A Smart Approach to Planning Smart Cities

Global population growth and the continued migration from rural to urban areas are placing unprecedented demand on our cities’ infrastructure, energy consumption and services. In its 2011 State of World Population report, the United Nations Population Fund predicted that the world’s population will increase from 7 billion in 2011 to 9.3 billion by 2050, and as high as 15 billion by 2100. Coupled with this dynamic, while 50% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, within 35 years this will grow to 67%. To remain sustainable, cities need to become smarter. In a wireless age, this means leveraging their connected technology assets to promote citizen-centric solutions.  To meet this need, ATIS recently released a new resource to help in the planning of Smart Cities.

Smart Cities: How does a city become “smart”? 

Smart Cities take planning. The chosen path will vary depending on each city’s stage of development, location, culture, demographics and motivation. In parallel, cities must make decisions regarding which verticals and their associated applications to support. These encompass a wide range of functions and are illustrated in the graphic below.




The challenge facing most cities is that each department may have its own network to support its services and its own priorities with respect to its technology evolution. In a Smart City environment, the foundation is based on an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure that converges these individual disparate networks to offer seamless intelligent connectivity within and across the different verticals in order for a city to fully leverage its assets and capabilities.

To achieve this goal, a unified approach to technology deployment is necessary. While a number of organizations are working to develop frameworks in support of the multitude of both current and future verticals and applications, ATIS has created a detailed Smart Cities Technology Roadmap that provides an overview of the network-enabled technologies and emerging vertical applications to have the greatest impact on the evolving Smart City.

To develop the Roadmap, ATIS worked with its member companies active in this sector who have already partnered with and invested in Smart Cities projects. City planners, CTOs and CIO were also involved. By leveraging their expert knowledge, the Technology Roadmap is a valuable asset to Smart Cities planners. It provides a practical planning guide of network-enabled technologies that will help shape their budgeting, purchasing and staging decisions.

Leveraging some of the early Smart Cities focus areas such as Transportation, Energy, Smart Buildings and Smart Lighting the Roadmap builds on the foundational elements of those infrastructures, while identifying and prioritizing the technology-enablers that need to be further developed to help all verticals become an integral part of how Smart Cities function.

Some of the enabling technologies include the following:


By embracing virtualization within its networks, cities will be able to build a more flexible architecture that is programmable and automated, elastic and dynamic, as well as open and interoperable.

Multi-Access Edge Computing

Allows Smart Cities to push logic and control to the edge of the network and down to where their assets reside. This provides a higher-bandwidth, lower-latency environment, providing better performance for mission-critical and time-critical applications.

Big Data Analytics

As Smart Cities implement sensors and monitoring equipment, the amount of data being collected will be massive. As such, Smart Cities will likely implement data analytics to process this information and determine if it is actionable and adds value to both the end user and the city itself.

Hybrid Cloud Architectures

Allows Smart Cities to use cloud infrastructure for new applications, while maintaining existing in-house infrastructure in support of the legacy on premise systems across multiple verticals.  Using robust APIs, cities will ensure that services implemented in the cloud can work together in the future.

Why does this matter?

The planning and development cycle for Smart Cities is long and will most likely require a migration of its current legacy network solutions towards Smart City solutions. As such, it is critical that cities make the right investment in the right technology at the right time.

ATIS’ Smart Cities Technology Roadmap, based on input from key technology companies that have extensive experience in both network evolution and smart city implementation, offers a comprehensive view around technology development. It provides city planners with greater confidence in the sustainability of their initial investment, as well as guidance (and associated timing) around technology evolution. This component is key as city managers in early Smart Cities deployments have often discovered that new technologies, while promising, were not always ready for prime time.

The Roadmap provides city planners with an accurate view of network-enabled developments that will advance future services and applications, facilitate integrated services and opportunities, as well as help to create new revenue opportunities and a tangible ROI for our growing cities.

Mike Nawrocki, Vice President of Technology and Solutions, ATIS
As Vice President of Technology and Solutions, Mike Nawrocki focuses on strategic initiatives to advance ATIS members’ business and technology priorities. Bringing extensive telecommunications strategy experience and a service provider perspective, Mike provides ATIS direction on emerging technology trends as well as next generation technologies and networks. Before ATIS, he served as Director – Standards for Verizon Technology, and previously, as principal technologist in Verizon’s CTO organization. His extensive career with major service providers includes working in network planning and engineering positions at Verizon and AT&T Bell Labs. Mike has previously served on the MoCA Board of Directors and participated on FCC working groups, including the Technological Advisory Council, CSRIC and Network Reliability Council. At ATIS, he serves as a key policy interface with the FCC and other agencies. Mike holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering – Communications from the George Washington University School of Engineering & Applied Science. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.