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A New Smart-City Cloud Platform in Boston

The project is a collaborative effort to develop cloud-based smart-city services that will improve quality of life for Boston residents.

A new cloud-based smart city system being developed in Boston could be a model for other state and local governments.

The project is called SCOPE, and it stands for Smart-city Cloud-based Open Platform & Eco-system. Boston University’s Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering is spearheading the project in collaboration with several private-sector firms and multiple state and local agencies, including Massachusetts’ lead agency for technology — MassIT — and the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization.

SCOPE’s primary goal is to “develop and implement smart-city services that aim to improve the quality of urban life,” Boston University said in a news release. The program may offer environmental services for monitoring green house gas emissions, transportation and mobility services to help reduce traffic congestion, and public safety and security services for making data-driven decisions about dispatching police officers, coordinating public works schedules and providing other city services.

“Today’s cities are increasingly being challenged to respond to diverse needs of their citizens, to prepare for major environmental changes, to improve urban quality of life and to foster economic development,” Azer Bestavros, director of the Hariri Institute and SCOPE’s principal investigator, said in a statement. “So-called ‘smart cities’ are closing these gaps through the use of technology to connect people with resources, to guide changes in collective behavior, and to foster innovation and economic growth.”

To develop smart city services, the university will build on its existing projects. One of the projects underway is exploring the use of sensor networking for traffic light control applications, and another is “fusing data from multiple sources for route planning and public works scheduling,” the university noted. The SCOPE project received more than $1 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and its industry partners.

No single company can accomplish a smart city on their own — we need to approach this opportunity collaboratively — with city government as leader, citizens at the center, technology as an enabler and private sector partners to help make the vision a reality,” Laurent Vernerey, president and CEO of Schneider Electric’s North America operations, said in a statement. “We see the SCOPE project as an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how these stakeholders can work together to develop innovative services intended to deliver substantial value to the people who live and work in the City of Boston and Massachusetts.”

Cloud-Based Smart City Services

Services developed under the SCOPE project will be offered through the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC). TechCrunch describes MOC as an “ad-hoc infrastructure marketplace” where consumers can negotiate the services they need from multiple infrastructure vendors. Cisco, Intel, Juniper and Red Hat are among the companies involved with the MOC project.

The project is being housed at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, Mass. Systems integrators and aggregators and resellers will likely serve as intermediaries for the MOC to broker cloud services for paying customers.

In describing the underlying architecture for the MOC, Bestavros said it “allows many partners, not just a single provider, to compete and cooperate on the same cloud infrastructure, effectively creating a multisided cloud marketplace in which innovation can flourish in support of new applications that are currently underserved by prevailing public cloud operators.”

Oct 15 2014