Dr. Vasos Vassiliou on the rise of Smart CitiesĀ 

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10 May. 2021
CYENS Centre of Excellence

An Interview with Dr. Vasos Vassiliou, Smart Networked Systems Research Group Leader on the concept of Smart Cities and their benefit on businesses.

What are the main characteristics and advantages of a “Smart City”?

A smart city is one that uses technologies to improve and transform the lives of its citizens and the environment, while closing the digital divide and allowing businesses to thrive and innovate. It is an idea of inclusion rather than division, a collaboration between citizens, and the public and private sectors for sustainable transformation and growth.

Urban centres have always been the heart of economic and technological revolution and progression. According to a World Bank study analyzing 750 cities around the world between 2005 and 2012, a competitive city facilitates its companies and industries to grow jobs, raise productivity, increase incomes of citizens and drive prosperity.

There are two critical technologies at the source of smart cities:

  • Internet of Things (IoT): A computing concept that describes the idea of everyday physical objects being connected to the internet and being able to identify themselves to other devices.
  • Big Data: Extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.

With IoT and Big Data at the source, a smart city has the potential of making our daily lives easier by creating greater efficiencies in the environment around us.

How can companies and businesses in general benefit from the functions of a Smart City?

Businesses will benefit in numerous ways, seeing greater efficiency in their operations, protection of investments and better service to customers. For instance, improved traffic management will yield improved delivery times for logistics firms and online retailers, whilst smart lighting may improve footfall in certain areas, boosting sales in local shops and restaurants. Meanwhile, improved connectivity will be a boon for almost all businesses and their staff, boosting overall efficiency. Data — on everything from pedestrian patterns and traffic to crime, school performance, and energy use — and the ability to use data effectively will become a source of innovation, with businesses using this information to fine-tune their competitive advantage.

How are Smart Cities expected to shift value for companies and businesses?

Businesses need smart cities: Aside from the benefits discussed – more data, increased collaboration, access to talent and a better chance of successful transformation – without the cities that occupy them, businesses would fold. The rate of urbanisation means that governments, citizens and businesses need to embrace smart solutions to cope with the increasing pressure and competition of an urban world.   Ultimately, businesses and citizens need smart cities to survive and thrive.

How can companies and businesses best prepare for the evolution to Smart Cities?

Having a business that plays a role in these technologies is growing more lucrative, as global spending on smart cities is expected to surpass 50Billion dollars within the decade. The environment is changing, and no matter the sector, all companies need to take a step back and reflect upon how they can adapt their current offerings to a shifting urban landscape.
Correctly recognizing why and how a Smart City near you is evolving helps in defining the correct business or aligning your business drivers with the city’s. From the city’s point of view, these business drivers should reflect the focus on the particular aspects of life a city wants to enhance to make its citizens happier, for example: healthier, safer, more educated, etc.

What is the role of CYENS in the effort here in Nicosia, Cyprus, and how can this benefit local businesses?

It used to be that “serving a city” meant selling a product or service directly to city governments. But now the range of possibilities has gotten bigger, and B2C or even B2G2C business models are growing more common. At the same time, the expectations of municipal governments and of urban residents themselves have gotten higher.

This raises the bar for how companies conduct public interactions. Companies have to understand the complexities of each city’s context intimately, including how the local government makes decisions and what the regulatory landscape looks like. They also need to engage thoughtfully with city leaders over the longer term about how to meet their city’s needs. Most companies lack these types of capabilities in their existing development and sales teams, so they may need to add urban planners, sociologists, designers, and other specialists to broaden their thinking.

As a human-centric research center, CYENS employs a diverse set of people, including HCI experts, design thinking experts, architects and urban planners to game designers and traditional engineers. CYENS is directly involved with the Municipality of Nicosia in fine-tuning the smart city project, currently under way. It also has the role of the Data Manager/Broker, in the sense that it will act as the representative of the Municipality in operating the Control Center and managing the access to the data created by the city. As an extension of that activity, CYENS is envisioning the creation of the Nicosia Living Lab, currently named iNicosia.

The Living Lab will act as a simulator of actual city infrastructure equipment, hardware and software and it will allow businesses to test and adapt their programs on the local smart city solutions, in a “sandbox” environment. It will also become a regional smart city development center, where many IoT and related companies can visit and see demo solutions.

For more on Smart Cities and how your business can participate join Victor Younes and Dr Vasos Vassiliou on Wednesday May 12th at 6pm https://marketnewscy.com/diadiktyaki-syzitisi-exypnes-poleis-kai-efkairies-gia-tis-epicheiriseis-stin-kypro/.

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