Adrian De Luca

Smart City Defined IT: Business & Technology Predictions in Asia Pacific for 2015 (Part 2)

Blog Post created by Adrian De Luca Employee on Dec 10, 2014

(This is a continuation of a previous blog)


In Back to the Future II, Zemeckis cleverly depicts the interaction of people and the things around them.  Scenes like the Jaws 19 holographic advertising, voice activated automation of the McFly home and seeming instant policing when Biff crashes into the Clock Tower gave us a fascinating look at what is possible when our urban environment responds to us.  Even if our reality today is not quite the same, we are on well on the way to intelligent things and this inspires my first prediction;


#1 - Smart City initiatives will drive greater investment in the Internet of Things


Asia Pacific countries are amongst the largest and fastest-growing urban areas on the planet.  It also has some of the worlds most underdeveloped infrastructure, densest cities, fastest growing energy consumption, busiest transport routes, active natural events and arguably most at threat of climate change.  Last year, the Smart Cities Council assessed 129 cities across Asia and Africa most at risk from interventions to address many of these issues.


These pressing demographic and social developments have led a number of Governments including Japan, India, China, Sri Lanka and South Korea to embark on Smart City initiatives to tackle these urban challenges, mange energy and resource consumption and prepare for further growth.  In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised 100 smart cities and industrial corridors to make India a manufacturing hub.  In China, the Ministry of Housing and Urban and Rural Development has selected 193 local governments and economic development zones as official smart city pilot project sites, making them eligible for funding from a ¥100 billion ($16 billion) investment fund sponsored by the official China Development Bank.  In Singapore the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) trialling a number intelligent solutions in the Jurlong Lake district as part of its smart nation initiative.



These nation building initiatives across the region will propel significant momentum in the development of intelligent social infrastructure solutions that combine Mobility, Advanced Analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) interaction.


The IoT market is forecast to top US$9.96 bn across the region in 2014, growing at a CAGR of 34.1% to reach US$57.96 bn by 2020. Global M2M adoption increased by over 80% in the past year to reach 22%, but in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa the growth was 27% surpassing the established markets of America and Europe.


To manage the expected 50 billion devices that will be connected to the internet in the next 5 years, and the new generation of application platforms that will drive them, a different kind of infrastructure topology is emerging.  Not only will this data accelerated workload require an unprecedented scale of computing, network and storage optimised to deal with the volume, velocity and variety of data they consume, but will be fundamentally built on a new set of attributes.


Connecting everyday devices and appliances to the Internet so they are able to communicate with services and to each other is important.  Even if standards for the Internet of Things are yet to be settled, MQTT and CoAP appear to be the front runners are most importantly, open to springboard their adoption. When it comes to appliying this to cities, the British Standards Institute recently released their proposal for the Smart City Concept Model (SCCM), PAS182 providing a basis for the interoperability of systems and data-sharing between agencies.  Hitachi have almost two decades of experience connecting things to IT systems through our early pioneering days in RFID.


To deal with the scale of connected devices, velocity of data ingestion and computation and storage power required to process and delver back services, a there needs to be a paradigm shift in the type of core infrastructure provided.


Web Scale IT, pioneered by the large cloud services providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook has emerged preeminent model to build IT for the scale of Smart Cities.  Once the domain of the global giants who are rich in engineering skills, solutions are now reaching the enterprise.  In fact one analyst believes that as many as half of enterprises will be operating this model in the next two years.


As a new category of integrated system, hyper converged systems are characterized by their attributes for scale out resources (compute, memory, network, storage), programmable management and extreme fault tolerance.  Not only do they deliver the scale and reliability of such demanding workloads, but are more agile and adaptable to changing business needs.  Abstracting underlying hardware resources and bringing powerful hypervisor control together with network and storage functions, applications will be able to leverage a much richer way of orchestrating and automating infrastructure for its needs.  Although it is still early days for Software Defined Data Center technology, the ability to implement infrastructure functionality like storage in software and manage it through API’s will be a foundation capability for scaling smart city apps.


There is no shortage of new players for this adaptation of the technology, companies like Nutanix and SimpliVity provide appliances in various flavors and packaging.  We also saw VMware announce EVO: Rail in August leveraging its vSAN technology, with Hitachi bringing this solution to market next year.


Leveraging virtualization, hyper converged systems are nicely suited to a number of today’s storage challenges, however its really only the beginning as we see much broader uses cases for this technology next year.  We will see this architecture underpinning the IT infrastructure for many intelligent infrastructure solutions, particularly in Telecommunications, Healthcare and Public Safety.


The critical ingredient besides device connectivity and data centre infrastructure is of course the software.  Applications that put the data into context, automate the business rules, distill and refine the data to help users visualize information is what makes these solutions game changing.  This is why back in October, Hitachi Data Systems announced the acquisition of Pantascene and Avrio to bring end to end solutions in the public safety space.


With a global business in social infrastructure as well as Information Technology, Hitachi is in the unique position to leverage multiple of the disciplines required to deliver highly integrated solutions to Smart Cities.  In fact, Hitachi already has a number of smart city projects in places like India and China, and was last year awarded the Asia Pacific Smart City Solutions Provider of the year.