The Task Force, led by CCC Council Member Ben Zorn from Microsoft Research and Shwetak Patel from University of Washington, is looking at core research challenges that the Internet of Things (IoT) presents. This whitepaper, led by Klara Nahnahrstedt from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, highlights the benefits and challenges of cyber-technologies within “Smart Cities”, especially the IoT for smart communities, which means considering the benefits and challenges of IoT cyber-technologies on joint smart cities physical infrastructures and their human stakeholders.
Their recommendations are summarized below:
There is a major urgency of funding of Computer Science (CS) basic research, development and deployment to develop novel IoT solutions and their related cyberinfrastructures for Smart Communities. The USA funding in the area of Smart Cities and Smart Communities could use a major boost in funding similar to Europe and Singapore. The New York Times article “Old World, New Tech: Europe Remains Ahead of U.S. in Creating Smart Cities”  points out that Europe remains ahead of USA in creating smart cities. For example, the project “The Humble Lamppost” is on the way with 30 Million Euro investment from the European Investment Bank to fund smart lampposts across EU Cities . In Singapore, the National Research Foundation’s Early-Stage Venture Funding Scheme announced $39 million co-funding of startups, on the private front, in 2013, venture capital invested a total of $1.71 billion in Singapore tech firms .
There is a major urgency of increased funding to develop partnerships between cities and academic and industrial partners towards establishing IoT-experimental zones and testbeds, integrations of existing IoT infrastructures and developments of new joint IoT cyber-infrastructures. The current investment towards building partnerships via the NSF Big Data Regional Hubs (BD Hubs) is a great starting point, but the funding is very small since the BD Hubs serve not only the creation of datarelated partnerships for smart communities but also the creation of partnerships for other data-related societal challenges.
There is a major urgency of continuous funding to keep the embedded IoT cyberinfrastructures within Smart Communities up-to-date, secure and follow up with the innovations coming from IoT RD&D efforts. This is an important point and one that is quite different from many other kinds of computer science research funding. Many dimensions of the IoT solutions, which have to last decades and exist in the presence of constant technology changes, are different from traditional CS funding model. For example, the deployed IoT cyber-infrastructures for smart grid will need to last for the next 5-10 years to keep the cost of electric utility service feasible for majority of citizens. This aspect of funding is often forgotten and not planned for, causing disruptions in city services as the dependences on IoT cyber-infrastructures increase!
To learn more, please read the entire whitepaper.