Jennifer Arnolds


Interoperability – the next stage in Smart City development

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The area of smart city continues to enjoy rapid growth, both in the development of new technologies and devices, as well as their applications within the city environment. Smart city investment across the globe is increasing significantly. On a European level alone, On a European level alone, EU has set aside a multi-billion funding for smart city projects between 2014-2020. In order for these investments to realize a return, all actors – from municipalities, to industry and local businesses – need to work together to solve one of the most complex challenges in the smart city development: interoperability.

Municipalities currently implementing their various smart city initiatives are faced with an increasingly heterogeneous technology environment. In the Internet of Things ecosystem, smart lighting or parking systems, home automation devices, security applications, power grids and many more smart city applications are connected to the Internet and have to talk to one another. However, today, there are numerous different types of solutions and devices, adapted for different cities, with multiple service-specific platforms – creating a level of fragmentation which results in all kinds of interoperability challenges.

Technology must therefore be adapted to efficiently operate within a connected smart city ecosystem to more fully realize its value. For this, the use of open standards in IoT networks is important. Smart city solutions built on open standards, supported by a certification program for interoperability, hugely benefit city administrations as they provide the network operator with a choice of vendors, competitive pricing and the confidence of a continuity of supply. The European Innovation Program on Smart Sustainable Cities and Communities provides relevant information towards the creation of a standards-based open urban platform ecosystem. 

In order to support multi-service networks, it is sensible for a municipality to use the same communications infrastructure for a wide variety of current smart city applications, such as smart lighting, waste management, or smart parking solutions, as well as applications which will emerge only at some point in the future. A single communications infrastructure not only avoids the replication of network equipment but enables new and smart functionality where different applications can interact and share data. Enabling interoperability within and between such a system of systems is therefore essential.

For Deutsche Telekom, an open and collaborative approach is the only way to successfully drive the digital transformation in the smart city environment. Collaboration within the city community and between cities is needed for smart city solutions to be replicable and scalable for wider cross-border deployment and on a much larger scale. That is why we strongly focus on platform interoperability as the underpinning basis for this development to happen. On an open urban platform, we combine different smart city and IoT offerings – and our customers can implement the best solutions for their needs. On a modular basis, we also provide sector-specific vertical offerings which help our customers with faster integration, a free choice of vendors and easy scaling of their solutions. Telekom Innovation Laboratories show interoperability on an open urban testbed together with partners.


 Interoperability is key for cities so they can ensure effective data governance as well as maximize the opportunity to select technical partners of their choice. Using standardized services based on open standardized interfaces is vital to enable seamless interworking between different domains or cites. Without this holistic approach, a smart city cannot flourish and achieve its true potential. Only by integrating all available technologies and solutions into a municipal macro-system – and by doing so safely – will we ultimately achieve a brighter connected future for urban life around the world. 

Telekom Innovation Laboratories


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