Sprint: IoT to Shape Future Smart Cities
Ivo Rook Senior VP of IoT, Sprint
IoT to Shape Future Smart Cities
Smart cities are the future. With the recent surge in urbanization, an estimated 68 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050, according to a recent report by the United Nations. The Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled smart communities are laying the foundation for a sustainable, prosperous future and giving rise to smart cities. These evolving cities are focused on creating a sustainable environment, thus helping citizens and businesses to thrive.
A smart, sustainable environment would ensure people can live safer, healthier lives and can work more efficiently. Cities that have deployed IoT-enabled technologies have made radical improvements to public service efficiencies and environmental sustainability. Whether it is through the deployment of smart lighting, smart water metering or smart waste management, or embracing green initiatives that help save energy and reduce urban congestion, smart cities will have a positive impact on people’s lives.
With the spending on smart cities expected to reach $158 billion by 2022 (according to IDC forecasts), this level of investment is poised to make notable changes in the way smart cities will be shaped. Sprint, a leader in the IoT space, is advancing the evolution of cities into smart cities through its leading-edge Curiosity™ IoT solutions.
Smart community test-bed programs, like that at Peachtree Corners, Georgia, ensure that connected device solutions will take advantage of the next-generation 5G network. In Peachtree Corners, smart sensors use cameras and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to help track and analyze foot traffic, vehicle traffic and retail traffic patterns. The volume of people or vehicles can also be counted using sensors to inform community decisions. Sprint’s Curiosity Smart Video Analytics solution helps make this data actionable. Sprint has worked with the city of Greenville, South Carolina over the last year to design and deploy smart city sensor technology and analytics there, as well. Arizona State University recently announced a working relationship with Sprint to bring leading-edge IoT education and technology to their students, along with the broader Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area residents and visitors.
Ivo Rook, senior vice president of IoT and product development at Sprint, is a visionary leader with global influence. Rook leads a world-class team to deliver technologies that change the way people live, the way businesses operate, and the way society evolves. In a relaxed interview, Rook delves into the trends within smart city concepts, Sprint’s strategy in changing the smart city industry, and other innovative ideas. Excerpts from the interview follow.
Investing in Digital Infrastructure
Underlining the importance of investing in digital infrastructure, a fundamental factor for economic growth, Rook identifies digital pavements as a major trend within the existing smart city market. He adds, “In the past, cities would attract investment and look to improve the quality of lives of their citizens by investing in rail, roads, or subways. While these kinds of investments are still relevant, today cities realize that the best way to stay ahead is to invest in the digital infrastructure of the future.”
Smart City Applications – The Game Changers
Noting that smart city applications have become game changers in today’s society, Rook believes that this trend is truly changing the way cities operate and the way residents live and work. “Digital infrastructure is not about creating only networks. For instance, providing true mobile 5G helps increase the network capacity in a city, supporting blazing-fast speeds that can be put to a lot of use. But the real value comes from the applications that 5G can support and unleash.”
Elaborating more on Curiosity, Rook notes, “We don’t look at Curiosity as technology any more. We look at it as a movement that changes how people live, businesses operate and the way we contribute to how society evolves.” He stresses that the digital pavement not only needs to serve smartphones, but also needs a network for billions of sensors to be connected and for supporting applications to work seamlessly. “We are talking about applications that will increasingly use artificial intelligence to power systems that work autonomously, such as cars and robotics,” Rook says.
Three Elements of Smart City Strategy
Rook elaborates on the three important elements that Sprint focuses on: how people move, how people live and how people live longer.
On how people move: With an investment of $100 billion, the SoftBank Vision Fund is one of the largest equity investors in up and coming technologies, such as IoT, mobile applications, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics. The first Vision Fund has invested in digital innovators such as Uber, Nauto, Getaround, and DoorDash that are shaping how people move. “Sprint is proud to be part of the SoftBank ecosystem with access to some of the leading influencers in this space,” Rook said.
On how people live: Sprint’s investment in Curiosity™ Lab at Peachtree Corners – 500 acres of innovation space designed to provide a real-world test environment to advance next-generation intelligent mobility and smart city technology – has been truly remarkable. Rook claims, “The space, paved with the latest 5G, micro-positioning, and our Curiosity IoT platform, is unique in that it blends public infrastructure with autonomous vehicle test roads. Even the City Hall is housed within the technology park and we have created a regulatory climate positive for entrepreneurs. We also have advanced testbeds in Greenville, South Carolina, that help showcase our commitment to enhancing how people live.”
On how people live longer: Noting that in the past, healthcare related technology was more focused on connecting patients, Rook observes how healthcare providers are able to be proactive when something goes wrong. “Now with the ability of AI, combined with connected devices, you can predict a health scare and initiate action before something happens. These technologies now play a critical role in how we help improve life expectancy. Thanks to the 3 billion heartbeats we monitor every day, patients who suffer from a cardiac condition will be warned using advanced AI – before an unfortunate incident strikes – thus literally saving lives,” states Rook.
Dedicated, Virtualized, Distributed Network
Stressing the need for a dedicated, virtualized and distributed core network, Rook notes that Sprint believes in creating technology that enhances people’s lives, thereby connecting them to what matters most. This innovative approach is foundational to enabling smart city success. Rook explains, “First you separate the IoT traffic from the smartphone traffic and route it to its dedicated core. Second, for virtualization, you need to turn your entire network into software and run it as an application. Third, since the network is built for software, you run it on bare metal which is the same infrastructure that powers the cloud.” The network can be run from anywhere – within a Sprint site, a public data center, or even a business’s location. “This also creates the best possible infrastructure for customers to develop the best possible applications,” observes Rook. “We even allow our customers to put their application on our node. Simply put this is how we make sure that IoT devices will transmit data faster and can utilize AI more efficiently. Unlike other operators, we allow developers and customers to put their applications into our network.”
Regarding challenges faced by companies enabling smart city concepts, Rook notes that most smart city projects are pilots where the focus is to prove technical feasibility. “These projects don’t essentially focus on the economic benefits, especially profitability, to the companies that invest. This is not easy because while these pilots address macro issues such as congestion, pollution or parking, the difficulty arises when companies try to commercialize these solutions.” This happens because connecting the business benefit from specific applications to the macro urbanization issue that is being addressed is not always an easy task, Rook adds. “Building a digital pavement will make the path to realizing economic benefits much easier by enabling local innovation.”
A parting word of advice Rook offers to entrepreneurs, “My very simple answer is, if you don’t look at things as failure, there is nothing to fear.” This especially rings true in the smart city industry as smart technologies become more prominently adopted in large cities across the world.
Top 25 Smart City Technology CEOs of 2020
The idea of a SC: Smart City and its growing impact Strength, Performance
The idea of a smart city has become extremely important when it comes to the context of defining the strength, performance, facility, demography and urban economy. How a smart city would perform? In what ways we can identify a smart city?
When it comes to understanding a city in terms of scientific growth and implementing important policies with the right quotient of strategies, it has a tremendous impact on the socio-economic growth of the place and worldwide. Several reports and research studies indicated there will be a continuous rise in the population living in the urban city. Under this circumstance, the present Government needs to tighten the loose ends. The first important aspects are to make all the resources easily available for the people to utilize. Not just basic resources, but when it comes to luxurious resources, the people living in the urban city have first access to it. A person’s mind is extremely inquisitive; they search for the technology that makes their life extremely easy and convenient. In a way, this contributes to the economic and social growth in a city but gives their poor environmental sustainability.
How does the scientist look into this growth?
Growth in technology is so widespread that some of the issues and problems that need immediate attention are often overlooked. The rise in population means deterioration of air quality, transportation, and economic risks. Not just this they are open to major health consequences. When the population density in a city is lesser, the lesser will be the energy consumed for electricity and transportation, which will certainly help in the dropping of carbon-dioxide. But there is no way that all these can be controlled. The situation indicates that the cities are in need of smarter ways to control and combat the new challenges.
The rate of metabolism in cities consists of consuming essential products and excreting waste. This is a common phenomenon and is unavoidable. This gives rise to socio-economic issues. Promoting any goods for sustainability has been taken through the growth and marketing of natural capital stocks. Also, if we consider and take into account city sustainability, this also promotes an anthropocentric approach. According to this, a city responds to people’s requirements for sustainability solutions or socio-economic growth.
If we have to consider that the cities with the high urban population depend on transportation facilities, land uses and other facilities, then we could be certain that this will also have an impact on technological growth. Public transport will be more efficient and will be of the highest quality to be able to respond to the economic needs of the city as well. It gives a better meaning of labor with employment, thus increasing the productivity of the firm.
As we take a new approach towards urban service provision, there is growth in technology, including ICT. The concept of a smart city is not limited to technological aspects alone. With the growing relevance of the smart city concept, the definition and meaning are also changing, giving rise to greater confusion and challenges for the policy-makers. In the next sections, we would take look at the deeper impact and implications of technology towards building a smart city.
The concept of the SC: The first pillar of a smart city – Institutional development
The concept of the smart city differs from person to person. For some, a city flourishes with its institutional growth, and for some, an excellent infrastructural development is a definition of a progressive city. To understand the sustainability and transition of a smart city, we must first trace the organic growth in its socio-technical system, which means that there is a need for a noticeable change in the institutional-material structures of the smart city.
– “Regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements that, together with associated activities and resources, provide stability and meaning to social life” (Scott, 1995)
The three prominent dimensions that need to be carefully considered to order to determine the development of a city as a smart city are as follows:
Regulative – A city requires explicit regulatory processes, such as formal rules, laws, policies, protocols, and standards to constitute a developed city. In case if a city fails to comply with these rules, there may have more profound implications in terms of legal sanctions. When we try and analyze how a city can develop based on the above points, we have a fair idea and understanding that the institutional analysis of smart city initiatives would elaborate on the formal dimensions of these initiatives. This should be done in such a way in which they are deep-rooted in urban, regional, national, or even international policy initiatives for urban development.
Normative – A city should have rules that introduce a prescriptive, evaluative, and obligatory dimension. This should also refer to changes like values, role expectations, social norms, duties, and responsibilities. Just in case if a city fails to comply with these rules, it may result in strong emotional responses for those who show active behavior of following the rules, which can lead to a sense of shame or disgrace. On the contrary, it would raise a feeling of pride and honor, if all rules are diligently followed. As the debate of what makes a city smart continues, it has increased the scope and needs for more inclusive development. It may also be noted that the economic, social, and ecological challenges may have a far-reaching impact and ideally should also be prioritized in order to consider a city to be smart. However, it should be a significant point of discussion for the policymakers to prioritize the smart city initiatives and form the goals.
Cognitive – To understand the cognitive dimension, we should understand the cognitive behavior of the people. The world is interpreted based on shared conceptions and frames through which the social-structure gains meaning. Comprehensively, they form implicit ‘cultural reservoirs’ or ‘cognitive logics’ for action. These schemes can lead to confusion if not conformed at the earliest stage of policy formation. Symbols, discourse, and cultural categories, and how they are ‘brought to life’ in social interactions, are essential elements of the cultural-cognitive pillar in forming a smart city. For example, in the analysis of how smart cities are framed as solutions to contemporary urban challenges and such conversational approaches have received relatively much interest in this field, in forming a critical perspective of a smart city.
The study of a smart city is framed propositions for comparison as highlighted below:
- Prevailing institutional pillars can be regulative, normative as well as cognitive. It configures the form of new smart city institutional arrangements (or governance arrangements).
- These pillars are place-specific and multi-scalar. And hence, institutional arrangements across urban contexts will differ.
- The study of a smart city will be based on specific facts and data. It will vary from places to places based on different features and outcomes across the urban contexts.
- The cities that are elected as smart cities in each country should be explored based on certain socio-cultural, institutional, technologies, and other engagements.
A smart city is not as perceived to be but as explored to be one.
The second pillar of a smart city – Development of physical infrastructure
When all focus is on building your smart city, how can we negate the role of the development of physical infrastructure? The purpose of physical infrastructure towards the development of a smart city is essential and critical. It provides the base foundation upon which a smart city is developed. Due to an increase in population and pollution, our Earth is going through a series of environmental changes. Our world is open to countless challenges every day.
To have a smart city, developing smart physical infrastructure is vital. It is fundamentally essential because technology should be intelligently used. Today, some of the critical information technology (IT) companies have provided solutions for a sustainable planet and city, and by far the technology plays an important role in achieving this. Smart physical infrastructure is making our world a better place to live. An excellent physical infrastructure integrated with intelligent technology provides a strong resistance to certain environmental imbalance and shock. When your city is equipped with the latest and modern technology, your strong infrastructure can withstand natural calamities or environmental changes. You take a step ahead to set an example for the people who haven’t thought of the solution before.
How smart technology integrated with physical infrastructure to develop a smart city?
Smart technology creates specific opportunities for people. In order to build outstanding physical infrastructure with smart technology and solutions, we need to understand the requirements. A smart city can never be built in a day. It requires planning, serious decision making, and implementation in a real way. All sectors involved in planning the physical infrastructure need to put together all important aspects to bring it to a visible result.
To consider our environment, one must understand the economic possibilities. New businesses and services are offered in the developing city when the costs are reduced. Innovation and cutting-edge technology are merged with the existing physical infrastructure of a city that works best for all the sectors of physical infrastructure required to the lives of people in a smart city. It is a perfect source for developing the city. The successful development of a smart city requires technology integration, as advanced technologies are used in many areas to build a smart physical infrastructure.
Some of these leading technology services include:
- Low-cost communications
- Real-time analysis and control
- Technology integration of isolated pre-existing services
Smart City Development
As a smart city requires a smart physical infrastructure, sustainable urban development, or the city that is heading towards development also requires a smart infrastructure. There are many challenges that a city faces on its way towards a developed city. Being well-equipped with smart technology can over-power any challenges that come on its way towards development. Integrating buildings, building infrastructure, taking care of basic needs, and providing services with real-time information technology constitutes a smart city. Towards urban development, today, the cities have created a strong base of smart physical infrastructure.
There are some smart principles like data collection and analysis, which have made it possible to manage and take care of the necessities of the cities and the residents. Water system management, energy and utility grids, transportation, and all services that a smart city resident requires to maintain a decent lifestyle, wouldn’t have been possible without proper research of people’s basic requirements. As for these objectives of the data assessment to build the perfect the development of the smart city has become a reality.
When you have a smart physical infrastructure, society can progress. The integration of energy, utilities, and telecommunications are important parts of physical infrastructure. Thankfully, the smart city development has become a global phenomenon with the use of smart devices. Smart energy, smart buildings, smart water, smart transportation, and other sectors have made our life so easy. There is a rise in energy-efficient buildings, which is an integral part of smart physical infrastructure. These are great contributions to developing a smart city. And it also plays a crucial role in building a sustainable planet.