Non-standardised tech "could cost smart cities billions"

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City authorities and technology partners could lose hundreds of billions of dollars if they choose to build smart cities with non-standardised technology, a new report has claimed.

Machina Research has said smart cities represent "a complex and multi-dimensional vertical" within the Internet of Things. It said this part of the IoT, comprising multiple domains and companies, as well as diverse IT systems and technologies, is a microcosm of the wider industry, reflecting the potential financial and operational risks.

Multiple types of technology are competing for dominance in the low power, wide area space that will power smart cities. Both LoRa and Sigfox have not been standardised, although Belgian operator Proximus has signalled plans to standardise the former. The operator community's cellular choice, NB-IoT, is currently being standardised by 3GPP, with deployments expected early next year.

In the report, which was commissioned by wireless standards company InterDigital, researchers said non-standardised technology could prove more costly in the long term. The report predicted the cost to implement these types of network could reach $1.12 trillion by 2025, compared to $781 billion for using standardised technology.

Costs would be saved through interoperability, a freedom from vendor lock-in and lower costs of integrating different types of technology.

As well as financial benefits, Machina said standardised smart cities could lead to a 27 percent increase of the number of devices within a city, and improve the speed and adoption of new technology.

Jeremy Green, Principal Analyst, Machina Research, said: “Government bodies investing in smart city initiatives to drive civic improvements are under constant scrutiny to ensure public funds are spent wisely. Furthermore, the existing ‘internet of silos’ approach to IoT deployment is delaying the widespread adoption of IoT solutions, including smart cities. Our research demonstrates that open standards can solve both challenges, ensuring money is invested more efficiently, and dramatically accelerating IoT adoption and growth.”