Data at the heart of Smart City

Published on 10 June 2022

Smart cities put data and digital technology to work to make communities more energy efficient, more resilient and safer. From  the network infrastructure that provides the backbone of a smart city to end-use applications, SPIE is helping to future-proof urban areas  and improve the quality of life of residents.

Carole Bonnafous and Jacco Saaman Smart Data & IoT Director at SPIE ICS and Business Development & Innovations Director at SPIE Nederland

What is the smart city of tomorrow?

Jacco Saaman: In the future, and it’s already true today, technology must be used to serve the people living there: keeping them healthy, connecting them with others, ensuring they have enough energy when they need it, contributing to a clean environment. Some of the main areas where smart technology is being put to use are health, mobility, the energy transition, sustainability, safety and cybersecurity.

Carole Bonnafous: There isn’t just one model of a smart city. Each city has its own challenges: these may be social or environmental, involve urban planning or the digitalisa-tion of public services. It is essential to discuss concerns with city governments to define their priorities so the right solutions can be put in place.

What is the place of data in the smart city?

C. B.: A smart city requires the infrastructure for connectivity, the sensors and devices to capture information, a network of external data sources,  servers to host the data, a platform to analyse it, and expert management to ensure that all this technology is stable and secure. The approach needs to be global: an end-to-end ecosystem that extends from data capture to transmitting relevant information to users, whether via dashboards for city officials or mobile apps for citizens.

J. S.: Beyond the technology, a city will only be smart if the system is designed and used intelligently. You have to start with the end user and then choose the most suitable type of data stream, of network – wireless, 5G, fibre optics, copper broadband – of data management and so on. This type of comprehensive solution is exactly what SPIE offers. We are not just technicians. We share our knowledge with customers to show them what is possible. We can then be the architect of the system they need, working with our partners and suppliers to deliver it, maintain it and safeguard it, as well as help our clients get the best out of it.

Can you give examples of SPIE’s latest smart city solutions?

J. S.: Over the last two years, several city governments have approached us for help in a variety of areas. One example is telemedicine: SPIE has helped cities by installing equipment in homes and doctors’ offices to allow teleconferencing between practitioners and patients along with tools for checking temperature, blood pressure, and other diagnostics. As the Covid-19 pandemic has made strikingly clear, the ability to consult remotely with health professionals is vital when the patient cannot be physically present. Smart city technology is also essential for contact-tracing applications or for sending health alerts.

C. B.: In France, SPIE ICS has developed an IoT1 platform that serves as the core of the smart city’s information system, correlating and modelling data from net-works and sensors deployed according to the customer’s needs. To implement these solutions, we work closely with SPIE CityNetworks, drawing on their knowledge on the ground and their technical expertise. We’re seeing that the two top priorities for cities today are energy efficiency and the environment. In 2018, we started rolling out a smart city project in Bordeaux with a smart lighting solution that optimises energy by activating lights only when necessary. A second solution focuses on streamlining the city’s waste collection and management. SPIE has the tools and expertise to help cities digitalise and be ready for the  challenges of the future.