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City Life: the future is smart

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Today’s cities require smart solutions to face technological changes and sustain urban development.

Today’s urban areas are growing at a faster pace than ever before – in 1800, only 3% of the world population lived in cities. By 1900, that number had risen to 14%, by 1950 to 30%, and in 2008, for the first time, the world’s population was evenly split between urban and rural areas. And by 2050, it is expected that a staggering 70% of all people living on earth will be urbanites.

Interview Hofacker and Nejedl

Ingo Hofacker, SVP, Internet of Things, T-Systems Digital Division and Ralf Nejedl, SVP B2B, DT Europe, discuss Smart City living.

Against this backdrop, administrations find themselves in an increasingly challenging situation. Shrinking budgets, limited resources and the demand from citizens for faster and more convenient services are pushing cities to look for a more efficient approach. Smart city solutions introduce information and communication technology into public services to tackle these challenges. Ralf Nejedl, Senior Vice President, B2B at Deutsche Telekom Europe and Ingo Hofacker, Senior Vice President, Internet of Things, T-Systems Digital Division, explain how.


Ralf, what exactly is a smart city and how does DT work with cities that want to be smarter?

Smart City Projects across Europe

Deutsche Telekom wants to become a leading smart city solution provider in Europe.

Ralf Nejedl: A city becomes smart, when its already existing ecosystem is increasingly supported by ICT-based solutions which help to digitize its public services. But digitization is just the means to an end. The ultimate goals of any smart city approach, of course, must be to increase the quality of life for citizens, attract visitors and support the economic development.

For us this means that we want to be a trustworthy, reliable and long-term partner for a city’s move to digitization. We are helping city administrations to address and manage ecological and economic pressures, as well as urban transformation needs due to continued rapid growth and recent technology advances. Keeping a clear focus on the benefit for citizens and visitors in mind, we work with innovative smart city partners to provide best connectivity and IT solutions that make a real difference in everyday city life.

What are some of the main advantages of a smart city?

Ralf Nejedl: The introduction of smart solutions within an urban environment is a double whammy! It brings advantages not only to city administrations, helping them to save time and cost by managing services more efficiently, it also brings benefits for the ‘end customer’, in this case the citizens and visitors of a city.
Sustainability management is a good example: smart city solutions can reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and improve waste management, bringing about a cleaner overall environment. Public transport can also be organized more efficiently. As a result, citizens can plan for and make journeys more easily. Increased safety is another consideration. Smart technologies such as video cameras or advanced picture analysis enable cities to locate, mitigate and prevent safety issues more reliably, thus providing better protection for citizens.

Last, cities have a huge creative potential at their disposal by encouraging input from citizens to their smart city development plans. Participation in collaborative platforms and social media helps represent the citizens’ perspective and take their interests into account.

What types of smart city solutions does Deutsche Telekom offer and where?

Ralf Nejedl: We have worked with a number of cities across Europe to help them overcome some of the key challenges they face by offering smart services to their citizens and visitors alike. In collaboration with city administrations, we have therefore initially identified and focused on smart mobility solutions such as smart parking, as well as smart lighting and public safety applications. In Hamburg, for example, we have recently announced that we will install approximately 11,000 smart parking spaces as part of our approach to innovate intelligent traffic management through an open marketplace and end-to-end digital parking service. The new solution will ease the search for available parking spaces and reduce search traffic in the city. Similar mobility solutions have been installed in Budapest, Bucharest, Dubrovnik and Skopje, where next to smart parking we are also offering mobility solutions such as smart biking and smart bus management systems.

In Gijon, Spain, we work with the local city administration to fit a comprehensive smart lighting system where more than 1,000 smart street lights have been fitted. Additional lighting solutions are installed in Monheim, Germany, Halkida and Patras, Greece, as well as Dubrovnik, Croatia. But we also offer smart waste solutions, for example on the Croatian island of Krk or in Romania’s capital Bucharest. These are just a few examples; the possibilities are virtually endless!

Working with the public sector is not always smooth sailing - What are the biggest challenges for the implementation of smart city projects?

Ralf Nejedl: Based on our experiences so far, the biggest challenges are the insufficient interdepartmental cooperation within a city’s administration, as well as difficulties in the cooperation between the public and private sector which is necessary to successfully realize a smart city project. Also, cities often don’t have a proper smart city strategy on board and lack a coherent digitization plan. Part of our work is to help shape a long-term strategy and also to create awareness within city administrations that EU funds are available and how to obtain and utilize them.

From a technological perspective cities need an IP-based, open, scalable and extendable horizontal architecture that enables any authority, citizen and vendor to dock on to. Proprietary protocols and data formats need to be avoided. A horizontal smart city management platform will be able to integrate objects and applications citywide – similar to ERP systems that integrate all kinds of business processes and resources.

Ingo, speaking about the technology side of things: How does the Internet of Things apply to smart cities?

Ingo Hofacker: The Internet of Things, or IoT in short, is a truly explosive growth area marking a radical change process: the digitization of our everyday lives. IoT is breathing intelligence into everyday objects. It is becoming an integral part of every industry, changing production processes as well as our daily habits – and ultimately changing customer expectations as well as customer relationship management.

In this context, IoT is heavily affecting the public sector as well: it is conquering and transforming entire cities that face the challenge of improving their attractiveness with modest budgets. Hence, the major driver for an effective smart city approach is the ability to provide attractive and beneficial solutions for citizens and visitors while achieving considerable savings moving into a connected future.

An important recent IoT development is the new mobile technology Narrowband-IoT or NB-IoT, because it is ideally suited for a wide range of smart city applications. DT is currently rolling it out in Germany as well as seven other European markets and has already implemented the first smart city solutions based on NB-IoT. The technology has a wide range of performance advantages to supplement existing connectivity offers. It offers lower costs, low power consumption and deep indoor penetration, it addresses customer use cases and applications that cannot be efficiently served by existing networks and technologies. By enabling international operations in licensed spectrum, it also represents a future-proof and reliable technology for our customers with enhanced security.

What is Deutsche Telekom’s smart city platform strategy?

Ingo Hofacker: DT’s Smart City connectivity approach is firmly embedded within the four pillars of our overall group strategy: integrated IP networks, customer experience, win with partners, and lead in business. Our Smart City solutions will make use of DT’s Multi IoT Service Platform (MISP), consisting of multiple platforms and products, like Cloud solutions, IoT products and other DT solutions. This makes it easy for cities to link their platforms to existing solutions.

We are working with industry leading, best-of breed partners to enrich the platform’s capabilities and services. It is accompanied by regional partnerships and offerings enabling diversity while extending the Smart City platform eco system with combinable solutions and value added services. This approach provides advantages for pricing through economy of scale, security, operations and service development. DT fosters standards and standardization and is actively participating in EU programs and major standardization activities like OneM2M and DIN.

How does Deutsche Telekom protect Smart Cities from cyber attacks?

Ingo Hofacker: Digitization without security does not work, that’s why critical network infrastructures, such as energy and water supplies, must be well protected from cyber attacks. To date, this is not always the case. To offer customers and cities the best possible Security solutions, Deutsche Telekom has in January of this year merged the relevant competences of 1200 employees within the company into a new business segment, the so-called Telekom Security.

We have experience in protecting our own network and working to recognize not only familiar but also new attack patterns and to effectively train the defense systems. Through so-called honeypots – seemingly unsecured, virtual areas placed within the network to attract potential attackers – we record several million attacks every day.

What key smart city developments do you see in 2017 and beyond?

Ingo Hofacker: In the coming years, we expect the biggest smart city developments in several key areas from smart mobility, including smart parking solutions and e-mobility, to smart lighting and smart public safety applications. These are the areas of most concern to city administrations and with most benefit to the daily lives of citizens, as they help improve urban mobility, for example by reducing traffic jams, as well as energy consumption, while at the same time improving air quality and safety. Deutsche Telekom already offers attractive solutions for these challenges and will continue to work on further improving these propositions.

Futuristische Skyline

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Deutsche Telekom enhances urban life and supports cities with digital transformation – all across Europe.

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