A City Operating System for Future Smart Cities
Vassilis Seferidis & Reza Nejabati write for OpenGov Expert Opinion
In the last decade an increasing number of cities around the world have launched Smart City initiatives whereby they aim to utilise the latest development in ICT technologies to enhance existing city services or create new types of services to improve the lives and interaction with their citizens.
Smart city services are tightly integrated with the ICT capabilities of the infrastructure. They rely on ICT infrastructure for collection, manipulation and interpretation of data from a wide-range of sources (e.g. sensors, CCTV cameras, citizens’ SmartPhones, etc.) to rapidly create and deploy innovative urban services at city-scale.
However, all previous smart city projects have been based upon closed, inflexible and vendor-specific ICT solutions. Any new service developed on top of such solution uses proprietary Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which typically lack the ability to optimise the underlying ICT infrastructure depending on specific performance and efficiency service requirements.
This significantly limits the ability of the city to innovate with the creation and deployment of new urban services and –more importantly- it is impossible to replicate and transfer from one city to another.
Zeetta Networks is a technology spin-out from the High Performance Networks group of the University of Bristol that offers an alternative solution based on City Operating System (CityOS).Based on open source software technologies, CityOS is an open and programmable ICT orchestration software that controls and manages data flows between different sub-systems in a smart city.
It is based on Software Defined Network (SDN) and Network Virtualisation (NV) technologies which have been developed over the last 5 years under substantial funding from the European Commission, the UK Government and industry.
It provides an open platform for the development of applications and services from third parties with transparent access to the underlying ICT infrastructure. In that respect CityOS is similar to the Android operating system in your SmartPhone which manages and coordinates the data flow between its components.
The City OS has several unique features that make it ideal as a smart city solution:
- Open & Programmable: Offers an open application development environment where third party developers can create new Smart City applications and services on the city’s ICT infrastructure
- Technology Agnostic: Supports a wide variety of devices from Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensor to wireless, wired and cloud computing infrastructure
- Abstraction of underlying resources: Hides all the technology detail of the underlying ICT infrastructure and creates abstract models of the network resources for a simple and easy programing.
- Network virtualisation: CityOS contains a powerful virtualisation engine which enables the “slicing” of the physical ICT network into separate “network slices”, each with its own Quality-of-Service (QoS) requirements. This allows many users to use the same network resources simultaneously for a more efficient and cost effective network utilisation.
CityOS will be deployed in Bristol's Smart City environment as part of REPLICATE Project, a €25 million Horizon2020 project aiming to create integrated smart city solutions to tackle problems such as poor air quality, unsustainable energy use and traffic congestion.
In summary, the CityOS solution enables third party software developers to create innovative smart city applications and services to manage the underlying network resources on isolated slices of the city ICT infrastructure.
The unique features of CityOS enable monitoring, management and optimisation of all interconnected sub-systems for the most efficient utilisation and monetisation of a Smart City infrastructure.