The world is changing more quickly and in more complex ways than perhaps ever before. Cities are facing dramatic social, economic and environmental challenges and people are moving into cities in volume to find new opportunities. To keep pace, cities are seeking more efficient ways to manage infrastructure and processes and offer citizen services, often on lean budgets.

New ways of thinking are required to help cities adopt new technology solutions that, by definition, disrupt the status quo. These alternative approaches will need to break down silos between city agencies, to gather and share a tidal wave of data about operations, infrastructure and people. And what good are all these without an atmosphere of social inclusion—to attract and retain a vital, productive citizenry and drive economic health and job creation?

Cities are not powerless in the face of these pressures. Among city leaders’ greatest allies is networking technology. As other costs soar, the cost of network connectivity – processing power, speeds, data storage and bandwidth – continues to fall. Meanwhile, social mobility and the cloud are making it easier to connect on the go. The network is emerging as the logical platform on which to architect solutions to address the many goals and responsibilities of cities today and change the way they will continue to grow and thrive.

Helping Cities Envision the New Global Urban Services Industry

The vision for smart cities offered by Cisco is of an integrated urban information and communication technology (ICT) overlay that can support delivery of connected urban services, and allow for efficient management of those services on a global scale. Cisco helps cities gather, share, understand and act on data from and with other agencies, city residents and visitors, and with business and social organisations. By leveraging the Internet of Everything (IoE), cities can integrate people, processes and data to create safe places to live, work, learn and play.

Partnering for Innovation and Success

Cisco networking and cloud computing capabilitiesCisco’s engagement in smart-city issues is championed by the Smart+Connected Communities (S+CC) initiative under the Cisco Industry Solutions group. Working closely with the Internet of Things group, the Services Platform Group and other departments within Cisco, S+CC is developing a growing portfolio of city-oriented solutions.

But no company can do this alone. While these solutions are based on Cisco networking and cloud computing capabilities, they also incorporate a host of specialised applications developed by or with key partners in the S+CC ecosystem. These applications leverage the partners’ specific areas of experience and domain expertise, resulting in solutions that are finely tuned to address key challenges faced by cities today. Cisco engages with both global and local partners to extend its expertise into areas such as analytics in public safety and traffic management, city-wide wired and wireless networked Internet access, smart parking, smart lighting with multi-service nodes, integrated operations centres, location-based information, remote access to government agency services, and a host of other urban services.

Cisco is Addressing Complex Challenges Worldwide

Cisco city solution Denmark bikesCisco has deployed solutions in many cities worldwide – some 120 deployments of varying sizes. Lighthouse cities – those with multiple solutions deployed – include Barcelona in Spain, Chicago and Dallas in the U.S., Copenhagen in Denmark, Hamburg in Germany, Dubai in the UAE and a number of others. Solutions deployed in these cities include: City Wi-Fi, City Parking, City Traffic, City Lighting, City Operations Center and City Safety and Security.

Some of these cities also extend connectivity to buses and bus shelters, to smart rubbish bins to reduce waste management costs, and to other sensing apparatus to monitor and manage their water systems. The connection of mobile devices to a City Wi-Fi network also allows location-based information to be distributed and captured between citizens, city agencies and businesses.