ITU launches smart city community to break down tech barriers

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The International Telecommunications Union has launched an online smart city community, aiming to break down barriers between the different verticals.

The launch of the site comes ahead of the first World Smart City Forum, which is set to take place in Singapore in July. The ITU wants to use the site to identify the key barriers stopping cities from embracing smart technology.

By 2050, an estimated two-thirds of the world's population will live in urban areas. The ITU said smart technology could help solve problems in supplying food, water and energy, as well as managing sanitation and traffic networks.

The ITU said the main obstacle to fully establishing smart cities is that each of the systems come from a range of different suppliers, using different types of technology. Standardised interfaces are vital to interconnect these systems, it added.

Telcos are currently exploring several types of technology to enable smart cities. While the first networks using a forthcoming cellular-based standard are expected to launch later this year, operators are opting for LoRa-based networks.

Orange is planning to install LoRa networks in 16 cities across France this year, for example.

Fellow French operator Bouygues is testing the likes of smart parking and energy management on its own smart city network.

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ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “The development of Smart Sustainable Cities has become a key policy point to administrations around the world as well as to UN organisations.

"The recognition of the potential of smart cities comes in parallel with recognition that building smartness into an existing city, or developing a smart city from the ground up, is a complex undertaking, calling for improved cooperation and more integrated decision-making by a variety of city stakeholders and global standards bodies, such as ITU, International Electrotechnical Commission and International Organisation for Standardisation.”