Migrating Smart City Applications to the Cloud

This article is written by:

Michael Vögler and Johannes M. Schleicher of Technische Universität Wien

Christian Inzinger of University of Zurich

Schahram Dustdar of Technische Universität Wien

Rajiv Ranjan of Newcastle University

Smart city” has emerged as an umbrella term for the pervasive implementation of information and communication technologies (ICT) designed to improve various areas of today’s cities. Areas of focus include citizen well-being, infrastructure, industry, and government. Smart city applications operate in a dynamic environment with many stakeholders that not only provide data for applications, but can also contribute functionality or impose (possibly conflicting) requirements. Currently, the fundamental stakeholders in a smart city are energy and transportation providers, as well as government agencies, which offer large amounts of data about certain aspects (for example, public transportation) of a city and its citizens.


Increasingly, stakeholders deploy connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices that deliver large amounts of near-real-time data and can enact changes in the physical environment. Efficient management of these large volumes of data is challenging, especially since data gathered by IoT devices might have critical security and privacy requirements that must be honored at all times. Nevertheless, this presents a significant opportunity to closely integrate stakeholders and data from different domains to create new applications that can tackle the increasingly complex challenges of today’s cities, such as autonomous traffic management, efficient building management, and emergency response systems.


Currently, smart city applications are usually deployed on premises. Cloud computing has matured to a point where practitioners are increasingly comfortable with migrating their existing smart city applications to the cloud to leverage its benefits (such as dynamic resource provisioning and cost savings). However, future smart city applications must also be able to operate across cities to create a global, interconnected system of systems for the future Internet of Cities.1 Therefore, such applications have to be designed, implemented, and operated as cloud-native applications, allowing them to elastically respond to changes in request load, stakeholder requirements, and unexpected changes in the environment.


Here, we outline our recent work on the smart city operating system (SCOS), a central element of future smart city application ecosystems. The SCOS is designed to resemble a modern computer operating system, providing unified abstractions for underlying resources and management tasks, but specifically tailored to city scale. We present the specific foundations of SCOS that enable a larger smart city application ecosystem,2 allowing stakeholders and citizens to create applications within the smart city domain. This approach enables them to build applications by only focusing on their specific demand, while completely freeing them from the complexities and problems they’re currently facing.


Read more at https://www.computer.org/cms/Computer.org/ComputingNow/issues/2016/07/mcd2016020072.pdf

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