'Societies are facing unprecedented challenges' - Carl Piva, VP Strategic Programs at TM Forum

Published on: 18th August 2016
Carl Piva, VP Strategic Programs at TM Forum will be speaking at the Smart Cities stream of the Smart Summit London being held in the Olympia Conference Centre on the 21st and 22nd of September. The Smart Cities Summit, which will be discussing the impact of IoT on Cities, is a 2 day conference and exhibition co located with the Smart Home Summit and the Industrial Internet Summit.

TM Forum is the global member association for digital business. They provide a platform for hundreds of global members across a wide range of industries – communications, technology, cities and municipal government, finance, healthcare, and so on –  to collaborate and partner to co-create, prototype, deliver, and monetise innovative digital services for their billions of customers.
Carl Piva, VP Strategic Programs at TM Forum
Q & A with Carl

1. Please provide us with some information about the projects you are working on to make cities smarter?

The Smart City Forum’s aim is to accelerate smart city transformation to make cities more liveable, sustainable and competitive.

It brings the world’s leading cities and businesses together, and through TM Forum’s Collaboration Platform and Catalyst proof-of-concept projects they will tackle common challenges, such as privacy, big data analytics, open data and operational efficiency.

We recently launched our Smart City Benchmarking & Maturity Model, which allows cities to assess their strengths and weaknesses in five key areas, and to plan a strategy for improvement, with sign posts to tools and best practices to help them.

We are working closely with FIWARE on advancing the economy of data model, marrying the Forum’s digital partnering and monetization APIs with FIWARE’s city contextual APIs. A number of proof-of-concept Catalyst projects are also demonstrating solutions around areas such as data monetization in smart citiesand breaking data out of silos.

2. What do you believe to be the key drivers for smart city growth?

Societies are facing unprecedented challenges. By 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, up from 54 percent in 2014, according to the United Nations. During that time, population growth and urbanisation could add 2.5 billion people to the world’s city-dwelling population.  This growth places additional stresses on infrastructure and resources. The good news is that huge advances in technology mean we have more options than ever to tackle these issues. I think the combination of these things is the reason why smart cities are reaching a tipping point.

3. How are you working to engage the citizens in smart city activity?

A high level of citizen and shareholder engagement is one of the fundamental requirements of a smart city, and citizen-centricity is a really hot topic right now. One of the five key dimensions of the TM Forum Smart City Maturity & Benchmarking Model is engagement with citizens and key stakeholders.

4. Do you think there needs to be stronger business and public collaboration?

Effective smart city leadership is not simply a matter of strong top-down governance; it is much more about ensuring that the smart city is built around the citizen and their needs and aspirations. That requires working closely with community organisations and businesses.

5. How can cities become smarter, not just connected?

Smart cities focus on the problems that they need to solve, not the technology. That means identifying pain points and defining clear objectives, goals, strategies and metrics. That’s how you avoid technology for technology’s sake.

6. Which are the key ways data is being used to enhance smart city capabilities?

Cities are sitting on masses of data. Exposing it for use by citizens, developers and businesses can unleash innovation, efficiencies and monetization opportunities. It can also help cities to demonstrate transparency and build trust with citizens.

By offering as rich a data-set as possible, cities can enable developers to create applications that improve life in the city and generate revenue. And by breaking data out of departmental silos, they can make better decisions based on data from multiple sources, such as real-time environmental data and traffic management patterns. Eventually data could be shared across cities to support wider innovations and a smart region, smart nation approach. We explored some examples of this in our recent free report, Smart cities: Enabling the economy of data.

The challenge is creating a secure, transparent environment where public data can be exposed and businesses can also contribute their data and be paid for it. This is one of the key areas we are working on with members in the Smart City Forum.

7. What are the key benefits to citizens and cities from smart city services?

The benefits can come in many forms, from decreased costs for the city to shorter commute time for citizens. Again, it comes back to having clearly defined goals and KPIs in place so these benefits can be clearly defined.

8. Are there ways in which the framework for interoperability could be improved?

The ability to port innovation between cities, regions and countries is where huge savings and gains will be made – write it once, use it multiple times.

To do that, we need to build things in open and standardised ways so that they can be plugged together in new and exciting ways we haven’t even thought about yet. Now is the critical time when all the players involved in bringing a smart city to life need to collaborate to understand each other’s needs and challenges, so they can develop solutions that create change now and are open to the future. 

9. What are the key challenges in making the transition to a smart city and how can they be overcome?

In many ways, the evolution of smart cities mirrors the position of the communications industry – these huge, complex companies have been held back by internal silos, inhibiting growth, innovation and insight.

They realised that working in isolation duplicates resources, limits agility and leads to over-spending – ultimately, it threatens the future success and even existence of the business. It’s when departments and even companies can share infrastructure and data that you minimise the cost and maximise the benefits.

10. Cities are now facing these common challenges too as they strive to become smarter. How do they organise to tackle the problem? How do leaders get departments to collaborate when they have worked independently for many years?  How can they create the metrics and the key performance indicators to know where they are now and measure progress? And then how can they manage the change?

There isn’t a simple answer, but cities and communications companies have a huge amount to learn from each other. For me, the key is creating an informed and measurable road-map for continuous improvement and having strong leadership to drive the change.

11. How are security and privacy concerns being addressed?

These are essential considerations in the discussion around smart cities, in terms of citizen trust and public safety. Unfortunately smart cities could be particularly high-risk environments for data and privacy, both of which are already sensitive issues for big data analytics, cloud computing and the IoT. The combination and overlap of these technologies in smart cities rightly multiplies concerns about data management and protection.

There is growing acceptance that security must be central to smart city IT design and processes from the get-go. The adoption of standardised processes and best practices for management that embed, monitor and benchmark privacy in smart city operations is necessary, and TM Forum offers many assets that can help. 12. How are cities bridging internal silos for a cohesive Smart City strategy?

Horizontal integration is a pre-requisite for being a smart city. A recent survey we conducted revealed that although city authorities understand the benefits of horizontal integration, they see it as a big hurdle to clear.  Breaking silos starts with a commitment from the city’s top leadership. You simply have to make senior city leaders accountable for the successful introduction of services or service enablers that go across multiple siloed departments or agencies. 

To register your place and hear from our 160 leading speakers click here. Additionally, for further information on speaking opportunities, sponsorship and exhibition options at the UK’s leading Smart Summit, please visit www.iotsmartsummitlondon.com or contact the Smart Summit London Team on +44 (0) 330 335 3900 or email georgia@nexusmediacom.com.
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