five technologies of the smart city concept

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The concept of a smart city involves the introduction of hundreds of new technologies – from monitoring movements to transmitting data using light. Together with Rospatent, we found out what “smart cities” look like through the prism of inventions

1. What is a “smart city”

The smart city concept is being implemented by megacities around the world — New York, Singapore, Barcelona, ​​Tokyo, Moscow, Amsterdam and dozens of others. But the interpretation of this concept in different countries and organizations may differ.

For example, IBM, which is considered one of the main developers of smart city solutions, defines it in terms of three key qualities – equipped, connected and intelligent. The European Parliament believes that a “smart city” is one that seeks to solve social problems using info communication resources.

Such cities are strategically important for the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment, the effective management of energy flows, the EU is sure. Russian authorities often describe a smart city as an “innovative city” that comprehensively implements solutions for the benefit of the environment and residents.

Despite the difference in definitions, a more or less common vision of the concept in the world has nevertheless developed. Among the basic characteristics of “smart cities” are sustainability and environmental friendliness, public participation in management, efficient use of data, the desire to improve the quality of services and the standard of living.

Key characteristics of the smart city concept:

well managed

Accessible and open to people and new ideas

Discloses information about its activities

Protects personal data

Based on integrated services and infrastructure

Proactive in educating and developing citizens

Based on definitions from the International Organization for Standardization, the International Electrotechnical Commission, the International Telecommunication Union, the European Telecommunication Standards Institute and other relevant organizations.

2. What patents can tell about smart city development

Patent information helps to assess what technologies the present and future of “smart cities” rely on. Compared to articles on the Internet and scientific publications, it contains much more detailed information about inventions. Patent documents include a detailed technological description of products and technologies and their novelty. And the information itself is open and structured.

In addition, such data make it possible to analyze the costs of protecting inventions, by which one can indirectly judge the importance and prospects of each know-how. “The more resources a company invests in patenting a technology or product, the more valuable the invention is for the company,” explains the Project Office of the Federal Institute of Industrial Property (FIPS), which developed the Smart City patent landscape.

The experts of the Project Office studied the information on granted patents and registered applications for inventions, which are published by patent offices of all countries of the world. In total, they found about 53.3 thousand documents related to the smart city. Of these, about 8. This, in their opinion, indicates the active phase of patenting in the field of “smart cities”.

Inventor activity has grown rapidly since 2009. And in 2018, it began to enter the phase of commercialization of technical solutions. “Already today, all signs of the industrial operation of a smart city are being observed,” the FIPS Project Office points out.

3. Which smart city technologies are the most promising

To highlight the key trends in the technological development of smart cities, the authors of the patent landscape assessed the strength of inventions. They took into account, in particular, cases of direct citation of publications, novelty, territorial coverage and other factors.

This analysis was carried out only for patent documents registered outside of China. The Chinese market is isolated, and it is difficult for local inventors to enter the international level, experts from FIPS explain. Therefore, the non-Chinese segment is more interesting from a commercial point of view and is applicable on a global scale, including in Russia.

After a detailed assessment, the authors ranked the 100 strongest documents in the collection and described in detail several of the most promising technologies.

1. Tracking movements with RFID

The author of the development is the South Korean company KT Corporation, the country’s largest provider of telecommunications services. The system proposed by her tracks the position of moving objects using radio frequency tags (RFID) and communication networks – wireless, mobile or fixed.

Such tags can be placed on work clothes, cars or tools of employees who are engaged in the maintenance of urban infrastructure. In addition, the technology is suitable for accounting and managing access to objects.

2. Moving wireless networks

The creation of moving radio access networks is one of the key directions in the development of wireless communications.

This approach has two main advantages. First, the vehicle has an onboard power supply to which devices can be connected. Secondly, it is densely distributed over the territory of cities and highways.

The authors of the development are the American startup Venial, which specializes in moving data between connected vehicles and the cloud. The company proposed a dynamic configuration of moving networks that adapt in real time to changes in load and other parameters. Algorithms are able to increase the throughput and reliability of networks, reduce losses and delays, provide communication in “dead zones” and reduce maintenance costs.