Electrotechnical Aspects of Smart Cities

Written by N. Kishor Narang

The sustainable development of any nation depends on the development of sustainable cities, which can only be achieved through the wide-reaching rollout of integrated and scalable solutions for smart & sustainable cities/communities. Sustainable smart cities and communities will contribute to sustainable development and resilience through sound decision-making and the adoption of both a long and short-term perspective.

Cities face a whole set of challenges in providing for the needs of their residents. The first challenge is to provide for the many needs of their residents. People come to cities and stay in them because they believe that by living there, they will have their needs met. The needs of residents, of course, vary in importance. There are many basic needs that a city must provide, not simply related to survival, but also those that are required to provide the citizen with a reasonable quality of life.

Systems Approach: The multiplicity of technologies and their convergence in many new and emerging markets, particularly those involving large-scale infrastructure, demands a top-down approach to standardization, starting at the system or system architecture rather than at the product level. Therefore, the systemic approach in standardization work can define and strengthen the systems throughout the technical community to ensure that highly complex market sectors can be properly addressed and supported. It promotes increased co-operation with many other standards-developing organizations and relevant non-standards bodies needed on an international level. Further, standardization needs to be inclusive both top-down and bottom-up; a new hybrid model with a comprehensive approach is needed.

Smart cities are mainly self-evolving cities with thousands of individual needs and capabilities to be handled systemically. Such systemic challenges can be only be comprehensively solved via a systems approach. In the case of Smart Cities, the systems approach should be a holistic and iterative discovery process that helps by first defining the right problem in complex situations and then finding elegant, well-designed, and working solutions. It should be used not only in the design of technical solutions, but also for architecting systems with many various additional aspects (human, economic, social, etc.).

A city is a complex system involving many domains, infrastructures, services, stakeholders, and aspects. More than ever before, many different organizations will need to collaborate to deliver the many services and systems that will help make cities smarter; technology integration is a special challenge that requires broad cooperation in a systems approach.

Different international standardization organizations and stakeholders carry out standardization work from different perspectives and concerns. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has taken a systems approach to smart cities to provide a holistic approach to address complex situations. The IEC Systems Committee (SyC) Smart Cities is active in coordinating the standards work of various IEC committees as well as other groups, such as ISO, with the aim of promoting the development of standards to assist in the integration, interoperability, and effectiveness of city systems.

The IEC doesn't have a single suite of standards for smart cities. Instead, the IEC has a systems committee for smart cities that coordinates the work of dozens of IEC technical committees which develop over 1,800 standards that are used by technical experts to make cities smarter. This includes, for example, smart energy, water management and sanitation, mobility, health care, smart buildings, and city services. These standards also serve as a basis for testing and certification.

The IEC SyC Smart Cities was established in 2016. Our approach is based on a combination of our developing areas of expertise, environmental scans on the needs and opportunities facing smart cities, and opportunities for collaboration with relevant IEC Committees and other standards developing organizations (SDOs). The aim is to eventually help facilitate the development of an IEC-wide smart city standards strategy that will provide a framework for the work of all IEC Committees in developing standards of relevance to smart cities.

As the Systems Committee Smart Cities, our scope is: To foster the development of standards in the field of electrotechnology to help with the integration, interoperability, and effectiveness of city systems. The main role of our SyC, therefore, is to analyze the system as a whole and then provide information to the relevant IEC Committees to enable them to develop the electrotechnical standards needed.

We are explicitly empowered to develop systems standards relating to smart cities. However, developing such standards is not our primary role. Rather it is to gain a deep understanding of the issues and needs of smart cities and identify their requirements for standards by identifying and analyzing use cases and developing the Smart Cities Reference Architecture. In doing this, we want to make it easy for the IEC Committees to see how their focused standards work fits in with the wider requirements of Smart Cities.

By working closely with the International Organization for Standardization and the International Telecommunication Union, as well as with other relevant SDOs, we ensure that the electrotechnical standards that are developed by IEC Committees form a consistent part of the family of international standards that are being developed to meet the needs of cities. Our role, therefore, is to enable the IEC to develop electrotechnical related standards to support smart cities and to ensure that these are easily integrated with standards developed by other SDOs.

Our work program essentially focuses on understanding the city’s stakeholders’ requirements by capturing their diverse concerns and expectations and collecting use cases. These requirements feed into the Smart Cities Reference Architecture which includes all the relevant models, views, viewpoints, and domain-specific and cross-cutting aspects covering all the verticals and horizontals of the overarching Smart Cities Capabilities Model. Beyond developing the overarching Smart Cities Reference Architecture jointly with ISO TC 268 - Sustainable cities and communities, and ITU-T SG 20 - Internet of things (IoT) and smart cities and communities (SC&C), we plan to develop a set of related Reference Architecture standards for various cross-cutting, as well as functional areas of Smart Cities. Last but not the least, we are developing a comprehensive Standards Inventory related to Smart Cities and mapping them to relevant aspects, domains, use cases, and applications for ready reference of the global smart cities’ stakeholders.

The IEC systems committee on smart cities is developing the Smart Cities Reference Architecture and Standardization roadmap in cooperation with other Standards Development organizations. It aims to identify and close gaps and develop relevant international standards as building blocks for tailor-made solutions to meet the common and unique requirements of each city across geographies, nations, regions, and continents.



This article was edited by Melkior Ornik.

To view all articles in this issue, please go to February 2023 eNewsletter. For a downloadable copy, please visit the IEEE Smart Cities Resource Center.

n kishor narang
N. Kishor Narang is a Technology Advisor, Mentor, Design Strategist & Architect in Electrical, Electronics & ICT with over 45 years of professional experience in education, research, design and consulting running an Independent Design House – NARNIX since 1981. Over 30 years of hardcore research and design development experience in solutions, systems, products, hardware, software & firmware (embedded software) across diverse technology & application domains, and over 10 years of consultancy experience to different segments of business & industry. He has over 350 research & design mentees in the electronics, ICT & STI ecosystems. Currently, he is mentoring many deep tech & disruptive tech startups.For the last 10 years, he has been deeply involved in standardization in the electrical, electronics, communications, information technology and cyber security domains with a focus on identifying gaps in standards to bring harmonization through standardized interfaces to ensure end-to-end Interoperability. With focus on ubiquity & comprehensive interoperability in Digital Infrastructures, he has been pursuing applied research in last mile communication and 5G communication architectures developing some unique approaches resulting in national & global standards. Proactively contributing to IEC, ISO, ITU, IEEE & BIS along with various industry consortia.

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