Munish Khetrapal is the managing director of Smart+Connected Communities at Cisco. He sat down with TechRepublic at Cisco Live 2018 to discuss how several very different cities with different needs were adapting IoT and smart city technology to suit the needs of their citizens. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Munish Khetrapal:I hope you enjoyed the session. We went through Cary, NC, Las Vegas, and [the] Port of Rotterdam as great examples for smart cities and how people are using technology to help improve operations of cities and their ports.

They want to achieve different purposes, so Cary, NC is talking about how to make sure that their city is being used and leveraged to respond to the needs of the citizens, and it’s a great example. I love the story. The way they say it is, they have a downtown area which is becoming very crowded, and the need for the city on Friday evening and Saturday morning is very different because Friday evening, you have a lot of demands and it’s a lively environment. You have more younger generation going there, and Saturday morning, we have farmer’s markets with more household and elderly people who would go there. The parking space is limited, so how do you dynamically allocate parking based on the type of audience you have, and change the environment of the city to support the needs is how they are responding to that environment? So it’s really, really a classic example of how the city adapts to the need of citizens, rather than the citizen adapting to the city’s needs, or the city infrastructure.

SEE: IT leader’s guide to the rise of smart cities (Tech Pro Research)

Las Vegas is a completely different example. It’s all about innovation. It’s about how do you ensure the safety and security in the streets of Vegas? How do you ensure that the environmental pollution is being detected? How do you ensure that you have traffic congestion and management? So it’s how they’re using technology and IoT, specifically, with our Cisco Kinetic for Cities platform, and enabling a completely different experience in terms of how you manage operations of a city. They can forecast when the environmental conditions are getting worse or traffic congestion is getting bad. They can redeploy their police force.

And [the] Port of Rotterdam, it’s a large port in the European environment and it’s moving a lot of goods, so they want to make sure they’re moving these goods and tracking ships that carry all these goods in a streamline fashion. So it’s all about efficiency and improving productivity of ports so that they can get goods moving in from one place to another place. So very, very different reasons why people are using IoT and technology, but the beauty is that it’s the same common technology. It’s just how you leverage it for different business purposes that makes it impactful.

2013, when I first started talking about smart cities, we started talking about 2009, but 2013 is when it started accelerating. People were talking about “What is a smart city? What does it do?” In 2014, we started moving to “Okay, we got what smart cities is. It helps to improve citizen lives. It helps to improve operations of cities. Where do I start? What do I do?” 2016, 2017, we started talking about business models, and now, we are talking about all of these three things together and how do we improve. So if I look back at these cities, there’s some cities well into the journey of creating smart cities, and if you take LA, you take San Francisco, you take Chicago, you take Cary, NC, Kansas City, my favorite place, Miami. All these places have started to roll out smart city initiatives, which is first to provide connectivity to citizens.

That’s the very foundation of enabling a smart and connected community. It’s to create a network, and a network that allows things and people to connect to each other, and then, the next piece from there is ensuring safety and security of citizens are taken care of. That’s the foundation to me, for any smart city service. Followed by which, then you start improving operations, parking operations, waste management operations, lighting operations, so you improve efficiency and productivity. And then, you layer it with quality of life, improving predictability of how the environmental conditions are going to impact a citizen, or making sure that you’re controlling and licensing, the right environmental licenses are provided to the right people or right places, so that you’re not increasing pollution.

So various quality of life parameter to start building in, and that’s how we see this whole layered capability. Now, different cities are in different phases of the journey, and they’re different initiatives that we see across the board.