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This blog was co-written by: Joerg Ferchow, Barbara Fluegge, Edina Sewell & Dante Ricci


Are you constantly hearing about smart cities but want to understand what a “Smart City” is and why you should care? 

The term Smart City is just an umbrella term for using new digital technological capabilities that can be used by city officials, citizens and businesses to better connect, understand and react more effectively.

To clear show how a Smart City of the Future can use digital technology to improve life, SAP built a 3D city model with very realistic ways our lives will change due to the new capabilities digital technology can “smartify the community”.


The Smart Cities Showcase gave visitors a clear understanding of how new digital technologies like cloud, data analytics, machine learning, augmented reality, mobile, blockchain and the internet of things can work together to shape life in a future city. It also helped visitors internalize how the organization they work for could use digital technologies to reimagine new ways to help the constituents they serve.


The interactive showcase was made available to attendees at the annual SAP SAPPHIRE event in Orlando and will be available at other events this year.  We would love for to come experience the showcase and give us your point of view.

We showcased three scenarios:

  1. Mobility - Getting from point A to point B in and around cities

  2. Secure transaction models based on Blockchain

  3. Crisis prevention and mitigation

Here is a short video about the showcase at SAPPHIRE.   Below is a snapshot of each scenario we incorporated into the 3D city model we produced.

Mobility - On-demand mobility has become a commodity in a very short amount of time. The impact is causing a ripple effect across many industries. Today everybody understands the change that Uber brought to the transportation industry.  Our showcase scenario extended this recent impact a step further by exemplifying how self-driving cars will use machine learning to become “a self-learning system” of its own”  and how it can go mainstream for both the movement of people and goods in and around a city.  Attendees saw how machine learning and big data can help predict demand for transportation with unfathomable accuracy.

Imagine a self-driving, electric car picks you up exactly at the right time, based on your preference and previous behavior including your appointment calendar, the weather, traffic conditions and other factors. The car will simply ping you with an estimated arrival time; when it’s there and when it’s time to leave. And not only will it be the right time, but the right car, depending on your needs. A four-seater with enough room for the family and everything you need for the weekend trip, or a small, nimble city car to take you to the office during the week. The car already knows your destination, your preferred route and when you need to be there, leaving you with nothing to worry about.  Commute time, will be reclaimed for productivity or recreational purposes. Your automated car will automatically monitor traffic conditions utilizing machine learning and AI. Once you arrive at the office, you just get out.  No parking, no paying, no signature for a driver. Just leave and you’re all set. You arrive quicker, more relaxed, safer and by sharing vehicles at a much lower cost than you did in the past..

Imagine an economic sharing model that will assist in the movement of both goods and people…  shared vehicles, drones, helicopters and boats never sitting idle…  moving both goods and people at the same time seamlessly.  This is vastly different from today’s models, which are limited in scale and adaptability due to their closed nature.


Secure transaction models - Blockchain offers a reliable, low-cost way for financial or operational transactions to be recorded and validated across a distributed network with no central point of authority.   Attendees discovered how peer-to-peer, business to consumer, business to business transactions can track and confirm delivery or complete payments using a network of computers to maintain collective bookkeeping via the internet.  Bookkeeping is neither closed nor in control of one party. Rather, it is available in one digital ledger which is fully distributed across the network.

Attendees learned how property taxes, utility bills, and waste management could be handled by blockchain transactions connected to a house managed as a digital twin in blockchain. This could work for any supplier, be it a utilities company, business or home owner that shares energy through a charging station.


Crisis Prevention and Mitigation - Recent advances in digital technology have provided substantial improvements to prevent and mitigate crisis situations. Any crisis in a big city quickly creates a complex chain of events that need to be handled simultaneously or in quick succession. Big Data, predictive analytics and Machine Learning are critical in foreseeing and planning for a crisis.  We showed stakeholder’s how they could  gain insight from vast amounts of data through predictive analytics augmented with machine learning to find patterns that previously went undetected due to the sheer amount of data.  Attendees learned how machine learning could be utilized to analyze publicly posted images on social media to identify disaster areas very quickly and accurately.


If you want to learn more about SAP’s perspective and solutions on Smart Cities visit our Future Cities web page.

We hope you take some time to give us your perspective on how digital technologies will be used in the city of the future.  Please look through the questions below and provide your answers to any questions you would like in the blog comments section below.   

  • Do you think Blockchain will become a mainstream option for company to company or company to government transactions?

  • Will machine learning bring together insights to truly change the way we make decisions?

  • How can data driven organizations improve citizens and consumers lives?

  • How can digital technologies help organizations become more citizen and consumer centered?

  • How can digital technologies transform asset and infrastructure management?

  • How can the shared economy help enable economic growth?

  • What policy improvements are required to move forward without sacrificing data protection and privacy?

  • How is your organization establishing a coherent digital vision and a clearly articulated road map for digital transformation?

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