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.

How Smart Transportation can revolutionize Smart Cities?

smart transportation

World population is increasing rapidly. Due to this tremendous rise in population, the cities all around the world are facing complex challenges regarding urban infrastructure planning, governance, and transportation infrastructure. Airports, railways, ports, bridges, mass transits, highways and the networks that they are connected to, then all form infrastructure of the transportation. Commuters now prefer public transportation like rails and buses over roads.

In order to facilitate the customers, the public transportation systems and the station hubs are improved. Full connectivity is what the customer demands, therefore, transportation system should ensure that devices and people should be connected to the network. However, as the number of devices connected to the transportation ecosystems increases, the probability of cyber-attack also increases, making the transportation ecosystem more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. An illustration of vehicle-to-vehicle transportation is shown in Figure 1 below.

smart transportation

Figure 1: A visual representation of vehicle-to-vehicle communication in smart cities.

Internet of Everything (IoE) aims to bring digital revolution by deploying smart roads, smart rails, smart buses, smart airports and smart pots globally. Enhancements in the smart transportation systems will result in high mobility along with an improved and secured transportation services for the people. Transport system administrators and organization are adopting digital strategies which will help in the provision of quality transportation services, improved productivity, enhanced passenger experience and will also help in generating good revenue changing.

The smart transportation system is evolving day by day to provide seamless passenger services. Smart transportation is aiming to implement cutting edge technologies like electric mobility, car sharing, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), and a system based on a demand-response approach in order to optimize the whole transportation system.

If you want to go for a vacation you do not have to fret about anything. Just pack your stuff and head towards the airport. As you are going towards the airport you observe that the traffic on the road is organized. It is because the transportation authorities are continuously monitoring the traffic and are attentive to keep traffic organized and ensure transits run smoothly. Like Utah’s Department Transportation, they deployed some digital transformation in the typical methodology in order to improve the infrastructure planning process and management of the highways.

As our digital citizen is heading towards the airport in his car, he gets an alert on his smartphone about the slow traffic ahead, which is because of a construction project already planned. Our digital citizen would not have to worry as he can switch from the route through mapped view of the construction site and seamlessly go ahead. Like other eighty percent of drivers in Texas, our digital citizen was also delighted with the anticipatory notifications that made him able for proactive traffic avoidance.

While our digital citizen arrived at the airport, the most dreadful part is yet to come which is, to wait in long queues at the checking points and counters for hours. Except the digital citizen, he doesn’t have to worry. Some airports like Copenhagen Airport are deploying smart technology to continuously watch and avoid passenger congestion, allowing more time to relax instead of waiting for their turn in the long queues. An example of IoT applications implemented at an airport is shown in the figure below.


Figure 2: Role of IoT applications at world’s biggest travel hubs.

Following smooth and a serene flight, our digital citizen has reached the holiday spot. He hops on the train, to reach his final destination.

Some cities like Dubai, are implementing digital strategies to fulfil the increasing transport requirements as with each passing day a large number of people are turning towards public transportation. Our citizen didn’t face any inconvenience like accidents and other complications. Advanced systems are deployed to avoid accidents via vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure. He is feeling relaxed as the smart transportation system is reliable and clean trains, simple ticketing procedures and has plentiful timetables. Upon reaching the final destination like other 90 percent of Seoul tourists, our digital customer is pleased with his overall travel experience.

Cities around the world are now looking for ways to fulfil their transportation requirements and expanding their transportation networks in order to enhance their corporation and interconnection. This development is making public transportation as well as mass transits, main artery of the smart cities technology, which aims to improve quality of life of the residents in parallel with supporting economic development, attracting business and workforce talent.

In short, smart transportation is considered a key factor against the challenges faced by the urban planners and city infrastructure planners to fulfil the requirements of the increasing number of mega cities in both developed and developing cities around the globe in order to maintain safety and smooth traffic flow.

To further know about Application of Smart Transportation in Smart Cities, Challenges, and Smart Transportation Technologies, you can join our Smart Cities Essential Courses here.

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.