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Cities need cloud to be 'truly smart'

Cities need cloud to be 'truly smart'

Data is at the core of successful smart city innovation, according to new research from Oracle and economic and urban research consultancy ESI ThoughtLab, a collaboration between several companies including Nokia, Cognizant, Eaton Lighting, JLL, Microsoft, NTT, Pennoni, Stantec, Visa, Deloitte and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

The companies have announced the findings of The Building a Hyperconnected City study, which surveyed 100 cities across the US, APAC, EMEA and LATAM, and found that cities are drowning in data from advancements such as Internet of Things (IOT).

The survey projected that there will be more than 30 billion connected devices generating data by 2020.

It added that for cities to become truly 'smart', they must have a cloud infrastructure in place to extract, integrate, and analyse this data to glean the insights needed to enhance everything from citizen services to building projects.

According to the study, the average return on investments in hyper-connected initiatives ranges from 3% - 4%.

"As cities become more interlinked, their ROI grows: cities just starting out realise a return of 1.8% for implementers and 2.6% for advancers, while hyper-connected leaders see a 5.0% boost. That can translate into enormous returns ranging from US$19.6-million for implementers to US$40.0-million for advancers and US$83-million for hyper-connected leaders," according to the companies.

Oracle and ESI ThoughtLab have underlined other key findings from the study, including:

· AI, Blockchain and biometrics are increasingly pervasive: Cities are using these technologies in key urban areas, such as IT infrastructure and telecoms, mobility and transportation, payment and financial systems, and physical and digital security. City leaders need the right technology platforms and applications to implement and leverage these tools and capabilities.

· Cybersecurity requires careful planning and is expensive when not implemented properly: The study revealed that half of the 100 city leaders surveyed do not feel adequately prepared for cyberattacks.

· Smart initiatives are bolstering constituent satisfaction: While physical and digital security top the list of priorities, citizen engagement and satisfaction have risen as a top five goal. 33% of innovative leaders in North America have appointed Chief Citizen Experience Officers.

Susan O'Connor, global director for Smart Cities, Oracle, said, "The public sector, particularly at local level, is dealing with seismic technological, demographic and environmental shifts. Data is the rocket fuel for this transformation, and progressive cities are turning to cloud, data platforms, mobile applications and IoT as a way to scale and prepare for the future. In contrast, not taking advantage of emerging technologies such as AI, Blockchain or virtual and augmented reality comes at a cost. Cities of the future need strategic, long-term investments in cloud data architecture, along with the right expertise to guide them through."

Statistics sourced from the IDC suggests that local spending on public cloud services will nearly triple over the next five years, from R4.29-billion in 2017 to R11.53-billion in 2022.

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