Mutiny Blog

Monitoring Our Smart Cities: Just how smart are we?

The concept of the smart city is one of the hottest technology topics of the day. From governments to economists and analysts to enthusiasts, divergent opinions have been offered on the eventual state of the urban digital utopia. There is, more or less, a consensus on objectives:


  • An enhanced day-to-day living experience for the consumer
  • Operational efficiency for businesses and public services
  • Financial savings
  • Reduced greenhouse emissions


The utilities sector will see enhanced monitoring and control of energy consumption across the grid and will shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar-powered community energy banks. In our everyday lives smart roads and motorways will keep traffic moving and smarter cars will tell us the most efficient routes to travel. We will even be working in smarter buildings which monitor their temperatures and track energy use to increase efficiency.

Market growth

Smart CitiesAccording to a 2015 Markets and Markets report, the global smart cities market will grow from $411 billion in 2014 to $1,135 billion by 2019. Gartner estimates there will be 1.6 billion connected things used by smart cities in 2016, an increase of 39 per cent from 2015. By 2018, the number of smart home devices will grow to reach 1.07 billion as consumers invest in connected devices such as TVs, thermostats and bulbs.

With smart technology reaching every aspect of people’s lives the potential for smart cities to enhance the way we live and work are clear. But so is the potential for disruption and disaster if they are not properly managed.

Monitoring technology will play a pivotal role in the management of these disparate systems as the era of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) moves closer. This technology will enable fast reactions to problems, ensuring security, efficiency and continued performance.

Monitoring as a critical part of smart infrastructure

  • Security – Avoiding disruption:

    Imagine a scenario where a smart motorway is hacked and speed limits changed, a situation where an office building’s environmental controls are compromised and the temperatures increased to lethal levels, or a situation where hackers cut the power to vital systems in sewage treatment plants. The consequences are unthinkable both for human life, and business success. Monitoring is crucial to detecting unusual activity on networks and stopping these attacks.

  • Speed – Ensuring quick reactions:

    Speed in modern networks and especially in the new connected world is paramount. Take smart motorways as an example. Real time information is vital to ensure that road signs and other devices can react to control the traffic. A slow reacting network of signs and speed limits reduce this ability. Monitoring network performance, hardware and software states ensures that the required speeds can be achieved and reported upon, failed hardware bypassed quickly and issues resolved, keeping things moving.

  • Keeping smart buildings efficient:

    The emergence of smart offices has the potential to revolutionise the workplace by enabling the sharing of information and as well as controlling the environment. For example, intelligent office and public buildings will eventually become responsive to real-time demands for temperature, power and water.

    In this regard the correct monitoring of the environment and power consumption is key to allocation of these resources effectively.


Going forward

The UK has a smart city agenda towards which the Chancellor of the Exchequer pledged £140 million in the last budget, £40 million of which will be in R&D type investment into technologies in healthcare, social care and smart cities.

There are still sceptics in the IT industry given the IoT budget stands at just 0.1 per cent of the spend on the UK’s on-going broadband infrastructure re-vamp. The infrastructure that is needed to interconnect them is complex, needs to be planned, designed, deployed and maintained. Existing, traditional infrastructure needs to be upgraded across the board, with many businesses and industries simply not prepared.

One thing we are sure about at Mutiny is that whatever technologies these networks are built upon, the monitoring and quick reaction to issues will be what keeps the systems running at their optimum. 

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