Smart City technology trends: part 3

Smart Cities: technology trends (Part 3)

Recently I’ve been asked to write a technology trends paper for the IEEE looking at the main technology trends affecting Smart Cities. This is a broad topic, covering a lot of ground and I’ve been forced to pick a subset of technology trends that are affecting the evolution of smart cities. I’ve broken the topic into manageable sections – each a single blog post – as follows:

  • PART 1
    • Smart cities: background and technology ecosystem
    • Key technology areas #1
      • Networking,
      • Cyber-physical systems and the IoT,
      • Cloud and Edge computing
  • PART 2
    • Key technology areas #2
      • Big Data,
      • Open Data,
      • Citizen Engagement
      • Smart City Standards
  • PART 3 (This post)
    • Smart Cities: Impact of technology trends
      • Business issues
      • Recommendations

Smart Cities: An overview of the technology trends driving Smart Cities (Part 3)

Business aspects

Although this trend paper focuses on technological trends, as outlined in the introduction, Smart Cities are complex ecosystems that cut across technological, social, organizational and business domains. Understanding the role-out of technologies and their relative importance in the ecosystem requires an understanding of the business drivers that affect their deployment and uptake and an overview of the Smart City marketplace.

Increased urbanization, the development and growth of newer cities, along with the natural renewal of infrastructure in established cities, means that the Smart City marketplace is both large and growing. While the scope and size of the market is difficult to accurately quantify, and estimates vary, all place the size of the market in the $300-700 billion range. For example, a market scoping [1] by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry, suggests “We estimate the global market for smart city solutions and the additional services required to deploy them to be $408 billion by 2020. Breaking this down by vertical, in transport for example, Pike Research estimates a global market for smart transport solutions based on digital infrastructure to be $4.5 billion by 2018. These solutions are enabling solutions for a wider market of $100 billion by 2018 which includes the physical and digital infrastructure for parking management and guidance, smart ticketing and traffic management. Also included in this $100 billion are the traditional and new services such as heavy engineering, road design and big data analytics which are required as a result of investment in digital smart transport solutions. “

Similarly a report by Frost & Sullivan[2] breaks down the total spend into market segments, identifying Governance & Education, Healthcare and Energy as three of the largest business opportunities.

Trends and recommendations

This report has highlighted a number of technologies whose evolution and deployment is contributing to the growth of Smart Cities. Some high level observations:

  • Focus on point solutions: While many major cities are aware of, and to some extent pursuing smart city strategies, it is clear that at the moment most Smart City deployments are focused on specific infrastructure needs. For example reducing water loss by upgrading ageing pipe infrastructure, or improving transportation efficiency through monitoring. Companies need to focus on these types of projects and look for incremental ways to connect individual systems (silos) to provide aggregate efficiencies and support new services.
  • Instrumentation and actuation from IoT: As sensors/actuators are being replaced in the system, an increasing percentage of city infrastructure is becoming IoT connected. Cities that are recognizing this and putting in place middleware and cloud systems to capture and use this data will see significant advantages over time.
  • Value from analytics: Today few cities gather and analyze city data in a comprehensive way. Some lead examples do exist but most cities are still developing these capabilities. Both government and industry need to adopt big data strategies as part of their core framework, building from a cloud centric perspective solutions that incorporate data analytics as core capabilities. The growth of this area is likely to rapidly increase over the next decade with significant investment by cities in analytic capabilities.
  • Different regions have different needs. It is clear that the needs of a Smart City in India are different than those in Europe – different regions are grappling with different problems and so will need different solutions. However, the underlying technology trends do not differ and so the problem becomes the most appropriate application of a technology to meet a city’s needs. Companies that are able to adopt a flexible approach to delivering solution will reap benefits.
  • Collaboration is critical. Few, if any companies can deliver a full Smart City solution. Therefore companies need to identify their role in the Smart City solution ecosystem and work to develop partnerships that allow them to collectively offer solutions to cities. Major players will be able to use M&A activity to plug capability gaps.
  • Citizen engagement and activism are shaping the thinking of cities. Companies that can tap into this, and can show how their approaches and solution benefit from Citizen Engagement will accrue advantage through differentiation. Cities that develop comprehensive citizen engagement strategies will also benefit from citizens that are franchised as well as the collective wisdom of the community.


IEEE Smart Cities initiative

There has been a significant activity by IEEE to promote Smart Cities and to engage cities in using technologies to develop new services. Examples are Core Cities of Guadalajara in México, Trento in Italy, Wuxi in China, Casablanca in Morocco , Kansas City in US.
Additionally this initiative organized the first two international Conferences on Smart Cities successfully implemented in Guadalajara México 2015 and Trento Italy 2016, being planned the third edition for Wuxi China in 2017.
IEEE Industry activity

A portal of IEEE resources targeted at industry and practitioners including content on Professional development, standards and emerging technologies and trends.

BSI Smart Cities

A set of standards focused resources from the British Standards Institute that focus on the Smart City domain.


  • [1]
  • [2]

Smart City Standards: An overview

Making sense of Smart City standardization activities

Update: For a fuller discussion of Smart City technologies, including standards, read Smart City Technology Trends

Last year I was asked to write an article on Smart City standards for the IEEE standards magazine. This blog post was the basis for that article, but also acts as an evolving document as I update it to reflect standards activities.

First step – get some sort of framework to understand where different standards fit

The amount of activity in Smart City standardization is truly overwhelming – this is partly due to the breadth and scope of Smart City activities – from water pipes to people – and partly because it is early in the process and the standards bodies are still trying to understand how best to contribute.

After spending several days drowning in standards, I decided to step back and try and find a way of categorizing the different standards. I came across a useful framework from the UK’s standards body, the British Standards Institute (BSI), which is part of an excellent (and free) report they’ve written on Smart Cities (PD 8100 Smart city overview)

The Framework categorizes standards into 3 main levels, Strategic, Process and Technical

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Levels of Smart City standards (Copyright BSI 2015)
  • Level 1: Strategic: These are smart city standards that aim to provide guidance to city leadership and other bodies on the “process of developing a clear and effective overall smart city strategy”. They include guidance in identifying priorities, how to develop a roadmap for implementation and how to effectively monitor and evaluate progress along the roadmap.
  • Level 2: Process: Standards in this category are focused on procuring and managing smart city projects – in particular those that cross both organizations and sectors. These essentially offer best practices and associated guidelines.
  • Level 3Technical: This level covers the myriad technical specifications that are needed to actually implement Smart City products and services so that they meet the overall objectives

As the BSI state: “Strategic-level standards are of most relevance to city leadership and process-level standards to people in management posts. However, even technical specifications are relevant to people in management posts as they need to know which standards they need to refer to when procuring technical products and services.”

Using the Framework to position and group standards activities

Once we have a usable framework, the process of trying to fit standards into the levels can begin. The BSI folks have made a useful start – highlighting a number of ongoing international activities that they, as the UK’s standards body, collaborate on – and placing them in the framework.

The main international bodies are:

  • ISO: International Organization for Standards . The main global body that national standards bodies work with and with which many of us are familiar with via “ISO certified”
  • CEN/CENELEC/ETSI: In Europe, standards are developed and agreed by the three officially recognized European Standardization Organisations: the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
  • ITU: ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs
  • IEC: Founded in 1906, the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) is the world’s leading organization for the preparation and publication of International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. These are known collectively as “electrotechnology”.
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Placing major worldwide standards activities in BSI framework (Copyright BSI 2015)

It’s still a fairly daunting set of activities, but at least we now have a sense of where the major international standards groups are focused and we can begin to take a look at some of the more important activities. In the next section, I highlight a few activities that I’ve come across that I think are important and seem to have significant momentum. If you are looking for a more comprehensive list, then in the final section, I’ve listed up all the activities I’ve come across.

Note, most actual standards documents are expensive – unless you are a member of the standards body – so a casual browse isn’t an option. I’ve linked to official documents and summaries below and if I’ve come across a publicly accessible overview, I’ve added that – if you know of better public information, let me know.

If you are working on Smart Cities today – here’s some standards activities you should at least be aware of

  • ISO 37120 Sustainable development of communities — Indicators for city services and quality of life. This standard, part of a suite by ISO’s Technical Committee 268  identifies 100 indicators that cities should track to allow them to benchmark progress. Actually there are 17 areas, 46 core and 54 supporting indicators that cities either “shall” (core) or “should” (supporting) track and report. The World Council on City Data (WCCD) has been set up by cities to benchmark cities and has certified 17 global cities. Worth taking a look.
  • From the BSI, BS 8904 has a focus on sustainable communities and “provides a framework as recommendations and guidance that assist communities to improve. The recommendations and guidance are intended to be applied by communities of any size, structure and type.”
  • Two draft ISO standards also looking at sustainable communities are ISO 37101: Sustainable development & resilience of communities – Management systems – General principles & requirements  and ISO 37102: Sustainable development & resilience of communities – Vocabulary. An overview of this ongoing work is here
  • The development by the BIS of a Smart city framework standard (PAS 181) falls into the Process category: “It provides practical, ‘how-to’ advice, reflecting current good practice as identified by a broad range of public, private and voluntary sector practitioners engaged in facilitating UK smart cities”
  • The development of a Data concept model for smart cities (PAS 182). This is probably worth a look at if you are interested in data hubs and data interoperability issues as it bases some of its work on the UK’s HyperCat IoT interoperability standard.
  • Two technical standards that are still under development, (from the ISO/IEC JTC1 group) but worth tracking are ISO/IEC AWI 30145  Information technology – Smart city ICT reference framework and the associated ISO/IEC AWI 30146  Information technology – Smart city ICT indicators which are both looking at the ICT infrastructure needed for Smart Cities. Need a publicly available overview for these. Draft versions of these documents are available here
  • ISO: Report from JTC1 – looking at ICT for smart cities: A 2014 document that lays out the Smart City space from a technical point of view. There’s a useful diagram (fig 4) that highlights the technical areas that ISO, IEC and ITU are working on as well as details of their standards work and of the overall activities of JTC1 – great info but heavy going.
  • IEEE P2413 ( is a developing standard from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for an architectural framework for the Internet of Things (IoT). The standard is being designed, when completed, to offer a reference model defining relationships among various IoT verticals such as transportation and healthcare (the same verticals that are being transformed in the world’s transition to smart cities) and their common architecture elements.

It’s also worth taking a look at the full set of BSI standards for Smart Cities. Although these are national standards, the UK seems to have developed a comprehensive set of Smart City activities quite early and they appear to be feeding in to ongoing international organizations.

A somewhat more nascent effort by the US National Institute of Standards (NIST) can be found here – this seems to be more of a ‘call to action’ than actual NIST endorsed standards, but worth taking a look at if you are USA based.

A more comprehensive list of the standards activities in the various International groups

Don’t read any further if you are already feeling overwhelmed – but for those who care (or just like this stuff) here’s a more comprehensive list of standards I’ve come across – returning to the BSI framework:

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The BSI Framework for Smart City Standards activities (Copyright BSI 2015)

ISO activities

  • ISO 37120: Sustainable development & resilience of communities – Indicators for city services & quality of life
  • ISO/TR 37150: Smart community infrastructures – Review of existing activities relevant to metrics
  • ISO 37101: Sustainable development & resilience of communities – Management systems – General principles & requirements
  • ISO 37102: Sustainable development & resilience of communities – Vocabulary
  • ISO/TR 37121: Inventory & review of existing indicators on sustainable development & resilience in cities
  • ISO/TS 37151: Smart community infrastructure metrics – General principles & requirements 7.
  • ISO/TR 37152: Smart community infrastructures — Common framework for development & operation
  • A useful slide deck describing activities of ISO JTC1 – Working group on Smart Cities (WG 11) is here

IEC activities

  • IEC/SEG 1: Systems Evaluation Group on Smart Cities – Most of their activities seem to be working group reports, a list that reference ‘Smart Cities’ can be found here

ITU activities

  • ITU-T SG5 FG-SSC: Focus group on smart sustainable cities
    • SSC-0100-Rev 2: Smart Sustainable cities – Analysis of Definitions
    • SSC-0110: Technical Report on Standardization Activities and Gaps for SSC and suggestion to SG5, ITU-T
    • SSC 162: Key performance indicators (KPIs) definitions for smart sustainable cities

CEN-CENELE-ETSI (aka European) activities

Related Standards

While not directly related to Smart Cities, the following technical standards will play a part because they focus on constituent parts of the smart city:

  • General – IEEE has a document that lists up their standards that they think are related to Smart Cities – available here.
  • Security
    • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a preliminary discussion draft of its Framework for Cyber-Physical Systems. The draft has an ambitious goal: to create an integrated framework of standards that will form the blueprint for the creation of a massive interoperable network of cyber-physical systems (CPS), also known as the “Internet of Things.” In 2014, NIST established the cyber-physical systems public working group(CPS PWG)—an open public forum.


 You may be interested in my article on Technology Trends affecting Smart Cities which includes a discussion of Smart City Standards.

 This blog has been turned into an article for the IEEE standards online Magazine, read it here