Let’s hit the road towards connected, sustainable cities

On the occasion of the INNOVATIVE CITY event in Nice, the Metropolitan Nice Côte d’Azur and Bosch signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote joint projects in the field of urban innovation as well as connected and sustainable cities.

From the left: Christian Estrosi, Président de la Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur and Guy Maugis, President Bosch France

To better understand the drivers behind urban innovation, let’s take a step back.

I trust there are three milestones that mark the need for smarter and better connected cities.

Mankind turned into a mostly urban species. While in medieval times cities were small, limited and enclosed by protecting walls, they almost grow infinite today. In 1950, New York was the only city counting more than 10 million inhabitants – today, it is one among more than 25 and the tendency for mega cities is still rising. In consequence, the urban population of the world is bigger than the rural population. By 2050, United Nations projections indicate that the urban population will expand to 6.25 billion. Link to report

The mobile internet has won over fixed lines. In recent times, the number of mobile internet users (e.g. 3G, 4G as well as WLAN and other communications via airwaves) surpassed those who need a fixed connection via cable. Still, billions of people living in cities and billions of mobile devices operated by us do not compare to the connectivity held by the Internet of Things (IoT).

By 2022, approx. 14 billion devices are expected to be connected directly or indirectly with the internet. We humans will be hopelessly outnumbered by connected and networked objects in the Internet of Things. (Note: We consider a device connected directly or indirectly to the internet as a connected device. Other so called “smart devices” like smart phones, tablets or computers are considered to be “user interfaces”. Find more details here.)

But will today’s and future cities, no matter if average or mega city, automatically turn into smarter cities?

Unfortunately, there is no turnkey solution for a smart city – each city must be viewed individually and holistically. Though the good news is: Each city can broadly be divided into five areas of activity: mobility, energy, communication, security and city life. Indeed, these are wide areas, e.g. communication covers improved internal communication inside the city administration up to involving citizen or visitors into communication and leveraging their crowd knowledge. This alone can improve city life tremendously; however, city life also covers areas of such as health, well being and education.

[SOFTWARE SHOWCASE] A city can broadly be divided into five areas of activity: Mobility, energy, communications, security and city life. Watch our showcase “Urbanville”.

Tom DeMarco once said: “You can’t control what you can’t measure”. When it comes to smart cities, the key issue is that lots of data, especially from these five building blocks, is available already today. Still, the related departments often work isolated from each other in their specific area or “silo”. Like the protecting walls of the medieval cities, these barriers between the “silos” need to be broken to unlock new potential.

Additionally, smart cities also challenge vendors and developers. Just another great product, device or software is not enough. Vendors and developers also need to re-think and change their attitude from a sales driven mindset towards a networking approach. Only together with their ‘city customers’ they can define solutions and strategies to tackle the individual pain points in these areas.

Concerning Nice, Christian Estrosi, Président de la Métropole Nice Côte d’Azur, is committed to lead a digital and sustainable strategy. Bosch will accompany the Mediterranean city on its way to a smart city in the deployment of the Internet of Things. This partnership will facilitate the development of connected systems that are really adapted to the specific environment of Nice in particular in the areas of mobility (e.g. fleet management, eMobility and connected cars), security and energy (e.g. by intelligent building management) – not only to improve the quality of city life but also to generate savings.

One thing is for sure: A city is never completed or completely planned; it always needs to be adjusted, re-considered and re-invented. Today’s cities as well as the upcoming smart cities are a kind of living and dynamic organisms.

How smart do you consider the city you live in? What are your expectations to innovative, smart and connected cities?


About the author

Christian Heinrich

Christian Heinrich

Working for more than 15 years in international sales and marketing (mainly consumer products), following my time as a marketing consultant @ Bosch Software Innovations, I’m now sales and marketing manager at Bosch Thermotechnik, still focusing on connected and smart home technologies in the Internet of Things. Being highly mobile, my view is: Home is where your heart lives – besides my strong passion for technologies and gadgets, my family is the center of my life.