Cisco unveils global blueprint for cities

Its "Intelligent Urbanization" pilot aims to help a city in India use the network to integrate city management to bring economic growth and better quality of life.

Swati Prasad
4 min read

INDIA--Technology has made possible better management of cities and their amenities so that citizens can enjoy better quality of life. To this end, Cisco Systems unveiled in Bengaluru city on Thursday, its "Intelligent Urbanization" blueprint.

Through this global framework, Cisco plans to help cities around the world use the network as the next utility for integrated city management, better quality of life for citizens, and economic development.

Intelligent Urbanization brings together Cisco's products and services, partners, and other technologies, with an initial focus on public safety and security, transportation, buildings, energy, health care, and education.

Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers said during a press briefing here: "Each of these market segments has the potential to generate over $1 billion in revenue opportunities for Cisco." During the media event at its Globalization Centre East in Bengaluru, which was Webcasted worldwide, the networking equipment vendor also announced a pilot program with the State of Karnataka to develop the plan for an intelligent, smart, and sustainable Bengaluru city.

This collaboration builds on Cisco's technology expertise with Connected Urban Development (CUD), a public-private partnership in cities such as San Francisco, Amsterdam, Seoul, and Singapore, which aims to develop replicable ICT offerings to help promote sustainable, intelligent urban development practices.

In Seoul, Korea, for example, the company is working on a pilot project for intelligent transportation using PDAs for route planning.

Cisco's chief globalization officer, Wim Elfrink, who is also executive vice president of services, said at the event: "Technology and expertise from these various initiatives will be brought together for a program that covers all aspects of Bengaluru."

Chambers added: "Bengaluru will be a reference site for other cities worldwide that may be interested in similar projects."

The Indian city has a large number of technology workers at its numerous technology centers, and has been demanding high-quality infrastructure, including connectivity. And in the past, the local government had neglected Bengaluru's infrastructure.

The arrangement with the city does not specify a financial model or the amount of investment in the project. However, Chambers said the project could have a term of 10 years or more.

"We have started with a pilot project that will continue for the next three to six months. Later, we will extend it to education and health care sectors," he said. Cisco also plans to extend this initiative to other Indian states over the next nine to 12 months.

Toward intelligent cities
"With the number of people living in urban areas projected to grow from 3 billion today to 5 billion by 2030, urbanization is a global trend impacting citizens, governments, and industries," Chambers said. This trend will also significantly impact the environment, he said. For instance, the world's 20 most populous cities alone are responsible for 75 percent of the planet's energy consumption, he noted.

Building on CUD, the Intelligent Urbanization initiative will bring together a broad portfolio of Cisco's products, services and partners. The initial focus will be on global sustainable offerings. The vendor has several such offerings for public safety and security, transportation, buildings, energy, health care and education. Its Intelligent Security technologies, for example, enable automated detection, immediate assessment, and a coordinated response to a security incident.

Elfrink said: "The Internet is quickly expanding from mobile devices and computers to become the 'Internet of things,' as it begins to encompass not only the consumer and business Internet but now the industrialization of the Internet." He said cities that run on information will transform the quality of life for citizens, drive economic growth, and improve city services and management.

The Intelligent Urbanization initiative may prove to be more effective during a recession. "In these tough economic times, cities that use the network to accelerate and multiply their infrastructure investments will be those that not only survive challenges but thrive and lead into the future," Elfrink added.

Within the past month, Cisco announced several acquisitions and offerings that are key to Intelligent Urbanization. On February 10, it made a strategic announcement in Majitek, a provider of software platforms that enable an environment where everything is connected and available as a service in the network. On the same day, it also announced a strategic alliance with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to jointly develop and deliver IT services to address customers' needs in mature and emerging markets globally.

Similarly, on January 29, Cisco launched EnergyWise Technology for Cisco Catalyst switches--an integral part of the company's technology plan to provide organizations an intelligent IP network as a key enabler for energy efficiency. That day, it also completed the acquisition of Richards-Zeta Building Intelligence, a provider of intelligent middleware technology for building systems that enables the convergence of building systems onto an IP network.

On Thursday, Cisco unveiled the Incheon Metropolitan City in South Korea and it will collaborate to transform the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) into a center of globalization expertise in the Asia-Pacific region. As part of this collaboration, Cisco will provide its experience and technologies around creating "intelligent urbanization" for the Korean city.

Swati Prasad, a freelance IT writer, contributes to ZDNet Asia from India.