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Cloud enabling any city to become a Smart City

Using Analytics to Equip Communities for Data-Driven Decisions

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Cloud computing is providing the means for virtually any sized city to become a Smart City.

Cloud computing and software as a service can provide the means to quickly acquire data-driven decision-making capabilities that support smart city initiatives, putting advanced services within reach of virtually any size city, according to a new report by Frost Sullivan.

Smart City as a Service – Using Analytic’s to Equip Communities for Data-Driven Decisions report, suggests that regional and municipal governments and large public organizations are striving to deliver higher levels of service, but are challenged with flat or decreased funding to support their efforts.

“Many cities may feel a pressure to try to implement advanced analytics on their own, because of concerns over data security or privacy, or that the capital costs are too large,” says Frost & Sullivan Information & Communication Technologies Growth Consulting VP Brian Cotton. “This may drive them to take on too much that they are not well-equipped to handle or to abandon their aspirations because the challenges are too great.”

“All the tools and enablers that support data-based decision-making in a smart city magnify the flood of data challenges confronting municipal IT departments” the report states. “Analytics, collaboration and Open Data can place substantial storage burdens on municipal IT systems. This is loud and clear in a recent survey we conducted in which 33% of government IT managers in the US cite “data storage growth” as their top IT challenge”, writes Mr Cotton.

The report found that although the analytic and collaboration capabilities that support data-driven decision-making can be implemented on a municipal or department computing platform, many cities did not have the personnel or skill. Instead, it suggests these capabilities can be obtained using a cloud platform, which enables the the flexibility to grow decision-making capabilities “as needs and resources allow”.

A number of tactical and strategic benefits are suggested for aspiring smart cities in using cloud services, including:

  • analytic and collaboration capabilities can be quickly rolled out and scaled up according to demand
  • high levels of resilience, meaning critical smart city services are always available, no matter what time or location they are needed
  • costs can be optimized costs, due to administration from a single console and maximimum infrastructure flexibility

Whilst government has been slower to adopt cloud services compared to other industries, government IT departments are increasing their use of cloud services, according to a survey of government cloud use. A 2014 Frost & Sullivan survey found that 37% of regional and local government IT managers in the US and Europe are currently using cloud computing, including software as a service (SaaS), while 57% are expected to be using it by 2016.

Philadelphia, Chicago and Des Moines were highlighted as examples of cities effectively using data-driven decision-making capability as part of their smart city journey.

Read the report Smart City as a Service.

Learn how Philadelphia is becoming a smart city – Philadelphia Smart City.