadruple helix’ of government, academic, industry and citizens. Citizens will expect public infrastructure to be as connected as the mobile devices they depend on to find information, navigate urban spaces and manage resources.

 

Research by the Economist Intelligence Unit has found that citizens are willing to share data that improves infrastructure and services. “Digital tools that help business and citizens participate in urban planning and policy-making…could unleash a wealth of new insights that will ultimately make cities smarter, more resilient and more sustainable,” found the EIU Empowering Cities survey.

 

In the city-as-laboratory, lighting infrastructure offers an installed base of ‘horizontal’ infrastructure for the Internet of Things. The emerging applications – ‘verticals’ – which inter-connect through lighting infrastructure will bring profound changes in the interaction between cities and citizens. 

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