Nokia announces smart cities framework

Nokia's smart cities framework is focused on the collection, sharing, and usage of data to personalise cities with a top-down approach led by the federal government and implemented by the states and territories.

Nokia has developed a framework to enable the implementation of smart cities by governments, saying more emphasis needs to be put on developing an overarching strategy rather than small projects.

Nokia's framework, published on Tuesday in Nokia's A new world of cities and the future of Australia report, is designed to aid regions in designing and procuring services for smart city concepts.

According to Nokia, while the Australian government has announced its intention to build smart cities, there are "major gaps" in how it is going about doing so.

Cities are currently not equipped for the digital future, Nokia Oceania CTO Warren Lemmens told ZDNet in an interview, and are being left to solve the problem by themselves, such as in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Instead, Nokia is suggesting a state and territory government-level approach, working in conjunction with an overarching federal government program so that the cities themselves can concentrate on their specific needs.

Nokia's new six-point framework -- again under a horizontal approach -- involves instituting one single City Digital Platform for all cities; formulating a new federal program for innovation focusing on data; founding smart cities-focused collaborative approaches between government, businesses, academia, and startups; facilitating public-private partnerships for innovation on smart cities; eliminating the current proclivity to separate device, data, and application environments; and ensuring the personalisation of each city under the program.

Until now, cities have been focused on achieving a few small projects within their infrastructure such as smart bins and smart parking, rather than on implementing a city-wide program, according to Lemmens.

According to Nokia, Australia needs to depart from this vertical approach, wherein industries drive the smart city projects towards a horizontal approach spearheaded by government.

"The risk at the moment is that that discussion around smart parking and smart waste bins becomes the basis on which we evolve cities nationally, and misses the point that really the future of cities is vested in cities having 360-degree visibility of their total operation so that they can form relationships with people who use the city, the businesses that are in the city," Lemmens told ZDNet.

"A digital fabric of a city is essential for the future of the city, as opposed to just a series of incidental projects."

While Australia is ahead on such incidental projects, such as in the mining and agricultural sectors, this is contrasted with how far it lags in embracing fully smart cities and overall enabling a digital economy.

"If you don't recognise what's happening with technology ... that's leading to different levels of competition and more disruption; if you're not on that trajectory -- and that's where Australia is -- you're not quite in the mindset that technology is driving our global competitiveness," Lemmens said.

"And we're not quite there. Cities is just a classic example."

All cities, whether they are in metro, rural, or regional areas, have the same sets of issues facing them when adopting a smart city approach, Lemmens said, which leads to how they can embrace the digital economy.

The primary discussion on smart cities needs to be about data, according to Nokia: The breaking down of siloes to leverage data in order to collect it and share it between government and business, and using it to improve personalisation by discovering through data the way in which businesses and citizens use the city.

"We need to open this discussion about a data marketplace, and brokering data ... that discussion is really in its infancy in Australia," Lemmens argued.

Each city needs a "control centre" in order to collect and utilise this data to drive this personalisation, Nokia said.

An operations environment -- made up of the three separate layers of application operations, service operations, and infrastructure operations, with security "straddling all the layers" -- should then be used in conjunction with this control centre, Lemmens said.

"So you use this operations framework leveraging its city digital platform to create your relationship with people in their daily lives, or businesses in the way that they use the city, and there's a very big trend around personalisation," he said.

Nokia is itself "investing substantially" in IoT platforms and systems while driving their uptake across government.

"The networks themselves are becoming software built, and the demands on the networks are becoming data driven. So we need this model of investment in ecosystems and raw technologies, and that's what Nokia's doing," Lemmens told ZDNet.

Nokia spent last week spruiking its framework and smart cities vision to Australian government departments and ministers in Canberra, hoping to drive a more "sophisticated" conversation around the digital economy.

"We haven't had a discussion enough probably in Australia about the value of the digital economy," Lemmens said.

"Let's have that discussion, because it's not just about ... solving yesterday's problems, it's about taking leadership.

"This is not trivial; it's a massive, competitive, national competitive issue about jobs, about living standards, and we can see that we need to do something in Australia to help change that discussion and make it more sophisticated."

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