U.S. and India Enter Partnership for Smart City Development

Soon after the calendar flipped to 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama ventured to India to speak with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about a number of economic issues. One of the results of that meeting was a newly formed partnership between the two countries and a pledge from the U.S. to help India develop three smart cities in Allahabad, Ajmer and Vishakhapatnam.

The goal now is for the two sides to create a roadmap for the development of such cities over the next three months after which time the project can begin in earnest. The new joint venture will also be a step toward Modi's ambitious goal of developing 100 smart cities across his country.

"It is now time for both the sides to walk the talk by acting quick and concretizing the agreements reached," Modi said during the press conference where the announcement was made.

Although India's commitment is substantial to developing cities that improve quality of life by utilizing Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, devices and applications, other countries are looking to create more connected urban areas as well. Put another way, smart cities are in the process of moving from science fiction to everyday reality, evidenced by Research and Markets' recent projection that the smart city market would expand from $411 billion in 2014 to 1.134 trillion by 2019. The myriad ways intelligent cities can improve quality of life are driving this growth. They include:

  • Smart parking: Using a mobile application, city residents can get directions to available parking spaces in the vicinity of their destination. In addition to making urban parking easier for the driver, getting that motorist to his or her destination helps ease congestion.
  • Optimized traffic lights: IoT solutions that are deployed in smart cities can also reduce traffic by using sensors to detect vehicles and then manipulating the light accordingly. For instance, if a car is approaching a four-way intersection with no other cars in sight, the light could be programmed to give that car a green light right away rather than relying on a simple timer.
  • Digital wayfinding in government buildings and hospitals: Large buildings with multiple wings can be extremely difficult to navigate for those unfamiliar with the layout. Digital wayfinding can map a clear path on a monitor that guides the visitor to the desired location.
  • Smart metering: Smart meters allow for more accurate energy readings and increased energy efficiency by taking human error out of the equation.
  • Intelligent lighting: With connected citywide lighting, a government can provide better lighting at night in dangerous areas and closely monitor energy consumption level as well to reduce wasted resources.

As countries across the globe look to make their cities smarter with IoT solutions, it will be important for them to have access to various network protocols so that each connection generates as much value as possible. For instance, smart lighting around the city will likely need to be connected using cellular. Short-range devices like smart meters, on the other hand, can be connected using less expensive low power radio (Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee, Zwave...).

For cities, trying to find a way to access and manage all of these network protocols on a single pane of glass can be nearly impossible. But there are companies offering connectivity enablement solutions and IoT platforms that make it possible for governments to manage all of their connections in one place, making it easier to pair the right network protocol-whether it's satellite, cellular or low power radio) with the right device. And when connectivity is not a problem, building smart cities won't be one either.

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