Exploring Urban IoT solutions
Cities and towns looking to deploy internet of things solutions need guidance, clear best practice and effective use cases. Future Cities Catapult has worked with Imperial College London to produce this technical annex, informing purchase managers and decision makers on the best choices for their urban IoT solutions.
Increasing demand for urban services requires more effective responses at lower cost. IoT technology offers new opportunities for UK councils to become ‘smarter’ and more flexible in responding to their citizens’ needs, making the most of limited municipal budgets.
More intelligent and (inter) connected urban infrastructure provides residents with a plethora of positive social and economic benefits. By embracing the potential of IoT, local authorities can improve service delivery, increase sustainability, and make their cities safer and more liveable places for their residents. In short, urban IoT technologies have the potential to create a revolution in city planning and management.
Future Cities Catapult commissioned consultants Vivid Economics who, together with Imperial College London, have developed an IoT technical guidance document targeted at decision makers, purchase managers and others appraising projects which incorporate an IoT solution in UK cities. The guidance is structured around common scenarios faced by this target group, ranging from being approached by a business offering an IoT solution and wanting to better understand their offer to having heard about a successful IoT solution implemented elsewhere and wanting to evaluate whether this can be replicated. The guidance helps readers to recognise opportunities and common challenges in the specification, procurement and management of urban IoT technologies. Concrete case studies of urban IoT solutions in the UK are used to illustrate the main messages.
The authors find that the process for an IoT project generally follows five steps, as shown below. Each step lays out a set of key questions, including “What service is required?” and “What data permissions might be required and what confidence do we have that these are achievable?”, together with key actions. All findings are based on interviews with UK local authorities and illustrated with case studies and experiences from real life urban IoT projects.
While many IoT projects are promising and fascinating, the interviews and workshops have shown that local authorities often find it difficult to decide if an IoT project has a strong public funding case. The guidance proposes a framework to evaluate whether an IoT project is suitable for public funding, based on an assessment of the reliability and nature of the expected benefits.
The guidance is accompanied by a more detailed evidence review of IoT applications in health, energy and transport implemented in cities in the UK and globally, and an assessment of the technical aspects involved in implementing successful IoT solutions. The guidance also highlights common pitfalls and suggests how to mitigate them. As a quick take-away, a 2-page checklist of key issues to consider for urban IoT projects, which can be found on pages 59-60, will be a useful practical resource.