“Smart cities” is a topic EVERYONE is talking about, world over! But what are these smart cities? Why is there such a huge buzz about this recently? The term has gathered some steam countries like China and most recently, India. In this article, we take a look at what ‘smart cities’ are and what this concept along with the ‘Internet of Technology’ mean for the web providers, the Internet industry, the new gTLDs & the technologically equipped future in the larger scheme of things.
What are smart cities?
Traditional ideas of ‘smart cities’ suggest a compilation of electricity, gas, water & other government amenities using sensors into a smart grid through technology to make cities efficient.
The vision, globally with the ‘smart cities’ is to be economically stable, ecologically friendly, technologically powered & meticulously planned with a dependence on information technology to improve efficiency.
Few features of Smart Cities:
- Smart Buildings: Reduce energy and water consumption, carbon emission and lower costs, all while providing a safe environment for the citizens.
- Smart Parking: Provide real time availability information, guide drivers to open spots and increase revenue of parking space operators.
- Remote Expert: Changes how healthcare, citizen services, retail or banking are delivered to its citizens in a real time, immersive, video environment
Amsterdam, Barcelona & Bangalore are a few of the cities worldwide which have some or all of these features already implemented.
What this means in the larger picture of the Internet of Things (IoT)?
Let’s start with what the Internet of Things mean. Simply put, it means physical objects or things will be embedded with electronics or software to eliminate human labour and make daily living efficient & seamless. Our previous blog article talks a bit more about the Internet of Things, citing examples.
Indian cities are growing at the rate of 10,000 people per hour according to Cisco Executive VP & Chief Globalisation Officer, Wim Elfrink. He says, “…For every device connected to the Internet, 10 more will join it in the near future.” With the rapid growth of population in cities, there is a pressing need to ensure resources are optimized.
The Internet of Things is certainly a possibility with smart cities. The foundation and raw materials to implement the Internet of Things are present – millions of smart devices, huge technological innovations, vast Internet connectivity & trillions of data points to connect to sensors & an overwhelming need to pull it all together in these smart cities.
The biggest giants in the tech space are already delving into this space with their upcoming projects:
- Apple’s iCar: Claiming to be the ‘ultimate mobile device’, this electric car is said to be driverless and electric, controlled entirely with an iPad or iPhone.
- Apple’s iBeacon: A technology that enables smartphones, tablets & other physical devices to perform actions in close proximity.
- Google’s Nest Lab acquisition: Nest Labs is a home automation company that creates & manufactures sensor driven, Wi-Fi powered, smoke detectors & thermostats. The startup, Dropcam was also acquired by Nest Labs wherein, the Dropcam would automatically start recording when the alarm goes off & the Thermostat can use Dropcam to sense for motion.
- Microsoft’s Azure IoT services: These services provide hyper-scale connectivity capabilities for gathering & converting of IoT device data.
What does this means for Web Providers?
IoT will generate a huge data influx which will need to be processed & analysed in real time. This will create a demand for efficient, scalable high storage & infrastructure which in turn, will call for web service providers like us to offer reliable data storage facilities and efficient system management platforms. While technology giants like Google, Apple et al. will have their data management systems, it is the small and medium businesses that will need web providers like us to sustain. SMBs will opt to host with you to use data for specific purposes. Since there are many small and medium businesses cropping up, the business potential for us as web providers is huge.
Additionally, with the focus moving to IPv6 deployment for millions of new sensors which will require unique IP addresses, VeriSign’s Object Naming Service (ONS) is a model put forth to tackle addressability from a new angle.
ONS is a central registry that stores IP addresses, allowing individuals to look up information about specific objects across a distributed supply chain. ONS could potentially become a source of revenue for web service providers.
Where do new gTLDs fit with IoT & Smart Cities?
The possibilities when you club ICANN’s 700+ new gTLDs and the Internet of Things in smart cities are endless! Imagine being able to access and control your air-condition temperature, switch off the gas and turn off the lights simply by opening the URL: controls.home. From a brand marketing point of view, specific URL extensions are a huge plus point.
Brands can also geo-locate their websites/brands with location specific TLDs like .NYC, .LONDON and .MADRID. Not just that, brands can use specific extensions for household items, gadgets and more. And example of this is the portable, self-recording, flying & floating camera recorder, Lily, a product already up for purchase in the market which has smartly utilised a new gTLD, .CAMERA. Not only is it a revolutionary technology innovation, www.lily.camera is a smart use of the new extension. From a marketer’s perspective, this is a huge step forward.
Smart cities coupled with the Internet of Things is an avenue waiting to be exploited. The road ahead is still pretty uncertain but is compelling, nonetheless.
Do you think smart cities will become a reality in the next few years? Share your thoughts about the Internet of Things & the way forward in the comments section below.