SDG 11: Cities SDG 12: Commerce SDG 9: Infrastructure

The next Smart City frontier is here

It integrates everything in a local economy to make it all resilient, not just traditional infrastructure

The Entry

Toronto had never seen anything like it, a massive rainfall and flood in early July 2013 that paralyzed the city and led to a 10-year $3.1 billion resilience program to make sure it is better prepared next time. And that’s just for stormwater management.

Today, Toronto is a 100 Resilient Cities member, and Chief Resilience Officer Elliott Cappell told an Urban Land Institute audience last month that continued development is paving the way for future flood events even factoring in the sound plan his office is spearheading. The specter is worsened by rising Lake Ontario levels the city is just now inserting in its plans and contingencies.

Enter Cisco and Teradata, not directly, mind you, at least not that we know, but rather the potentially game-changing alliance they announced just last week (story linked below) to deliver more robust Smart City solutions to urban districts and communities facing a range of infrastructure resilience challenges.

Teradata is a global leader in big-data analytics. Cisco, a 100RC partner company, offers the world’s leading Smart+Connected City platform, recently enhanced under the new name Kinetic for Cities. The combined potential is enormous, and not just for these two giants.

Cities, of course, have been investing heavily in Smart City nodes, sensors and related data-gathering tech for years. That’s not news.

The story today is the next frontier, where a city strengthens resilience by INTEGRATING data from all its infrastructure silos, also referred to as verticals or sectors, and analyzes it to prepare better and recover faster from natural disasters and such long-term climate stressors as urban heat, supply-chain strains, sea- and lake-level rise, and people displacements and migrations.

In the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security has identified 16 such sectors, some of which are not what easily come to mind when one hears the word infrastructure:

  • Chemicals
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Large-crowd commercial & entertainment facilities (like Toronto’s Eaton Centre Mall pictured above)
  • Financial services
  • Food & agriculture
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Government facilities
  • Defense industry
  • Emergency services
  • Transportation
  • Communications installations
  • Information technology services
  • Energy
  • Nuclear reactors, materials & waste
  • Water
  • Dams

In other words, a city’s entire economy!

The new Smart City, that is, includes the installation of data-gathering systems across chemical depots, key manufacturing and defense-related facilities, large malls and stadiums, banks and hospitals, food producers and distributors, AND such traditional infrastructure as roads, power plants, water reservoirs, and cellular towers.

It is an entirely new game, and rightly so, given the considerably worse climate impacts in the works, and it requires fresh thinking, bigger budgets and faster action.

The Story

Teradata looks to Cisco for Smart City IoT work

By David Curry, RT Insights, 9 March 2018

Highlight: “Currently, Teradata believes the information collected is not being put to use [by cities] because it is stored in departmental silos rather than publicizing it to a city-wide database.”

“Far too many cities do not fully recognize the value of their data,” said Anil Menon, Global President for Smart+Connected Communities at Cisco. “With the Cisco Kinetic for Cities platform, we aim to help cities think holistically about their city infrastructure investments and the value of the data captured by their connected assets.”

Relevant video

The recording of a November 2017 webinar hosted by the New York City-based Intelligent Communities Forum. The main presenter is Nick Martyn, founder and CEO of risk and resilience advisory firm RiskLogik of Ontario. In the magical minutes from 29 to 43, Martyn offers an explanation of how such an integrated smart platform works for climate resilience, using the Toronto flood of 2013 for illustration.

Minutes later, at the 47:18 mark, he said this:

“Everything needed to construct these models is well known. It’s just held in silos for particular purposes and isn’t joined up. What we’re doing is joining it across 10 infrastructure verticals so it creates a network model of dependencies, and then we can understand the net effect of a hazard on all those infrastructures.”

And, I would add, act on that new understanding to save more lives than otherwise and restore the city or community to normalcy far sooner and at much less cost than today.


Long-time green-economy and business journalist, sustainability analyst and communications executive, including 14 years as reporter and editor of Caribbean Business in Puerto Rico, five years as Sustainability Director at two banks on the island, general manager of a green marketing agency, and since 2014 independent strategist, blogger, consultant, freelance writer, and now Editor-Publisher of The Resilience Journal and Founder-President of COMMON Future, a climate-adaptation studio scaling game-changing Next Resilience with communications, construction and culture. Alex is also communications adviser to the American Society of Adaptation Professionals and resilience lead at the Puerto Rico chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

1 comment on “The next Smart City frontier is here

  1. Pingback: The future arrived 9/20. Let’s face it. – The Resilience Journal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: