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Envisioning Intelligent Cities

Pethuru Ray and Anupama C. Raman

The information technology (IT) landscape is continuously captivating owing to the faster maturity of newer and nimbler technologies that open up fresh possibilities and hitherto unforeseen opportunities. In particular, manifold new-generation applications and services are being developed and delivered as a result of the unprecedented stability of upheaving and transformative technologies. For example, we extensively read about enterprise (transactional and analytical), embedded, social, mobile, and cloud applications in the recent past. Converged platforms and infrastructures are being built to streamline application design and development (from the ground up or assembling), deployment, management, integration, and delivery requirements. In other words, a paradigm shift has occurred. IT has been the prime enabler of worldwide businesses and today is being prescribed as a viable, venerable, and value-adding mechanism for empowering individuals. With self-, surroundings-, and situation-aware technologies emerging and evolving, scores of context-sensitive services could be readily built and deployed to enhance human care, choice, convenience, and comfort substantially.

Unfolding the Smarter Planet Vision

In the recent past, a horde of automation and acceleration technologies in the IT domain have been positioned to ensure a productive journey toward the realization of revolutionary, real-time, and real-world people-centric applications. The well-known and recognized accomplishments hitherto unheard of include software-defined cloud environments, cognitive computing, ambient communication, ubiquitous sensing, vision and perception, predictive and prescriptive analytics based on big data, knowledge engineering, social networking sites, ad hoc networking, mobility, smart spaces, and digital societies. The future too seems to be very bright and endowed with numerous pragmatic breakthroughs. Situation-aware edge technologies (tags, stickers, codes, chips, labels, sensors, microcontrollers, smart dust, light-emitting diode [LED] lights, motes, speckles, etc.) carrying our personal profiles and preferences digitally will map, merge, and mingle with other entities and elements in our locations (personal and professional) to effortlessly, precisely, and perfectly understand people's needs and fulfill them deftly and dynamically in time in synchronization with IT.

The commonly found artifacts and articles in our midst can be digitally empowered to be smart in their outlooks. This purpose-specific transition is achieved mainly by two matured processes. The first consists of internally embedding multifaceted functional modules into any tangible objects (mechanical, electrical, electronics, etc.) using nano-scale technologies and adeptly instrumenting new-generation devices to be distinct in their characteristics. The second consists of externally attaching diminutive, disappearing, and disposable computers, communicators, sensors, and actuators. The idea is ultimately to enable every physical thing to be interconnected; interactive; and finally, intelligent. For example, our coffee cups, dinner plates, tables, tools, terminals, tangibles, and tablets, and clothes will be skillfully empowered to be smart in their interactions with other products in the vicinity and even with human beings. Eventually all sorts of physical day-to-day items will be smoothly transitioned into smart and sentient digital entities. Hence future generations will no doubt experience and realize completely new technology-sponsored and flourished digital living. The impact of IT in our lives becomes bigger, deeper, yet more relaxed and unobtrusive with time.

Technologies for enabling minimization, interconnectivity, services, federation, virtualization, perception, analytics and actuation, and so on are fast maturing toward producing affordable, connected, dependable, people-aware, and context-sensitive systems and services. In a nutshell, technologies are increasingly penetrative, participative, and productive. Technology-driven integration among digitalized objects at the ground (physical) level with scores of Web, social, embedded, and enterprise software applications at the cyber level will pour out a stream of futuristic, adaptive, and knowledge-filled and mission-critical applications. That is, IT roles and responsibilities are bound to thrive substantially in peoples' lives. Already machines are talking to one another locally as well as remotely. Services hosted across geographically distributed cloud infrastructures are interacting with one another in an ad hoc manner according to evolving needs to conceive, compose, and provide sophisticated facilities, features, and functionalities. As the Internet of Things (IoT) idea unfolds and expands, casual and cheap items are being endowed to join in mainstream computing. Business ventures, investors, and entrepreneurs are hence strategizing to embrace competent technologies to keep the edge earned intact, and IT is gradually yet happily moving toward the originally envisaged human empowerment. All of these delightful transformations, optimizations, simplifications, and so on will result in smarter spaces. In other words, peoples' care, choice, convenience, and comfort levels will reach greater heights in the days to come. The main purpose of this chapter is to describe the key drivers and trends, the principal benefits to governments and their constituents, the eruption of versatile and value-adding technologies, and the prickling challenges ahead. We dig deeper and extract the essential details about the rapidly emerging idea of smart cities.

The Need for Intelligent Cities

Cities are emerging as the principal drivers for the overall growth of nations across the world. They are the primary innovation hubs and provide plentiful opportunities for various stakeholders including immigrants, skilled workers, innovators, investors, local governments, and entrepreneurs. Highly visible establishments such as universities and research labs, coupled with clusters of industries and knowledge workers with higher education, industry experience, and technology expertise pouring into cities, augur well for the increasing relevance of cities for their occupants. Businesses and commercial establishments are more concentrated in cities, empowering them to be the chief job creators and wealth generators for their inhabitants.

Cities are bound to become the most appropriate building blocks and the key focus area for nations in the years to unfold. Our cities are slated to become lovable, livable, and sustainable because of the smart leverage and immense contributions of highly robust and resilient technologies. The cities of the future are going to be elegantly and extremely connected and cognizant, grandly synchronized and IT enabled, and software intensive. All kinds of city resources are being optimally shared across. City infrastructures are being well planned, executed, shared, and maintained while taking into account the changing equations of peoples' expectations. Above all, the cities around the world ought to be greatly people-centric, converged, sensitive and responsive (S & R) for any eventualities, deftly anticipative and active, green, exemplarily exquisite, service-oriented, event-driven, and so on. Accordingly, newer and nimbler techniques, tips, and tools explicitly provide a stimulating and sustainable foundation for knowledge generation, corroboration, correlation, and dissemination. Thus the concept of knowledge incubation is to become a common entity by ingeniously leveraging all the significant and astute developments in the analytics space for cities to be increasingly knowledge-inspired and inclined. The fast-maturing domain of big data analytics comes in handy in realizing knowledge cities across the globe.

Clouds will become the central and core IT infrastructure for hosting, managing, and delivering people-centric city services, applications, and data. More unified IT platforms will be in place to facilitate the formation and maintenance of smart cities. The transition to service-oriented architecture (SOA) and event-driven architecture (EDA) helps the prosperity of cities in many ways. That is, besides the much-applauded cloud enablement, service enablement is going to be a game-changer for cities of the future to be intrinsically extensible and sustainable. The accessibility, simplicity, and, consumability of city services are being quickly and easily facilitated through a growing array of intuitive and natural interfaces. Service implementation platforms will become pervasive and persuasive too for simplifying and streamlining smart city implementations and enhancements. National leaders, government officials, public servants, and bureaucrats will eventually show greater interest in formulating and forming the right and relevant policies, powerful processes, and pragmatic practices as a vital precursor toward intelligent cities. The next-generation cities will be hugely endowed with competent and cognitive social, physical, and cyber infrastructures. Ultimately people will be smartest in their deeds, deals, and decisions ably assisted by a growing array of networked and multifaceted devices. The city government will become transparent, auditable, responsible, and accountable. The service delivery mechanism will go through a series of reformations and recognitions, insightfully benefiting people. All kinds of wastage, pilferage, slippage, and shrinkages can be fully identified in time and avoided so that human productivity and system efficiency can be increased considerably.

City-Specific Challenges

Numerous critical and crucial issues are noticeably plaguing cities worldwide these days. Large and mega cities are beset with scores of problems as a result of rapid and unbridled urbanization. That is, the consistent shrinkage of various livelihood resources, the continued growth in the urban population due to the spike in peoples' migration to cities primarily in search of jobs, and so on complicate the already overloaded and overcrowded cities. Other noteworthy trends include global warming, a lack of or poor city infrastructures, a decline in the safety and security of people and property, a slide in seamless transport, a growing scarcity of energy and clean water, and so forth. The unfortunate result is the sharp decline in and dissatisfaction with the quality of city dwellers' lives. Another factor is that the receding and recessionary world economy puts more stress and strictures on declining and deteriorating cities. As city budgets are being slashed everywhere, the mantra of "more with less" gains prominence and hence there is a clarion call for a flurry of activities such as rationalization, simplification, optimization, standardization, automation, and so on through an apt adoption and adaptation of IT. Well-known challenges for our cities include the following:

  • Environmental sustainability and ecological degradation. Global warming and climate change are occurring as a result of the enormous outflow of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
  • Teeming population and at the same time scarcity of resources.
  • Rapid urbanization, exposing the infrastructural weaknesses and insufficiency.

Trickling Urbanization Challenges

It has been said that the world is no longer a comity of nations but is being visualized as a dynamic collection of cities. Cities are bound to play a vital role in strengthening and shaping up human society in the years ahead. Urbanization is happening rapidly as people migrate in large numbers to urbanized areas to find suitable jobs and to sustain their livelihoods. Governments are encouraging and enabling both private and public sectors to set up innumerable industry clusters incity outskirts. Cities are given prime importance in formulating and framing of policies, developmental roadmaps, and processes. It is estimated that by 2050, 70% of the total world population will live in cities. An IBM white paper reports that city planning officials are faced with critical decisions of how to deal with these swelling city populations. Large-scale population centers and countries such as China and India are expected to have more people in their cities. Because of the uncertainty in the global economy, the resource crunch is being premised as the huge barrier for cities to grow their infrastructures to accommodate the growing population. Fresh cities are being carefully designed and developed to enhance the quality of life considerably.

Having understood the mandated transformation for worldwide cities, those who are in charge and control of cities are seriously strategizing and brainstorming to finalize workable ways and means of steadily embracing the sparkling concept of smart city. Standards-compliant technical solutions and deployment architectures are being prepared to painstakingly build an intelligent digital nervous system supporting all sorts of existing and emerging urban operations. The pace of digitalization is picking up quickly; the interconnectivity among distributed, diverse, and decentralized systems is being established and preserved; the goal of service enablement of every participating and contributing system module is being speeded up to enhance interoperability in the midst of diversity; virtualization/containerization (overwhelmingly through the Docker solution) is being accelerated for the portability factor; and fruitful integration with social sites is being carried out to readily understand peoples' concerns, comments, compliments, curiosities, and so on.

The Vast Potentials of Smart Cities

At the same time, cities also open up fresh opportunities for individuals, innovators, and institutions to contemplate and do different things for the betterment of societies and communities. Cities need to change their structure and behavior remarkably to cogently fit with the distinctly identified and articulated ideals of the smarter world, the vision being proclaimed and pursued vigorously and rigorously by leading IT companies today. This incredible and long-term notion of the smarter world is being presented as the next logical move by worldwide technology creators and service providers to be relevant in their long and arduous journey. There are several key drivers and motivators for the surging popularity of this game-changing concept as a series of decisive developments and advancements in the form of a growing community of realization technologies being unfolded to simplify the hitherto unknown path toward the challenging transformation. Smart cities, as a noticeable component of the smarter world, occupy a substantial and venerable position in the journey.

City Transformation Strategy

Worldwide cities yearn for remarkable and resilient transformations in two major aspects: city operation model and information leverage. Another vital point not to be taken lightly is to sharply enhance the user experience of city services. The following five factors are overwhelmingly accepted as promoting the desired city renovation.

  • Infrastructure optimization
  • Technology adaptation and adoption
  • Process excellence
  • Architecture assimilation
  • Making sense of data and leveraging it for city efficiency

Infrastructure Optimization

The overwhelming adoption of infrastructure consolidation, convergence, centralization, federation, automation, and sharing methods clearly indicates that the much-maligned infrastructure landscape is bound to be supple and smart in the days to follow. Compute, communication, and storage infrastructures are going through a bevy of exemplary transitions. Hardware infrastructures are turned and tuned to be network discoverable and accessible, loosely coupled yet cohesive, programmable, and remotely manageable in a virtual space. In the recent past, we heard and read more about software-defined environments (SDEs), that is, things are moving in the direction of complete and comprehensive virtualization of every tangible element. It started with server virtualization and now we are heading toward storage, network, desktop, service, application, data, operating system (OS) virtualization (alternatively termed as containerization), and so on. Several buzzwords thus emerged in the IT industry: software-defined infrastructure (SDI), software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined storage (SDS), and so on. First there were data centers (DCs), then cloud centers, and now software-defined cloud centers (SDCCs). We discuss the raging cloud paradigm in great detail in this and subsequent chapters.

System Infrastructure

Hardware infrastructures include servers, storage, network solutions, specific appliances, and so on. Software infrastructure solutions are plentiful, as listed here.

  • Application and data infrastructure—Development, execution, and management platforms and containers, databases, cubes, marts, and warehouses, and so on.
  • Middleware and management infrastructure—This includes integration hubs, buses, backbones, engines and fabrics, messaging brokers, etc. With the intensifying complexity of IT space resulting from the uninhibited complicity and heterogeneity of technologies, products, programming languages, design approaches, protocols, data formats, and so on, the importance of introspective and insightful middleware solutions increases considerably.

Infrastructures are becoming lean, mean, and green. Further, with IT agility becoming operationalized as IT infrastructures are optimized and organized by leveraging cloud principles, the goal of increasing business agility is steadily approaching reality. Considering the greater and impressive role of infrastructures for cities of the future, rationalization, simplification, automation, orchestration, and so on are the chief techniques to enable IT to be cognitively city-friendly. Precisely speaking, the cloud paradigm represents IT industrialization, standardization, and commoditization.

The Adoption of Versatile Technologies

It is a fact that a number of noteworthy transitions and trends are occurring in the IT fi d. At the fundamental and foundational level, a variety of nimbler technologies are emerging to bring desirable transformations in data capture, representation, transmission, enrichment, storage, processing, analysis, mining, visualization, and virtualization tasks.

  • Digitalization is spreading quickly—With the enhanced and enticed maturity and stability of smartness-enabling technologies, platforms, and processes, every tangible object is set to become smart in its actions and reactions. "Dumb" and fixed objects in our midst are being consciously readied to join in mainstream computing. Ordinary articles become extraordinary artifacts to be computational, communicative, sensitive, responsive, perceptive, and so on. Besides the decisive miniaturization technologies such as nanotechnology, micro-electromechanical systems, and so on, more powerful edge technologies such as pads, stickers, labels, tags, cards, chips, speckles, and nano-scale materials are powering up collectively the goal of transitioning physical items into digital ones. In short, the key drivers for the impending smarter world are computing, communication, sensing, vision, fusion, perception, knowledge-engineering, interfacing, and actuation technologies. That is, self-, situation-, and surroundings-aware technologies are emerging and evolving rapidly.
  • Digitalization toward sentient and smart materials—Attaching scores of edge technologies (invisible, calm, infinitesimal and disposable sensors and actuators, stickers, tags, labels, motes, dots, specks, etc.) with common objects results in the accumulation of digital objects that can be registered, discovered, service-enabled, integrated, orchestrated, and so on. Digital technologies enable an effective and sustainable development of different types of city services for residents, visitors, and businesses. Digital technology contributes much toward seamless public transport, travel (carpooling and sharing), road maintenance, traffic, parking, energy, waste disposal, street lighting, and urban furniture. Technologies also play an essential role in building relations with the local population, encouraging tourism and culture and developing the area's appeal for businesses, companies, and shops.
  • Consumerization (extended device landscape)—There is a huge market for trendy and handy, slim and sleek mobile, wearable, implantable, and portable devices. These are instrumented in such a way as to be spontaneously interconnected to exhibit intelligent behaviors. The device landscape is embracing a bevy of miniaturization technologies to be slim and sleek, yet smart in their operations, outlooks, and outputs. Smartphones and wearables are ubiquitous these days and play a very substantial and influential role in people's lives.
  • Extreme and deeper connectivity is another well-known phenomenon to establish and sustain ad hoc connectivity among different and distributed devices at the ground level and with remote, off-premise, on-demand, and online applications.
  • Cyber physical systems (CPSs)—Embedded systems are becom- ing networked; physical systems cyber-enabled; machines integrated with one another as well as with cloud-based services and data; things are Internet worked, and so on as a result of solid improvements in extreme and deeper connectivity and networking standards, technologies, platforms, and appliances.
  • Commoditization and industrialization—IT infrastructures are being commoditized and system components produced in massive volumes to enable selection, assembly, and configuration toward full-fledged systems (software and hardware).
  • Infrastructure optimization—Clouds, the core and central IT infrastructures, are the next-generation infrastructures to be consolidated, converged, centralized yet federated, virtualized, automated, and shared. All kinds of smart city applications, data, platforms, and infrastructures will be in cloud environments. The centrality and criticality of clouds are bound to play a vital and value-adding role for future smart cities. Clouds are programmable, consolidated, converged, adaptive, automated, shared, quality of service-enabling, green, and lean infrastructures.
  • Middleware solutions—include intermediation, aggregation, dissemination, arbitration, enrichment, collaboration, delivery, management, governance, brokering, identity and security.
  • New kinds of data-driven insights (big and fast data analytics).
  • New kinds of databases (analytical, clustered, parallel and distributed SQL databases, NoSQL, and NewSAL databases).

Disruptive and transformative technologies with the smart synchronization of a galaxy of information and communication technologies will emerge to realize revolutionary applications and to accomplish hitherto unheard of social networking and digital knowledge societies. Auto-identification tags carrying our personal profiles and preferences digitally, will map, mix, merge, and mingle with others in realizing new human aspirations. Our daily tools and products can be converted into smart products by attaching ultra-small computers. For example, our coffee cups, dinner plates, tablets, and clothes will be empowered to act smart in their operations and interactions with other products in the vicinity or even with human beings. Finally all the tangible and appropriate objects, materials, and articles will be transitioned into smart and sentient digital artifacts. This will result in the era of IoT in the years to come. Hence future generations no doubt will experience and realize complete and compact technology-enabled living. The impact of IT in our lives becomes bigger, deeper, yet more relaxed and unobtrusive with time.

The Assimilation of Architectures

A family of futuristic and flexible architectural paradigms, patterns, and principles such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), event-driven architecture (EDA), model-driven architecture (MDA), and so on are evolving to be a greater enabler of futuristic systems. Architectural patterns are a kind of complexity-mitigation technique. With multiplicity and heterogeneity-imposed complexity on the rise, architectures are bound to play a stellar role in moderating the unbridled complexity. The veritable trend is that with the stability and maturity of the service paradigm, everything is being presented as a service providing, brokering, and consumer entity. Data, applications, platforms, and even infrastructures are being consciously codified and comingled as publicly discoverable, remotely accessible, autonomous, highly available, usable, reusable, and composable services. With the unparalleled popularity of the service-orientation paradigm, the vision of "Everything is a service" is becoming a reality. Service enablement delicately hides the implementation and operational complexities of all kinds of IT resources and exposes only the functionality and capability of those resources in the form of public interfaces to be dynamically found and bound. Everything is given its functional interface so that other systems and services can find, bind, and leverage the distinct capabilities and competencies of one another.

Services Are Everywhere

The concept of service enablement has penetrated deeper as well as broader. That means every tangible thing is being service enabled. The idea is to just expose its distinct functionality through standardized interfaces rather than the thing itself. That is, the objective of making everything a service is slowly yet steadily seeing the light. The future definitely belongs to a growing collection of adaptive and ambient services as every concrete object in our everyday environment is being explicitly expressed and exposed as a self-describing and autonomous service. This strategic shift is being realized as a result of the unprecedented maturity and stability of the service paradigm principles. This kind of service exposition capability helps every tangible item in our midst to hide behind one or more network-accessible service interfaces. The new concept of interface and implementation segregation goes a long way in conveniently abstracting and dismantling all kinds of differences and deficiencies to facilitate automated and unambiguous identification, assemblage, and utilization of any local as well as remote services. This service-enablement capability enables every tangible thing to join in mainstream computing. In a way, everything can be a service-providing, requesting, and brokering entity.

Such a tectonic transition empowers every service (thing) to dynamically find, understand, bind, and leverage the unique capabilities of services (things) over any network. Such syntactically and semantically correct interactions strengthen the foundation for bringing better and bigger services. As we all know, services are instinctively powerful to be reusable and composable to craft smart and sophisticated service-oriented applications and processes. Another important revelation is that the connectivity capability becomes deeper and extreme. Diminutive, distributed, decentralized, and diverse devices and digitalized objects are increasingly intertwined with one another to make them aware and active. Devices and smart objects are being produced quickly through a host of substantiated methods and they are more tuned to context-awareness and people-centricity.

Devices Are Connected and Cyber-Enabled for People-Centric Services

Leading market analysts and research groups predict that by 2020, there will be more than 50 billion connected devices in the world. That is, all kinds of electronic devices in our working and living places are being empowered to connect with one another in the vicinity as well as with any remote devices. These devices are further enabled to connect and communicate with all sorts of personal and professional software applications and services that could be online, on-demand, off-premise, remotely hosted, managed and maintained in cloud platforms, and so on. In a nutshell, diverse, distributed, and decentralized devices, data sources, and applications are expected to dynamically find, deftly bind, and decisively leverage one another to derive and deliver highly smart and sophisticated services to people in the years to come.

The unique capabilities originating and flourishing with these technology-driven connectivity machinations could provide a stimulating and sustainable foundation for conceptualizing and concretizing a variety of people-centric and path-breaking services and applications in the future. Everyday gadgets and gizmos are appropriately being empowered to manifest distinct computational, communicative, collaborative, and cognitive capabilities in their actions and reactions through two major noteworthy transformations, as stated previously. The first is seamlessly embedding a number of powerful and purpose-specific yet highly miniaturized modules internally into devices to bring in the much-needed smartness in the devices' actions and reactions. The second is establishing a scintillating integration with other machines in the vicinity and with any personal or professional applications in enterprise, Web, and cloud servers indirectly via device middleware solutions. The communication could be wireless or wired for local interactions and the open, public, and inexpensive Internet is the communication infrastructure for remote associations.

Numerous well-written and widely circulated articles and articulations about the fast-emerging and evolving field of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication have appeared in national as well as international publications. The spontaneous integration among disparate machines is acquiring a significant intellectual and market share these days as such a linkage can bring forth a series of innovations and improvisations in each and every industry segment. Increasingly a variety of personal as well as professional devices are becoming intricately yet intimately linked to a growing array of cyber applications, sensor and actuation networks, policy and knowledge bases, social network sites, and data sources in cloud servers and storages. With these prospective and positive trends emanating and evolving rapidly, there is a fruitful possibility and opportunity for speedy conceptualization of services for hitherto unexplored territories. Further, not only new service design and development, but also assembly with existing services to elegantly compose advanced and adaptive applications is bound to become pervasive. Individuals, innovators, and institutions could gain experience in dynamically composing a bevy of sophisticated services and applications across industry segments at the speed of business.

Process Excellence

Processes have been the preferred engine for activating and sustaining the IT domain. There are sophisticated algorithms and methods to bring in a stream of innovations in realizing highly synchronized, slim, and smart processes that directly impact all kinds of business offerings and IT operations. The process engineering and enhancement field is ceaselessly on the right track by inscribing fresh process consolidation and orchestration, process innovation, control, reengineering, process governance, and management mechanisms.

Monitoring and Management of City Processes Today people subscribe to and consume an increasing collection of city services and participate in multiple processes that interact with various city departments and service providers. Hence it is vital for the city to monitor the performance of its services and gain consumers' feelings, preferences, concerns, and deficiencies to bring in necessary rectifications in the subsequent versions of city services [1]. Multiple dimensions of city processes can be monitored and measured in real-time, including

  • Lifestyle processes of the city population
  • Performance of each department to fulfill its services to its people and businesses without getting into the operational details of each department
  • Public sentiment
  • Response and feedback of the constituents Understanding public sentiment could reveal the lacunae in the system design and acting on them can help system designers and architects understand the root causes. This will remarkably improve the multifaceted management of the city, create more fruitful synergies, and help identify new and evolving needs.

Process Management This is the centerpiece of a people-centric platform as it orchestrates multiple processes around a person and integrates services across departments. It has the ability to manage "clusters of services" and this function allows multiple services to function together to run a government program seamlessly. For example, a government program to manage chronic disease in a population is a cluster of services. As the resident uses the various schemes and services in the governance area, the process management component will track the utilization, quality of services, and outcome of these services. The process management capability ultimately dawns on intelligent ways to conceive and deliver smart services to residents.

Make Sense Out of Data for Big Insights

Insights-driven cities are a most welcome development for the future of this world. Data become big data as they are being produced, gathered, and processed in multiple structures (structured, semi-structured, and non-structured) at differing velocities and a large scale. Machine-generated data are far larger than human-generated data. The data volume, velocity, and variety are seeing a remarkable climb. With innumerable devices, tags, stickers, sensors, appliances, machines, instruments, gadgets, and so on becoming fervently deployed in distributed and decentralized fashion in important locations such as homes, hospitals, hotels, and so on, tasks such as data collection, classification, fusion, transition to information and knowledge, and dissemination to authorized users and agents need to be accomplished in real time using a series of greatly sophisticated and dependable technologies.

Big data is quite a recent phenomenon capturing the imaginations of many. Data generation, capture, transmission, storage, processing, analyzing, and mining have been an important factor among worldwide organizations for enhancing business opportunities, productivity, and value. Now with the multiplicity of many data sources, the traditional analytics space is going through a stream of delightful transformations to be better prepared for capturing and capitalizing big data (greater data volume, variety, velocity, variability, etc.). Big data analytics assumes a greater significance and success in promptly realizing needs and reaching out to people in unique ways. Smart city services will be more knowledge encapsulated, context aware, and relevant for people. Real-time analysis results in a ready realization toward producing actionable insights in time with the emergence and escalation of converged, centralized, automated, shared, optimized, virtualized, and even federated cloud infrastructures.

The Key Trends in IT toward Smart Cities

The Shift toward People IT

A bevy of pioneering technologies (service computing, cloud, big data, analytics, mobility, extreme connectivity, etc.) are emerging and evolving rapidly toward the compact fulfillment and the sustenance of the IBM smarter planet vision. The essence of the ensuing era is that every tangible thing in our environments (personal, social, and professional) is destined to become systematically digitalized, service enabled, and interconnected in the immediate vicinity as well as with cloud applications and services to be smart in its actions and reactions. This strictly technology-sponsored empowerment will result in a series of hitherto unforeseen, people-centric, and sophisticated services for humans. Besides a cornucopia of informational, transactional, and knowledge services, a new set of path-breaking services such as context-aware and insights-driven physical services will also be conceived dynamically and delivered to the right people, at the right time and place unobtrusively to enhance the quality of life significantly in this extremely networked world. That is, technologies are coming closer to people to make them the smartest in all their everyday deeds and decisions.

Having contributed to the unprecedented uplift of business operation productivity and for composable businesses, IT is turning toward human productivity. We have been experiencing several noteworthy advancements in the IT landscape. Therefore the shift toward human empowerment is on the right track. That is, not only business services and applications, but also conceptualization, best-of-breed implementations, and maintenance of people-centric and physical services will become available. Best practices, patterns, platforms, processes, and products are being unearthed and built to smooth the route toward the envisioned people-centric IT.

The Era of Smart Computing

What will human life on this planet be like around the year 2025? What kind of lasting impacts, cultural changes, and perceptible shifts will be achieved in human society as a result of the consistent innovations, evolutions, and inventions in information, communication, sensing, vision, perception, knowledge engineering, dissemination, and actuation technologies? Today this has become a dominant and lingering question among leading researchers, luminaries, specialists, and scientists. Many vouch for a comprehensive turnaround in our social, personal, and professional lives owing to a dazzling array of technological sophistications, creativities, and novelties. Presumably computing, communication, perception, and actuation will be everywhere, all the time. The days of ambient intelligence (AmI) are not far away with the speed and astuteness with which scores of implementation technologies are being developed and sustained.

It is also presumed and proclaimed that the ensuing era will be a fully knowledge-driven society. Databases will pave the way for knowledge bases and there will be specialized engines for producing and maintaining self-managing systems. Knowledge systems and networks are readied for autonomic communication. Cognition-enabled machines and expert systems will become our casual and compact companions. A growing array of smarter systems will surround, support, and sustain us in our classrooms, homes, offices, hotels, coffee houses, airport lounges, gyms, restaurants, meeting places, and other vital junctions in large numbers. They will seamlessly connect, collaborate, corroborate, and correlate to understand our mental, social, and physical needs and deliver them in a highly unobtrusive, secure, and relaxed fashion. That is, the right information and appropriate services will be conceived, constructed, and delivered to the right person, at the right time and at the right place. Extensively smart furniture, sensors, and artifacts will become the major contributors to this tectonic and tranquil modernization and migration.

Smarter Environments

Our living, relaxing, and working environment is envisioned as filled with a variety of electronics including environment monitoring sensors, actuators, monitors, controllers, processors, tags, labels, stickers, dots, motes, stickers, projectors, displays, cameras, computers, communicators, appliances, gateways, high-definition IP TVs, and so on. Apart from these, all the physical and concrete items, articles, furniture, and packages will become empowered with computation and communication-enabled components by attachment of specially made electronics onto them. Whenever we walk into such kinds of empowered and augmented environments illuminated with a legion of digitized objects, the devices we carry and even our e-clothes will enter into a calm yet logical collaboration mode and form wireless ad hoc networks with the inhabitants in that environment. For example, if someone wants to print a document from his or her smartphone or tablet and enters into a room where a printer is situated, then the smartphone will begin a conversation with the printer automatically and send the document to be printed.

Thus, in that era, our everyday places will be made informative, interactive, intuitive, and inspiring by embedding intelligence and autonomy into their constituents (audio/video systems, cameras, information and Web appliances, consumer and household electronics, and other electronic gadgets besides digitally augmented walls, floors, windows, doors, ceilings, and any other physical objects and artifacts). Unobtrusive computers, communicators, sensors, and robots will be instructing, instigating, alerting, and facilitating decision making in a smart way, apart from accomplishing all kinds of everyday tasks proactively for human beings. Humanized robots will be extensively used to fulfill our daily physical chores. That is, computers in different sizes, looks, capabilities, interfaces, and prices will be fitted, glued, implanted, and inserted everywhere to be coordinative, calculative, and coherent yet invisible for discerning human minds. In short, the IoT technologies, in sync with cloud infrastructures, analytics, and social and mobile computing, will result in people-centric smarter environments.

The Need for Cloud-Enablement

Infrastructure optimization is the gist of cloud computing. It is all about transforming traditional data centers and server farms to become virtualized, automated, and shared environments so that moving on-premise computer resources (applications, platforms, and hardware resources such as compute, memory, storage, network, etc.) to cloud centers comprises a strategic business decision. Cloud environments are agile, optimized, and software-defined through smartly applying a host of technological advancements.

Cloud hosts online and on-demand applications that can be accessed remotely over a network using multiple input/output devices. This is analogous to centralized and federated electricity generation utilities by government or private individuals through which people can access the required electricity for a small fee based on the amount or duration of power usage. In a similar way, the total compute facility as a coherent pool of virtualized and managed servers (bare metal as well as virtual machines [VMs]) is being put up in a central location to be monitored, managed, and maintained by those with data center administration certifications and capabilities. And any user (individual as well as institution) can subscribe to the relevant and right amount of compute/storage/network facilities at any point in time. That is, it is all about the utility-like resources that inherently support the plug-and-play paradigm. All sorts of infrastructural and usage complexities are displaced and delegated into highly experienced hands. The resounding success is due not only to the extra abstraction obtained through this cloud paradigm but also to the fact that even the average person with an Internet connectivity can easily find and access the growing list of cloud services, applications, data, and other resources immediately.

In a single stroke, the much-discoursed and deliberated cloud paradigm brings to the table an altogether different business, pricing, delivery, and usage model, which deviates significantly from the conventional model. Institutions and innovators, among others, can make use of cloud resources in innumerable ways. All kinds of ICT infrastructures (compute, storage, and network) are being cloud enabled to be subscribed to and used by anyone, anywhere, anytime, on any device. Increasingly IT development, deployment, and enhancement tasks are being slowly yet steadily shifted to large-scale cloud centers that are empowered with all kinds of software engineering frameworks, integrated development environments, testing suites, software containers, integration middleware, and delivery platforms. In a nutshell, cloud is the most sought-after, hot, and happening place.

Services and data made available in the cloud can be more ubiquitously accessed, often at much lower cost. This in turn increases their value by creating opportunities for enhanced orchestration, integration, and analysis on a shared common platform. At its heart, cloud computing is a new operational and business model for IT hosting.

A Few Smart City Use Cases

Any smart city is being aptly presented and proclaimed as a system of systems to emphasize clearly the rising and unbridled complexity of multiple systems collaborating and contributing together in a purposeful manner to fulfill varying needs of cities. Typically a city comprises several modules such as homes, villas and apartments, financial services buildings, multispecialty hospitals, hotels, corporate offices, various types of infrastructures (communication, cyber, social, physical, etc.), educational campuses, shopping malls, entertainment plazas and restaurants, bus and train stations, airports, resorts, spas and casinos, and so on. Considering the growth patterns of cities worldwide, IT solutions providers have brought forth highly competent solutions for different modules such as home networking systems, building automation solutions, energy management software, and so on. There are integrated and insights-driven platforms for managing the different aspects of cities; that is, the centralized monitoring and management of distributed and different environments has become the crucial tenet and testament of city planning and management. Thus IT has become an inseparable part of daily life these days.

Smart Homes Newer types of electronic devices are being placed inside and outside homes. Typically there are hundreds of microcontrollers in any advanced home today. Besides all kinds of household goods, all fixed, mechanical, and electrical articles in a home environment are being digitalized. This digitalization-enabled paradigm shift leads to their becoming linked with one another directly (peer-to-peer) or indirectly through an integration and orchestration middleware (hubs and buses). The reason for envisaging this connectivity is the irrefutable fact that anything capable of interacting with others in the neighborhood or through a network could demonstrate intelligence in its behavior.

With network connectivity and application-level integration, next-generation and premium services can be developed and delivered to a customer's delight. For example, say someone is coming to your home and you are keenly watching your preferred TV programs. The security camera outside your home could capture the image of the person standing outside and the image can be flashed on the TV screen so that you can see and orally command the door of your home to open or not. The connectedness lays a versatile foundation for conceptualization of people-centric services. A few interesting smart home use cases are now presented.

Security and Surveillance This is a leading use case for smart homes. Physical security and safety are important factors for next-generation homes, and effective security and surveillance solutions are available. With the unprecedented rise in cloud space, more generic as well as specific use cases will be unearthed and articulated in the days to come.

Remote Asset Management There ought to be several electricity gulping systems in any smart home. There are remote management solutions allowing residents to remotely operate home-bound devices to save energy costs. For example, adjusting HVAC and lighting in homes remotely is a well-known use for smart homes. Similarly, other important possessions in a smart home can be adjusted remotely toward their effective and efficient functioning. If a new product is being bought and if there is a problem with it, then the post-sale support team for the product can remotely tele-diagnose the problem and provide an appropriate solution to the product owner or do a remote repair. If a physical visit is needed, then the repair team could understand which components need to be replaced or repaired and accordingly arrive with all the right tools and components in hand to attend to the problem in a single trip.

Connected Goods As mentioned previously, household items and kitchen appliances are increasingly connected with one another as well as with remote cloud services. Today solutions and services abound for connected refrigerators that proactively monitor their inventory. Sitting in his or her office , a homeowner can see what is lacking inside a refrigerator through his or her smartphone and on the way back home could buy the needed goods. A parent can understand how much milk and orange juice is available for the children. Similarly connected washing machines can determine if the user is over or underutilizing detergent. Further, e-shirts can talk to the washing machine to decide the optimal washing, rinsing, and spinning needs for those items. Connected ovens can notify family members via a text message when chocolate chip cookies are fully ready. The recipe details can be automatically downloaded by ovens from cloud-based services to come out with delicious meals. Similarly, other appliances, microwave ovens, juicers, mixers, coffee makers, toasters, and so on operate collaboratively to off several unique experiences to the occupants of a home.

Connected Consumer Electronics The range of consumer electronics solutions is truly phenomenal. Computers, communication gateways, security appliances, medical instruments, printers and scanners, cameras (still as well as running images), game consoles, TVs, video players, personal handsets, and so on are increasingly connected with one another as well as with off-premise cloud servers. The growing connectivity enables next-generation devices individually as well as collectively to conceive newer and premium services for people in the days to follow.

These intelligently instrumented, fixed yet interconnected, service-oriented and cloud-enabled electronics in synchronization with consumer goods will bring about a stream of enhanced choice, care, convenience, and comfort. Smart cars are becoming closely aligned with human requisites these days. The prospective integration of vehicles with smart home solutions and services will facilitate more sophisticated benefits for consumers. There are in-vehicle infotainment solutions along with eye-catching dashboards in automobiles wirelessly interacting with home-bound devices at vehicular speed to implement delightful services for car users. Further, cloud-connected smart vehicles are capable of orchestrating multiple tasks dynamically. Thus physical systems in collaboration with cyber applications can gain a variety of distinct capabilities and competencies dynamically to be cognitive and context-aware in their actions.

With the maturity of miniaturization, edge, and digital technologies, every tangible object is digitalized toward local as well as remote connectivity. Thus connected consumer and household goods and electronics in association with connected vehicles on the road can breed delightful innovations in large measure. For example, the data collected from a security/surveillance camera will be able to determine proactively if the person parking his car in your parking slot is your son or not. If so, the energy management system will turn on the air conditioning in the house and some interior and exterior lights. If not, the energy management solution will turn on exterior security lighting and notify your smartphone that an unidentified visitor is in your parking place. Data generated, captured, and transmitted instantly by these connected entities can be duly transformed into actionable information by analytical, knowledge engineering and expert systems for actuators as well as practitioners to do their tasks perfectly and precisely in time. Thus the era of knowledge-based process automation is being activated with knowledge emanating from interconnected entities.

It is anticipated that as with smartphone service stores today, there will be smart home services stores aplenty. Resident in sensors and device clouds, these stores can be accessed and used by various smart home embedded systems to realize hitherto uncharted applications for homeowners and occupants. We expect various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), cloud service providers (CSPs), standard bodies, telecommunication and IT services providers, application developers, and so on, to work together to power up smarter homes of the future. Users can buy those services or subscribe to other services. It is a hybrid world altogether. At all levels, the required intelligence is incorporated. Next-generation devices will be innately intelligent, integration with cloud-based services could enhance any service-enabled electronics with relevant insights, and connectedness with nearby as well as faraway devices will also contribute to intelligent behavior.

Wireless broadband communication, ambient, agile, and adaptive sensors and actuators, smart heating, lighting, ventilation and air control systems, sophisticated energy-efficient and connectable edutainment infotainment electronics, home security appliances, kitchen utensils, and so on will be ubiquitously and prominently utilized in home environments of the future to sufficiently enhance the quality of life. Digital electronics, technology-enabled and gripped spaces, the information superhighway, the Internet of services things, and energy all individually contribute to the goals of smarter homes. Sophistication and smartness are the decisive trends in home ICT. The powerful arrival of cloud technology works in sync with smart home technologies and methodologies to lead to smarter homes.

Other Potential Uses A variety of incredible and strategically sound results can be achieved with the smart adoption of these technologies. For example, in the energy domain, the pulsating smart electric grid idea is quickly proliferating to enhance energy saving. The Internet of Energy (IoE) is a new topic of deeper study and research for energy efficiency among students, scholars, and scientists across the globe. Other prominent applications include the establishment and sustenance of smarter environments such as smarter homes, hotels, offices, cars, and so on. For example, smarter buildings are an indispensable constituent of smart cities. The use cases include the following:

  • Building automation system—Automatic management of various electrical as well as electronic systems inside and outside buildings.
  • Energy management system—Switching off unutilized power- consuming entities using presence sensors for reduced electricity consumption and less heat dissipation to our fragile and warming environment.
  • Security and safety of people and properties.
  • Remote operations and management of all kinds of devices, information appliances, kitchenware, consumer electronics, medical instruments, and so on.
  • Ambient assisted living (AAL) —Providing all kinds of care and facilities for those who are living alone, debilitated, bedridden, and diseased.
  • Smart bus/train stations and ports—Figure 1.3 clearly illuminates how smart stations can be achieved with technological advancements and adoption.
  • Smart traffic—This is an important use case for future IT- enabled cities.

Similarly there are a number of technology-sponsored benefits to people living in cities. We discuss these further in the subsequent chapters. Further, an increasing array of optimization techniques and tips is bound to emerge and evolve to bring in bigger and better things for human society. Digital living is the ultimate result.


  1. TCS Innovation Labs(2013). Intelligent Cities: A City Process Management Approach. White paper.

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This article is an excerpt from:

The emergence of highly promising and potent technologies has enabled the transition of ordinary objects into smart artifacts—providing wider connectivity of digitized entities that can facilitate the building of connected cities. This book provides readers with a solid foundation on the latest technologies and tools required to develop and enhance smart cities around the world.

The book begins by examining the rise of the cloud as the fundamental technology for establishing and sustaining smart cities and enterprises. Explaining the principal technologies and platform solutions for implementing intelligent cities, the book details the role of various technologies, standards, protocols, and tools in establishing flexible homes and the buildings of the future.


About the Authors

Pethuru Raj, PhD has been working as a cloud infrastructure architect in the IBM Global Cloud Center of Excellence, IBM India Bangalore. Previously he worked as TOGAF-certified enterprise architecture consultant in Wipro Consulting Services Division, Bangalore. He also had a fruitful stint as a lead architect in the corporate research division of Robert Bosch, India. He has gained thirteen years of IT industry experience. Dr. Raj finished the CSIR-sponsored PhD degree in Anna University, Chennai, and continued the UGC-sponsored postdoctoral research in the department of Computer Science and Automation, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore until 1999. Thereafter, he was granted a couple of international research fellowships (JSPS and JST) to work as a research scientist for three years in two leading Japanese universities. His technical competencies lie in service oriented architecture, cloud computing, enterprise architecture, context-aware computing and machine-to-machine integration, Big Data Analytics, Smart Cities, and business integration methods.

Anupama Raman is currently working as Content Lead for Smart Cities Brand of IBM and she is a part of Software group, Industry Solutions of IBM India. Prior to this, she was working with EMC Data Storage. She is a certified Storage Area Networking expert and is also a certified Data Center Architect. She is also certified in Cloud infrastructure and Services Management. Apart from these technical certifications, in the field of writing. She is a certified Information mapping professional and in the field of project management, she is a certified Scrum master. She holds an M.Tech degree in Computer Science and Engineering and is currently pursuing an MBA in IT Management. She has presented and published over twenty research papers in various national and international conferences and she has also written numerous book chapters with various national and international publishers.


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