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Summary

As cities look to embrace smart city solutions coupled with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, it is essential that they consider the implications of joining up systems. The UK government’s answer to this is the HyperCatCity (HCC) initiative, which may signal the way forward for governments in ensuring the interoperability of vendor solutions and limit the creation of data silos.

Standards increasingly matter in ensuring a thriving smart cities market

The UK government’s HyperCat standard is aimed at overcoming interoperability issues between vendors of IoT services by making it easier to share data between cities and third parties. The government is now pushing the adoption of HyperCat through the HCC initiative in smart city projects that are utilizing IoT technologies, encouraging the development of open interfaces and data formats to eliminate the potential for vendor lock-in.

The smart cities market is still developing, so its focus is still driven by specific cities or services rather than multiple locations or services. Geographic location is no barrier to adoption – cities face many of the same problems, after all – but what differs is the severity of a problem, which tends to be driven by a wider set of underlying factors. Cities therefore adopt individual approaches, leading them to procure point-to-point solutions. However, as systems are rolled out and the number of devices wired to a network increases, integration and data sharing becomes increasingly important.

Technology standards are essential, and, as history has demonstrated, they help to ease the wheels of the global economy. As the market for smart city services matures, standards will become increasingly important, especially around resilience, security, interoperability, and scalability. To date, vendors have adopted proprietary standards: the likes of Cisco, Google, and Samsung have already announced their own approaches. However, customers do not like standards wars; nobody wants to be stuck with the loser and have to pay out every time they want to integrate a new system or service. With funding in short supply and cities increasingly thinking about how to tie together current and future investments, they will be looking at the developing plethora of standards with some concern. HCC goes some way to addressing this concern.

Appendix

Further reading

Security Implications of the Internet of Things, IT0022-000277 (December 2014)

“Q&A: Internet of Things 2015 Outlook,” TE0019-00002 (January 2015)

Author

Chris Pennell, Practice Lead, Public Sector

Chris.pennell@ovum.com

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