It’s hard not to be seduced by the promise of IoT, especially when set in a gleaming utopian cityscape animation. A sea of tiny sensors combining to anticipate and deliver precisely the right services at the very moment they are needed.  A less wasteful, more productive and ultimately more fulfilling way to live.

Back in the real world city authorities are just as excited about IoT, but they are looking at smart city projects in a much more pragmatic way - to serve their citizens better, to save tax-payers’ money and to reduce their environmental impact.  This revolution starts with proving incremental gains in specific applications, not building complex infrastructure looking for a problem to solve.

And that’s where the questions with IoT and smart cities begin, because many of the smart city pilots around the world are using transplanted existing technologies from generic mobile, and are simply not ready to support specific use cases.  They either cannot scale the number of sensors, or they consume too much power, or their business case relies on high volumes of mobile data, or they need a complex ecosystem of suppliers to operate.  Any one of these problems would be enough for a smart city project to fail to make commercial sense.

A different approach is to employ a mobile technology that is specifically suited to long range low power operation, then to build a solution that specifically meets the needs of a smart city vertical market, and finally to deliver it using a simple efficient business model.

That’s what Telensa has done in smart street lighting, deploying in millions across the world using its Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) radio technology, helping cities to save money and adapt to the needs of their citizens.  But more on that in a later post.  The point is that having proved the business case for mobile IoT in smart lighting, Telensa has now expanded into other city vertical solutions starting with smart parking - using the same UNB platform and a clear business case mandate.

And it looks like that’s how the real IoT is going to happen, one compelling vertical at a time.