• smart cities
  • Big Data
  • Smart Parking
  • Smart Lighting

Laying a Standard Foundation for the Smart City

Grant Samms
Jan 02, 2020

Connected City 4

As the number of companies offering smart city sensors continues to grow, so do the variety of ways to encode sensor data. With so much value in rich data analysis, the inability of a city to include some of its data in wholistic analysis can hamper smart city efforts. It can also stand in the way of future expansions by compelling cities to stick with a single vendor to retain access to data—the so-called vender lock-in.

While cities recognize the seriousness of these potential pitfalls, industry organizations realize the growing risk that non-standard data can pose. In response, alliances dedicated to standardizing data either in recording, transmission, or communications are forming. These alliances can be found in all sectors of smart city operations and more are expected to be created as data-driven smart cities continue to develop. A good example is the work being done in the parking sector.

The Rise of the Data Standardization Alliance

The simple act of parking a car in a garage can generate a large volume of data, which can be encoded differently by each vender across a city. Each transaction generates time, cost, length of stay, location, and more categories of data. Parking sensors can further enrich this data when present. When this parking data is combined, the resulting dataset is incredibly valuable for smart mobility efforts. But without standards for recording each category, this dataset can be difficult to access and analyze.

To address this, the International Parking and Mobility Institute, British Parking Association, and European Parking Association formed the Alliance for Parking Data Standards (APDS) in 2018. The primary goal of APDS is to establish a common language for parking information and make communication between parking operators more streamlined. This ease of communication is expected to reduce costs for members.

While the work of APDS is focused on benefiting parking providers, data standardization will have benefits beyond the industry. Standardization simplifies communication with other industries and reduces barriers to partnerships between private entities. Similarly, if a city wants to undertake a rich analysis of vehicles parking in its boundary, working with providers that adhere to APDS' standard would simplify the process.

APDS is not alone on the smart city data standardization field. The TALQ Consortium aims to play a similar role for smart lighting by establishing a standard for the lighting’s management software. Goals of the TALQ Consortium include creating a common language for smart city lighting applications. Beyond the standardization groups for specific smart city platforms, there are numerous partnerships dedicated to standards in wireless communications protocols.

Usable Data Is Key for Smart Cities

Data interoperability is one of the keys to smart city projects now and in the future. As data lakes fill up, third parties interested in using data need to know that acquired data is usable. Whether in data collection, transmission, or communication, organizations like APDS are emerging to ensure that data is available to build upon.