Machina Research’s white paper explores implications and challenges of ‘open-ness’ to connectivity

Cities are increasingly aware of the benefits of an ‘open’ approach to becoming ‘Smart’. So says a new white paper from the UK-based IoT research firm, Machina Research.

It is already recognised that being locked in to an integrated solution from a single vendor is ‘sub-optimal’. However, there is insufficient clarity on the full implications of and challenges of ‘open-ness’, in terms of connectivity, interfaces between applications and city verticals, standards and procurement.

Machina Research’s White Paper explores this and argues that an open eco-system that develops independently but integrates seamlessly at a higher level, is key to unlocking increasing value over time from different verticals and applications.

The report explains that while in a mature, stable industry environment, formal standards are the trusted method for ensuring interoperability between different vendors’ offerings, in an evolving environment where innovation is rapid and the technology is still being developed, open-ness is best delivered via interfaces. Smart cities are very much in this evolving stage. Business models, interconnection methodologies, sensor and connectivity technologies are all in a process of rapid change.

As it is not clear which models of interoperability will emerge between cities, applications systems and providers, what is required from an open system is the ability to inter-operate with others via defined interfaces. This is the case both with respect to existing systems and applications and future ones.

The proposed recommendations are:

  • Inter-operability should be a guiding principle in every project and every stage
  • Forward compatibility with future decisions about inter-operability is more important than a once-and-for all platform choice. In the early deployments of smart city applications, as municipalities test the waters, it is best to focus on deploying specific vertical applications, e.g. street lighting, refuse collection or parking, rather than trying to implement overarching city platforms
  • Cities need to stay flexible and prepare for a future based on open standards and APIs. During the current stage of smart city development, the key to remaining flexible is implementing open systems that enable interoperability via interfaces
  • Choosing open and recognised standards is a crucial element that is required to ensure open and durable systems and infrastructure. Where no recognised standard exists yet, the ability to work via APIs is key to guaranteeing openness

To download the full report click here.

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