Designing for smarter cities with mixed reality

How can we promote collaborative governance and urban sustainability when planning for the cities of the future?

We believe that mixed reality offers interesting opportunities to engage citizens who are normally excluded from the planning process, and whose participation is important to foster urban sustainability.

Many contemporary urban challenges are best understood as complex. This means that they are often a confusing mess of interrelated problems which are difficult to define and are often disputed. This is why it is absolutely crucial for cities to promote citizen participation in urban planning. Citizen participation is important in order to mobilize knowledge, innovation and support for solving some of the most pressing sustainability issues of our age. Yet in reality urban planning often lags behind urbanization and lacks effective means of collaborating with citizens.

This is why we have decided to take on the challenge of thinking creatively around how ICT could foster citizen participation in urban planning and ultimately urban sustainability. By merging virtual and real world objects to produce new environments and virtualizations, mixed reality presents yet unexplored opportunities to build urban sustainability.

We have therefore developed a number of concepts for a mixed reality platform which could support any city to plan for the future.

The concepts present ways to visualize a city as it looks today as well as future urban plans, including buildings, parks or infrastructure that are not there today but might be so in the future. Equally important they present ways for citizens to explore alternative futures and urban data, including impacts of existing urban plans on dynamic elements like traffic, noise, air quality, services, and so on. As we think that connectivity is a precondition for radical innovation we have also tried to visualize how such a platform could support communication and collaboration among various stakeholders.

Based on field research, we think that mixed reality could help citizens to overcome some of the high barriers associated with citizen participation. By dissolving time and space mixed reality can enable people with difficulties to be present at a certain location and time to participate in urban planning. Families with young children or people with restricted mobility are example of groups whose participation could be supported. Certainly mixed reality presents interesting opportunities to foster engagement among youth. Supporting their participation is important for a number of reasons, not least to enable inter-generational dialogue and to foster young people’s self-esteem by reinforcing their sense of being an important part of their communities. It is therefore intriguing to ponder how mixed reality could create an enabling environment for participatory behavior, making it easier, cheaper and faster for citizens to engage with planning issues.


What will the cities of future looks like?

As we at Ericsson want our stakeholders to use our technology in ways that support democratic stewardship of cities, it is interesting to note that mixed reality can allow every individual to speak about his or her desires for the future (provided citizens have the digital skills required). We believe that when provided a safe space to speak, the self-confidence to participate in urban planning can increase.

New digital technologies like mixed reality also create ample opportunities to strengthen the transparency of urban planning. While this can enhance two-way communication and install an impetus for improved accountability, it can also empower citizens to make informed choices. This could help to improve the quality of citizen dialogues as well as decisions making to produce outcomes that are more likely to contribute to sustainable development.

Based on our research we therefore believe that mixed reality can enable new interesting interactions between cities and citizens, and support collaborative sense-making of urban challenges. While this could have a profound impact on inclusiveness and help to improve the representativeness of the planning process, it could also strengthen cities’ problem-solving capacity and responsiveness to complex urban challenges.

Multifaceted information and collaborative governance have to be recognized as key resources when designing and managing our cities. Looking ahead this will certainly be crucial to legitimize and create public support for smart city adoption.


Autors: Anna ViggedalCristian NorlinFanny von HelandJoakim FormoMarcus Nyberg.

The Role of Smart Cities in Global Economy

With the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT), smart city technologies have made a dramatic impact on the prosperity of a region. Based on a global estimation by Cisco, we estimated roughly for Australia that the value of having an IoT infrastructure is worth around $5 trillion dollars to the smart cities. The potential revenue of smart cities depends upon increased efficiency and productivity, as well as reduces costs through the deployment of new technologies.

Smart city plays a vital role in global economy. In order for the societies to maintain the standard of their living and in order to raise the standard of those who have not reached it yet, it is essential to take significant amount of outlay out of the public sector structures that have built over the last 50-70 years, without losing the value that has already been obtained from them.  An over view of smart city verticals distribution in global market is illustrated below in Figure 1.


 From the economic perspective “smart city” is cost efficient, productive and reliable. With the deployment of IoT, smart cities can get new revenue opportunities but in general they are only a fraction of the overall that can be made. With IoT we can go much farther into such cost savings.

How revenue streams can be generated through smart cities verticals?

Smart cities will be more attractive to people, businesses and investors based upon the potential revenue generated by the smart cities. These cities will be more transparent and responsive towards the needs and requirements of smart businesses and investors. Consequently, in the emerging connected, sharing, digital economy, only smart cities will allow for the creation of new value-added jobs and businesses. From time to time huge number of people moves towards cities. In order to maintain their position among the competitors, cities have to compete with each other for people, businesses and investments. As a result, the truly smart cities will be winners and will be able to attract more investors and businesses.

In regard of smart city industry, no city in the world can claim to be the leading city in this domain. Probably there are thousands of examples in the leading cities around the globe. Specifically in Australia, it has very impressive scores on the board. Most cities around the globe have realized the potential of smart cities in economy, they are now developing strategic smart city plans in order to make economically viable smart city projects, a solid business reality.

What is City-as-a-Service model?

It has been concluded by considering the way people are adapting to smart phones, internet and apps that people are more than ready to live in smart cities. Smart city industry can help in generating commendable gains when we find the right investment and business models that allows us to generate potential revenue streams in a collaborative way between industry and public sector. The foundation of these models should be laid on city-as-a-service models, whereby cities will have to operate their smart city services based on an Operational Expenditure (OPEX) rather than Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) model.

Key words:  #potential revenue of smart cities, #role of smart cities in economy, #smart cities business market, #smart cities industry

About Author:

Dr. Hafiz Yasar Lateef – one of the founding members of TelXperts – has several years of experience on Smart Cities and Internet of Things (IoT). He is a Member of IEEE Communications Society and frequently features as a keynote speaker at various international conferences and workshops. His expertise encompass Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, LTE radio network planning and optimization, Small cells & DAS planning & Optimization, Self-Organizing Networks (SON) and Green cellular networks. Dr. Hafiz Yasar Lateef’s Biography has been featured on Bristol Who’s Who famous personalities registry for his excellent research work in the field of Telecommunication. His work on the areas of MIMO techniques for wireless networks, Green Cellular Networks and Self-Organizing cellular networks have already found their way into telecommunication standards. He has authored and co-authored numerous international journals and conference papers in the field of LTE/LTE-Advanced wireless networks.

Dr. Yasar holds a Doctorate degree in the field of Telecommunications from University of Leeds, UK. He has participated in various international projects on future wireless networks in collaboration with ZTE Corporation, Texas A&M, Politecnico Di Torino Italy, King’s College London, CTTC Spain and CCSR University of Surrey. In the past, he held various roles at ZTE Corporation, University of Leeds, UK, University of Bedfordshire, UK, Qatar University, QMIC and Texas A&M, Curtin University, Australia.