ABI Research connects the smart home with the smart city

Firm recently published report on how the smart home fits into the smart city
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Friday, June 8, 2018

LONDON—ABI Research recently published “The Emerging Role for Smart Homes in the Smart City,” a report that examines areas of overlap between smart homes and smart cities and the potential for interaction between the two.

“We are seeing more interest in both these markets and … the interaction between them is starting to expand,” Jonathan Collins, research director for ABI and author of the report, told Security Systems News. “We’re talking about … where the data feed from a connected home or a smart home can then be leveraged by a wider system.”

According to Collins, “By 2022 a global install base of nearly 300 million smart homes will put smart home providers in the position to provide a ready data source for smart city applications. Current smart city projects typically address applications including transportation, healthcare provision, environmental management and more. Increasingly, smart home providers are showing they can deliver similar functionality by adding additional application capabilities for their smart home customer base.”

He added, “By 2022, ABI Research forecasts that nearly half (125 million) of those homes will be integrated into some smart city program.” The U.S. will be between 40 and 45 percent of that worldwide install base by 2022, he said.

Collins pointed to energy management as an example; it is a driver for the smart home market and utilities could benefit from data gathered on energy consumption to better structure themselves. Smart home companies are delivering this information as opposed to utilities being involved in the market directly, he noted.

For this report, ABI looked at six areas where the smart home and the smart city overlap. Energy management was one, electric vehicle charging stations and microgrids was another—“It’s not just managing how energy is consumed, but it’s also how energy is, in fact, generated and passed around,” Collins said.

Smart grids, with connected thermostats providing data to utilities, is the biggest area of overlap between smart homes and smart cities currently, according to Collins. 

“We looked at video surveillance, another area of smart city investment,” he continued. “Increasingly, there are video cameras going into smart home set ups or home security set ups and that’s a rich data feed that could eventually feed into smart city applications.”

Companies like Vivint and Ring are enabling smart home camera feeds to be shared among a community, Collins noted, adding that camera coverage of an area previously was only thought of as a smart city concept. “Now these cameras can actually provide a base to either fill out that coverage or be used as a resource, either between users in real time or perhaps as a way of gathering evidence after an event,” he said.

Smart parking was another topic for the report. “Traffic management is obviously another key part of smart city projects. Just as you’ve seen the rise of Airbnb impacting the hotel industry, so there’s that potential for crowdsourced parking to play a role in traffic management and parking management within a city.”

ABI looked into home health care monitoring. “Health care is an issue that affects smart city programs. It certainly affects the expenditure within a region or a state or a city, and that’s another area where there is that link to smart home capabilities [that] can be leveraged,” Collins said.

The report also covered smart bins and environmental sensors, Collins noted.

Of the areas covered in the report, smart health care monitoring is poised to be the next largest connection between smart homes and smart cities—after smart grids, Collins said.

What are some factors helping to expand the connection between smart homes and smart cities? “The continuing growth of smart home devices and the awareness around smart home devices and their potential,” Collins said.

Conversely, a lack of awareness around the potential between smart homes and smart cities could hinder the interaction between the two areas, according to Collins. “They’re two very separated markets, certainly as supply channels go. One is very consumer focused, the other one is very much dealing on different engagement levels, dealing with large organizations and very wide spread aspects.”

He continued, “Alongside awareness there needs to be details around how that data is shared, how that data is used, how that data is recompensed.”

It’s “early days” for this collaboration, outside of the thermostat connection, said Collins. “Smart home providers themselves need to understand that the platforms that they’re delivering to look after a range of devices in the homes can be expanded to additional functionality.”

He added, “We’re seeing smart home providers start to understand the value of their customer bases, or they understand how the systems they are supporting are of wider use.”

Collins highlighted the role of smart home providers in the continued or expanded collaboration with smart cities. “I imagine we will see this built up very much by the smart home providers first and then when there becomes an understanding and a level of penetration that can draw these smart cities projects in, they will do so.”