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Why Smart Cities Need Cloud Services

As municipal needs get more sophisticated, more cities turn to cloud services.

Want a smart city without cloud services? Good luck with that.

The cloud approach, in which providers outside city government deliver a technological platform for gathering and mining data and producing city applications over the public Internet or a virtual private network, has become the favored means for municipalities to move to the next level.

"While it's possible for cities to enable smart technology without using cloud-based services, it's unlikely you will be able to do so in any meaningful way," wrote Brian Robinson on GCN last month.

Why is this? Why can't cities just get smarter without any involvement with cloud services? A closer look turns up several reasons.

For one thing, most city networks aren't equipped to work with real-time input from sensors, smartphones, electric and water meters, or other sources of input about the functions of cities. Doing so requires specialized hardware and software to gather data, as well as applications to make sense of it. That calls for a lot of expertise that usually isn't in a city CIO's bag of tricks.

Cloud suppliers, on the other hand, are typically in a position to forge the alliances required to get sensors and other real-time data sources to work with city applications. They have to, after all, in order to offer services that are widely marketable.

Read the rest of this article on Future Cities.