Gilad David Maayan - Contributing Author

Migrating Smart City Applications to the Cloud: Challenges and Benefits

Smart city applications like road traffic management, smart parking and street lighting are widely deployed around the world. These technologies reduce energy usage and costs, and improve the city operations and customer service. To reap the full benefits of a smart city, applications have to share data with each other, operate across cities, and ensure city operations are transparent across many groups.

Cloud computing allows applications to easily share information, respond dynamically to changes in the environment, and adhere to stakeholder requirements and requested load. Therefore, smart city applications have to be planned, implemented, and operated as cloud-native applications. In addition, many cities are growing rapidly, and they must ensure that their applications can scale accordingly. Cloud computing is the most logical solution to this situation.

Technological Challenges in Smart City Development

Smart city applications, such as smart transport, water and energy, operate in highly dynamic infrastructures and environments. To address the underlying complexities of such environments, smart cities should embrace cloud-based ecosystems. However, developing such ecosystems introduces a number of challenges.

Agile and Scalable Smart City IT Infrastructure

A smart city infrastructure platform has to seamlessly integrate all applications, sensors, and services to improve returns on capital investments over time. As smart cities continue to evolve, non-scalable infrastructures become useless. In addition, the infrastructure must be able to support the large amounts of data produced by IoT devices.

For example, as cities continue investing in transportation infrastructure like ride-sharing apps, smart traffic lights and roads, data usage will escalate. Without the ability to connect and scale the data generated by these components, citizens will not enjoy the full benefits of a smart and connected city.

Efficient Data Processing and Analytics

Smart cities are only as good as their ability to process data. Efficient data processing requires an automated and intelligent infrastructure that can handle growing data generation.

The infrastructure of a smart city has to support long-term data storage, analysis and processing. The ability to efficiently analyze and store large amounts of IoT data is what truly accelerates the advantages of a smart city.

Privacy Concerns

Open and shareable data is one of the building blocks of a smart city. However, there is a growing public demand for transparency. Therefore governments and private companies face constant investigations over private data collection.

For example, street cameras can help detect criminals, but they also instill fear in law-abiding citizens. Another concern is the collection of private data from smart sensors like smart house devices. As a result, city planners and local officials need to prove that data collection is responsible, legal and serves the interest of the public.

Cybersecurity Risks

Internet-connected devices present serious security risks. Data from CCTV cameras, smart parking lots and GPS systems contain confidential information of citizens. Cybercriminals can easily get access to this data and use it for illegal purposes. Therefore, IT professionals and government officials should invest more resources and money in cyber-crime protection of smart cities.

Benefits of Cloud Computing In Smart Cities

Smart cities have to create new ways to connect citizens with cities and businesses, improve IT operations and increase transparency. Cloud computing provides all of these abilities. The next section reviews in detail how smart city applications can benefit from cloud migration.

Efficient Data Management

Smart city development is mainly based on data processing and analysis. Cloud technologies like Cloud Dataflow accelerate the speed and effectiveness of modern data processing methods. Faster, higher-quality data analysis provides more valuable insights for smart cities. Cloud computing is necessary for consistent and efficient data analysis and management.

The benefits of using the cloud for data management includes improving processes like archiving, cost savings, backup, disaster recovery and analytics. Some cloud data management vendors also provide ransomware protection, thus keeping data and applications in a secure environment.

Agility and Scalability

Smart city solutions must react to continuous changes. Real-time processing of streaming data at scale is important to smart cities. Cloud environments can dynamically react to changing needs, whether it’s policy, technology, regulation or funding changes. 

For instance, Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides scalable tools like AWS IoT services. These tools can automatically scale to support a large number of devices and messages. In addition, Amazon Redshift, a managed cloud data warehouse can scale up to petabytes of data.

Compliance

With more data comes more compliance responsibility. Compliance problems in smart cities can lead to lawsuits, regulatory fines, security incidents, and reputational damage. Smart cities must ensure their cloud environment follows data regulation standards like HIPAA, PCI, GDPR and PII.

Public cloud providers like AWS or Azure already have most of the necessary compliance certifications. They provide built-in regulatory compliance for healthcare data, personal data, financial data and more.

Security

A key benefit of cloud computing is that it allows you to innovate and scale while keeping a secure environment. Public clouds are responsible for protecting their infrastructure, including hardware, software, and networking. For example, AWS enables smart cities to leverage secure cloud data warehouses and network architectures.

Sustainability

Smart cities are protecting the environment with sustainable solutions such as recycling, LED lighting, and smart waste management. Cloud computing provides cities with energy and resource efficient infrastructure by using less physical equipment. In addition, cloud technology encourages users to consume only what they need with a self-service and pay-per-use nature. This is why migrating applications to the cloud can make smart cities greener and more sustainable.

Conclusion

Smart cities are still in the development phase, but the potential of smart cities is clear. The user experience in smart cities will improve when the infrastructure and technology better serve our needs. Cities of the future will use Wi-Fi and fast network connections like 5G on all devices and services. This will enable IoT devices and infrastructure to work together seamlessly. In addition, public transportation options will be more efficient. Drivers will be able to find parking more easily, with smart parking solutions.

 

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Gilad David Maayan - Contributing Author

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.

Tags Mobility as a Service mobility ecosystem smart transportation Smart Cities

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