The Future Is Here

By Rich Miller Editor, Data Center Frontier Smart Cities, Internet of Things (IoT) & Autonomous Cars

Published in Issue 1 | MARCH 10, 2019

Smart Cities are a key component of our digital future, bringing together the Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars to change the way we live and do business in major urban centers.

The Smart City integrates information technology into the fabric of city life, using analytics and sensors to better manage cities and make urban life safer, more efficient and sustainable. It’s just one more expression of how next-generation technologies are remaking the American landscape.

Some elements of the Smart City remain years away, and face significant barriers to adoption. But the rapid advances in technology are providing city managers and policy makers with intriguing new tools.

The IoT is already bringing intelligence to everything from trash cans to park benches to dedicated adsupported WiFi. The goal is to allow cities to use sensors and data analysis to bring intelligence to urban environments, and improve the quality of life for residents.

The trajectory of Smart Cities has been further transformed by the rise of autonomous vehicles, which have the potential to bring transformational changes in how cities are designed and function. Futurists and Smart Cities advocates foresee a future in which self-driving cars communicate with one another and with the infrastructure around them. Imagine an urban landscape in which cars communicate with streetlights to improve traffic flow, and use sensors to locate empty parking spaces – and naturally, park themselves.

The Data Center Angle

Data centers will be major beneficiaries of the emergence of Smart Cities, which will require lots of connectivity, data storage and compute power for analytics to crunch all that data. Early adopters are already deploying networks of sensors and devices to lay the groundwork for more ambitious smart infrastructure ahead.

“Data centers that support Smart Cities can’t be designed on power and real estate concerns,” said Melvin Greer, Chief Data Scientist at Intel Corp. “They’ll be designed in a much smaller footprint and focused on a much more concentrated series of concerns. In the Smart Cities of the future, the data will be more important than the center.”

A number of developers and service providers are positioning themselves to benefit from demand for urban IT infrastructure. Smart Cities are a particular flavor of edge computing, with the accompanying focus on right sizing the data center form factor.

When it comes to data center infrastructure, Smart Cities will mix the old and the new, creating opportunities for traditional “core” connectivity hubs as well as smaller data centers optimized for edge computing.