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The Smart City is Open The Smart City is Open
Contributed by: Vivek Jain

The Smart City is Open: the role of open systems as a key enabler of the smart city

Cities are increasingly aware of the benefits of an ‘open’ approach to becoming ‘Smart’. It is already recognized 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.