Big Data, the Internet of Things, Open Data, M2M, Smart Cities… all these are concepts we hear talking about very often. They are areas, ideas, paradigms that overlap, support and need each other to be explained and gain sense.
The Smart City feeds from the Internet of Things, M2M, Open Data. Open Data from M2M, Big Data and serves the Smart City. Big Data should be mostly Open Data, since we search to a certain degree, Open Government (oops, another concept) and it also gathers data from the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things… This is the concept that is likely to cause the biggest revolution since the binary system and computers. The technology that will give a new dimension and an infinite development to all the remaining concepts (will the Big Data be called Big2Data?)
We know IPv6 from some time ago and it can allocate a unique name to any object, exactly to 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456. Fine, and you mean this is “easy”? Well it is a must too! Remember that naming is giving an identity (no more and no less), i.e., generate a new source of information from which we also know the origin.
Where’s the problem then? Why has not that digital revolution taken place? Step by step. The revolutions are quick, but the way until the necessary conditions are met can be slow, very slow.
We know where we are in that way; the trigger point is something we just foresee.
One of the critical issues consists on providing the Internet of Things with an efficient system regarding energy supply to sensor and antennas. Energy supply for each sensor is a real challenge, as well as the necessary number of repeaters to cover an area, which is in fact the whole existing surface. If sensors are supplied with traditional batteries within an environment not adapted to the new concept of Internet of “all things”, those batteries should be replaced on a frequent basis, so the system would not be scalable. Let’s imagine the army of operators needed just for this task. More than half of the sensors would be left aside due to problems with labour, organization failures, budget cuts… Let’s remind that the sensor is the basis of the system, the one that provides a name to the object, the one that transmits information.
But this not a problem either: we have a solution! Resolution of technical issues are usually quantified in time and budget, two variables that influence each other inversely. What’s left then for the so expected trigger? On the last 10th of June the first edition of startup4Cities did take place in Madrid. This was its claim, as you still can read on the event website:
“Have you developed an innovative idea to improve your city? Would you like to check it on a real scenario? This is your opportunity! Representatives from more than 50 Spanish municipalities will hear and evaluate your proposal, and if they show their interest on it, they will offer their cities as an urban laboratory. Can ever be a better prize? PARTICIPATE!”
Isn’t it such a declaration of intent? “PARTICIPATE!” it’s said at the end, “we put the cities as laboratory.” Every time the startup as this term is used as in Silicon Valley: lean method, minimum feasible products, and fresh ideas from teams with initiative, sacrifice, talent and lots of passion. It is with projects from people such as those presenting in this event where the trigger of the new digital revolution will occur. It may not come from a single project, but the addition of some projects will turn visible something that still isn’t. We should take into account that this sort of projects focuses on solving a specific problem to the citizen. A problem that the citizen recognizes as his or hers in first person and also the solution to that problem is usually presented on a nice, free and easy-to-use app with a smartphone, the key to the Smart City.
We shouldn’t forget that people drive the change. That’s why the “Internet of Things” will become the “Internet of People.”