Market Insight

From hardware to services: partnerships enable smart city expansion

September 13, 2017  | Subscribers Only

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The smart city market continues to grow supported by the initiatives of multiple companies. The two recent news announcements of HPE partnering with PwC and of Philips Lighting partnering with American Tower Corporation show the role of partnerships as enablers of smart city growth. These development show the depth of the smart city market, where partnerships can unlock value for companies across the whole value chain from original equipment manufacturers (OEM), to service providers. While the two announcements set difference focus regions and have different targets, similarities appear in the targeted verticals as well as in the wider goal to support the development of smart cities beyond individual categories.

HPE and PwC expands partnership to power future cities

  • The two companies will jointly create a New Center of Excellence in Kolkata (India).
  • Data is the key to be used to improve cities operations.

HPE and PwC announced the extension of their existing partnership with the creation of a New Center of Excellence in Kolkata, India, to speed up the creation and development of smart cities. The two companies target improvements in how cities’ authorities optimise their existing assets and provide citizens’ centric services.

Our Analysis

The two companies want to focus on the need to leverage data and information generated across multiple devices and applications. To this end, PwC will use HPE Universal IoT platform to test and manage smart city initiatives. The existence of internal boundaries and the lack of communication is a common problem in smart cities. This challenge was identified as one of the cities’ main challenges in launching smart city projects in the results of our 2016 survey conducted in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayor.

HPE Universal IoT platform has features common to many platforms which want to succeed in the smart city market, such as being agnostic to connectivity or device, being modular, and open to third parties. As per the agreement, HPE and PwC will work to enable advanced analytics and machine learning innovation. On top of HPE Universal IoT Platform PwC will positon its applications and dashboard. The first use cases currently under development include mobility and transport, environmental monitoring, and waste management.

  • Smart poles located in Kolkata will be equipped with multiple devices including sensors and cameras to collect environmental data.
  • Devices will be connected and use to collect traffic related data and to model traffic conditions. The data will be integrated with GPS generated data from the transit management system to provide estimated arrival times buses. Smart parking will also be deployed.
  • Waste bin will be equipped with sensors to measure the level of garbage within each bin, allowing collectors to optimise their collection routes depending on what bins need to be picked up. Collectors’ vehicles will also be equipped with GPS devices and RFID readers for route optimisation.

Data generated by these solutions will be used by the city to improve its emergency response as well as other city operations.

The partnership has a sound foundation as it fits well with the two companies’ positioning within smart cities.  HPE through its Universal IoT platform has a horizontal approach focusing on the mid layer of the market (software) while PwC’s focus is on the applications and services which are built on top of a smart city platform.

The first use cases in development are in line with IHS Markit views of the market. Physical infrastructure (environmental monitoring and smart waste) and mobility and transport (intelligent transport system and smart parking) are the leading smart city vertical categories globally. As of the second quarter of 2017 physical infrastructure and mobility and transport counted on 218 projects each. Together the two categories represented 52.8% of total smart city projects. Within the Asia Pacific region the two categories accounted for 49.8% of total projects (217).

The decision of create the Center in Kolkata (India) is a clear move by the two companies to target the fast-growing Indian market. India’s smart city market has been boosted by the country’s Smart City Mission and Challenge launched in 2015 with the aim to create 100 smart cities. By providing successful use cases which are well-fitted for the local market, the two companies want to showcase their ability to deliver winning solution in India. As of the second quarter of 2017 the Indian market accounted for 14.3% of total APAC projects.


HPE is focusing on partnerships to win in the smart city market. In June 2017, the company announced that the partnership with Tata Communications (announced in February 2017) to build a LoRaWAN network started delivering results in the form of the deployment of a LoRaWAN based Integrated City Management in Jamshedpur, India, to integrate, manage and run multiple applications including street lighting and parking.

Philips Lighting and American Tower Corporation create alliance to expand smart cities in the United States

  • Centrepiece of the alliance is the development of a smart pole equipped with network infrastructure to improve network coverage along with wirelessly connected LED street lights.
  • The pole will be able to support capacity and coverage needs of multiple operators.

The smart pole is a combined structure which includes telecommunications equipment, antennas, and radios as well as a connected street lighting. The smart pole can accommodate multiple carriers and can also accommodate different configurations from various major OEMs.

Our Analysis

The smart pole being developed by Philips Lighting and American Tower Corporation is 4G/5G enabled and is to be deployed across cities to improve coverage and wireless broadband access in dense areas while also working as a smart street lighting pole.

By blending into existing cityscapes the pole will seamlessly bring the smart city within the urban environment. Carriers can install 4G (later 5G) small cell radio equipment into the pole thanks to a plug and play design. Ensuring an easy upgrade to the upcoming 5G technology is a needed step to secure that the smart pole will be attractive for operators beyond 2020 with the deployment of 5G.

This announcement feeds on the growing demand for connectivity as increasing smartphone use and media usage is driving up consumers’ data consumption. Leveraging these smart poles, wireless carriers can strengthen and densify their network gaining access to sites which could otherwise be inaccessible to them given their central position in densely populated areas and the need for deployment permits.

Besides being equipped with connectivity infrastructure, the pole also works as a smart street light. With the connected lighting running on Philips CityTouch connected light management system, additional sensors and devices can be added to the lighting pole thus supporting other applications such as environmental monitoring or smart parking.

With the quality of network becoming a key differentiator for operators, being able to strengthen their coverage and network quality in key densely populated areas will be increasingly valuable for operators. The pole will attract operators to join into smart city projects. Bringing an additional player that can improve its core business as part of a smart city solution will strengthen the business model of the solution itself.

The partnership’s focus is in the United States smart city market given American Tower Corporation leading position in this market. However, we expect this product to move across regions, prioritising those markets where increasing data consumption requires operators to improve their network experience. As of the second quarter of 2017, the United States are the leading smart city market globally counting on 188 projects and representing 74.6% of the Americas market. 

For further information about IHS Markit Smart Cities and IoT Research please contact IHS Markit Smart Cities IoT Lead Analyst Pablo Tomasi at [email protected]

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