By Kathiravan Palaniappan, Segment Head, Central Europe, Tata Consultancy Services

Source: TCS

Cities are getting smarter. Internet-connected devices now handle everything from energy grids to waste management. But how can we ensure everyone is able to take up all the services that are available?

That’s a challenge being addressed by a project based in the Middle East, which will ultimately allow people to benefit from these innovations wherever they live.

By creating a digital marketplace built on 5G wireless technology, the project – which is being developed with IT companies Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant, Oracle and Sigma – is aiming to reinvigorate city economies.

It was showcased at 2019’s TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World event, a global communications industry summit in Nice, France.

Greater acceptance

There are many definitions of what makes a smart city, but experts believe it is much harder to update an existing infrastructure than to build somewhere new altogether.

Most smart cities use sensors linked to central IT systems to manage things like street lighting, public transport and waste collection. And intelligent utility metering is helping save resources and reduce their environmental impact.

But, although connected devices can help people in their daily lives, not everyone takes them up. A report by the UK Parliament last year found many people think this kind of new technology threatens their jobs and personal security, and feel alienated from something that is designed to improve their lives.

Source: TCS

This project aims to make it easier for citizens to interact with products and services by creating a digital superstore, in which customers can pay their utility bills, rents and municipal charges. They will also be able to transfer money using online billing and digital wallet services.

It’s hoped the project will help smart city technologies gain greater acceptance as more suppliers and consumers use the platform.

And, as digital services have no physical boundaries, they say people living in rural communities will be able to enjoy the same benefits as those in urban areas.

Global opportunities

Globally, the project aims to encourage telecom companies to use their existing infrastructure to create similar platforms in new markets, helping them move beyond their traditional business models.

The project’s proof of concept shows the potential for telecom firms to position themselves as focal points for delivering smart technology, building on existing digital services such as video streaming and internet access.

The platform framework is based on the principles of TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture, which is a collaborative and agile alternative to traditional platform architectures.

The United Nations forecasts that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050.

All of which means that the potential opportunities to create the cities of the future are huge.

TCS is one of the key partners of the TM Forum, the global industry association promoting collaboration and collective problem-solving to maximize the business success of communication and digital service providers and their ecosystem of suppliers.