Engineering a Better World – Smart Society
Challenges when building a Hyber-Connected City –
a Swedish perspective
Ann Louise Johansson, GM, Qamcom Research and Technology AB, Sweden
The City of Stockholm has the ambition to become the smartest city in the world 2040 and be a sustainable and including society. For the City of Stockholm this means creating a smart and connected city which uses digitalization and new technology to make life simpler and better for citizens, businesses and visitors.
There are many challenges when building a hyper-connected city using new and advanced technology for customized applications and combining different kinds of data over multiple platforms on top of a very complex infrastructure. ESI Thoughtlab has in a report from 2020 identified and listed the main challenges in order of importance as:
- Gaining support of citizens and other stakeholders
- Making sure the speed of development keeps up with business and citizen needs
- Complexity of procurement
- Keeping pace with technological change
- Policy and regulatory barriers
- Managing cybersecurity/data privacy
On the maturity classification of ESI Thoughtlab, Stockholm is an “Advancer.” Hence, Stockholm is not yet seen as a Leader. Though the identified top two global challenges when building a hyper-connected city are not the main issues for Stockholm. In those areas Stockholm has come quite far. Here the issues and focus may be a bit different.
In the process of developing Stockholm, several programs to further digitalize and connect the city are ongoing. These are based on the following enabling principles:
- Common digital platforms
- Data exchange through central platforms
- Open standards
- Modular solutions
- Agreements enables development and innovation
- Security and privacy are guaranteed
- Data availability both internally and as open data externally
These enablers are important factors when building the hyper-connected city and a lot of focus is aimed towards avoiding the limitations experienced from being locked into technology and solutions that are not scalable, possible to develop further and that openness is the basis for both internal and external innovation over time.
Qamcom is involved in the program related to smart traffic control, where we are developing and demonstrating a multi-function sensor system, and during this work we have observed issues that impacts the progress of the development of the hyper-connected city but also other aspects that initially may slow down the process but will have a long term positive impact.
From an external view there are two things that is having and can have a major impact on the progress if not solved. Those are:
- Procurement processes that are not adapted for fast innovation
- Policies and regulations are interpreted extremely conservative to protect privacy and not in line with the use of new technology, e.g.
- Hard to get camera permits and usage of data is extremely restricted
- Regulations limiting data usage slows down the development of new solutions
These are clearly general issues faced in Sweden that we need to solve to not fall behind the rest of the world.
On the other hand, Stockholm has a focus on sustainability and the understanding that building industrial AI systems require strong domain knowledge in how to build and implement sensor-based systems on the edge and connect it to the cloud.
- Building multi-function systems to avoid a forest of sensors in the city where each feature has its own sensor and system
- Building scalable, industrial AI systems that can be adapted and improved over time with e.g. additional sensors and features.
Trying to at least partly solve the above points before getting started with this area of the hyper-connected city will make the initial start slower, but that time may be recovered later and further progress faster while at the same time the city will be a nicer place for everybody to visit, live and work in. It is not until 2040 that the City of Stockholm is aiming to be the smartest city in the world.
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