RvK: The end of the 'smart city': Live from the Opening Speeches on Internet of Things China 2012, Shanghai:

28/06/2012 - 14:55

From Shanghai: Mr Wang Lie (CCPIT Shanghai) says ioT is a new era that will transform society and we need to embrace this new area. Mr Wang from Xi MITT relates that IoT is one of 7 emerging industries, and looks like a vibrant field. It needs strategic planning:

  • standardization: standards  need to be set, then followers will have higher starting point, and  Chinese bargaining power internationally will be stronger
  • technology innovation and dissemination: applications has not been fully exploited in terms of business models
  • demonstration projects need to be visible :  this will be crucial to raise  awareness in society

Eric Pelletier from the Canadian Consulate held a strong case for the connected car, showing the market potential and the potential Canadian IT lead in that field. Mr Fumihito Notomi from Japan stressed the need to strategically think about smart cities in Japan and China. Mr Jang Seok Yong (Korea) mentioned the importance of the prosumer, and focused on the Korean 7 smart services, among which NFC, 3D, M2M, Location based, smart tv, e commerce. Alex Bassi (IoT-A) showed how the gateway will become the key, therefore bypassing the debate if the object would become intelligent or all intelligence will be in the Cloud. Mr. Pankaj Sood (Auto-ID Cambridge Lab) spoke about IoT for Intelligent Transportation and distributed intelligence, collecting data not only in house but data from various sources with decision making more localized and the organizational problems that causes now.

In the afternoon one of the most visited seminar was about food traceability, one of the key focus points of IoT in China at the moment. Mr. Zhang Jianning highlighted the principle of proximity and showed the example of Ben Ratto's SF based Thumbs Up logo of Buy Fresh, buy local.

Saftop, IoT Platform for Intelligent Building, calls IoT a revolution in technology where endusers can create their own intelligence on demand, away from the centralized systems that only talk to the silos, and is hard to maintain. IoT is about teaching people how to fish, instead of giving them fish. At the physical layer the silos can talk to each other horizontally.

With IoT the sensors measuring water level will be connected to the pumps and will be able to act on that.

Three layers:

  • The first is that everything can be connected in the home and street. “Whenever I step on a doormat the door can open;” once the owner is recognized.
  • Secondly: sensors and actuators can accept requests from humans, so translating human- machine languages must be developed. Is privacy violated here? Not really, these ideas already go in the direction of the concept of 'privacies': once the user is recognized the policy is changed accordingly.
  • We also have a sharing concept; sensors can work together and be shared by different systems. It is a “multiple master system “where a lot of different nodes have control at any given moment.

The social significance of IoT is that it is a wonderful accumulation of ideas, dynamic energy saving  (automatic light saving in parking garages: lights on only as you drive in or out) and finally an upgrade of our industry.

The IoT platform is definitely in the middle in Saftop's view.

In the 'Special session on Planning Smart City of Japan' Mine Shinshoro, director of Jetro Shanghai Office, recalls the 2010 disaster and explains that in the reconstruction of the cities the Japanese government will use the concept of smart communities to stabilize the energy power sources. Mr Yu Hao, of Fujitsu research (shaping tomorrow with you), talks about their concept of a people centered and intelligent society. Their interpretation of smart society links the virtual and the physical world in a people centered way, bringing new value to the physical, very much relying on RFID as a major glue. Mr. Toshihiro Tamaki , from Mitsui, head of Kashiwanoha Campus City Project, (planned population of 26.000) a newly built smart city from a residential perspective, relates how the regeneration of areas is offering opportunities and challenges for downtown areas as well as influencing current newly built  ones. Mitsui aims to open more of such cities on the outskirts of current cities. Three principles or solutions frame this concept: to co-exist with the environment, to challenge ageing in a holistic way and to facilitate learning and innovation. But the Control Centers should not be the 'hero's' of these smart cities or communities. Do you want to live in a community controlled by IT? You say no, you don't want to live in a mechanized way. We want the people living in the city to lead a smart life. Ultimately it comes down to a way of living. The society and the infrastructure together create the smart community. In the modern era we know that people are becoming more indifferent towards each other.

  • Can IT enhance human – human communication​?
  • Incentivize is the new key. Demand control vs incentive.
  • Making energy consumption visible and provide feedback on this is one of these incentives.
  • AEMS is a smart decision making system that will see where energy is needed urgently in terms of crises, taking it away from areas where it is abundant.
  • An electric vehicles sharing system pilot (car, bike and motor ensemble) will be encouraged, allowing you to go to work by car and return by bike when the weather has changed for the better.

Mr Masaki Yokoi (Nomura Research) takes up in the same discourse in his talk The social platform of the smart city, especially focusing on the change in mentality after the earthquake. Prior to that “we thought IT was King” he asserts,  however after the East Tokyo earthquake, industry, government and citizens come up with a different mindset on what constitutes a smart city. As infrastructure was totally destroyed, communication between regions was out, huge amounts of data were lost, over the past six months Japanese experts have reflected and brainstormed on the new nature of ICT. It still has a major role to play, but it must be a new role, especially in setting up more flexible resilient infrastructure, the regeneration process of communities, changing the layout of public services in society as a whole and inconsistent power supply and a more coherent business ecosystem.

This is definitely the end of the instrumental 'smart city' concepts. The trend set here in Shanghai IOT 2012 is towards smart communities and wise societies.