The game is on to link up networks of billions of distributed sensors, systems, and intelligence across urban environments via city-scale operating systems. (How else would a smart city be smart?).
The BBC recently reported about an operating system for cities that looks just like a PC operating system but keeps buildings, traffic and services running smoothly. Developed by Living PlanIT, the Urban OS channels all the data coming from sensors and services into an over-arching control system.
Its purpose is to intelligently monitor and automate traffic lights, air conditioning, water pumps, and other systems that influence the quality of urban life while driving down the costs of operating a city.
The underlying technology of the Urban OS is based on software created by McLaren Electronic Systems, the same company that creates sensors for Formula One cars. Living PlanIT is partnering with IT vendors such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Deutsche Telekom on various pieces of the operating system.
Said Steve Lewis, the head of Living PlanIT:
"If you were using an anatomy analogy, the city has a network like the nervous system, talking to a whole bunch of sensors gathering the data and causing actions. We distribute that nervous system into the parts of the body - the buildings, the streets and other things."
If the vision sounds lofty, consider this: the investment in smart city technology is projected to total $108 billion between 2010 and 2020, according to a new research report from Pike Research. That figure includes information and communications infrastructure, all which will require adequate monitoring and management.