Paul Budde, Managing Director, BuddeComm


Paul Budde, Managing Director, BuddeComm

I formed this company back in 1978. I have a marketing degree from the Institute of Marketing in the Netherlands, my focus is business strategies and government policies. As a special consultant to the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development, I am heavily involved in international developments such as FttH, mobile broadband, trans-sector use of infrastructure and the digital economy. I write most of the international analyses and also, of course, closely follow the markets in Australia and New Zealand.

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The smart city market moving towards 2018

Back in 2001 I initiated the very first smart city event in Australia. In all some 75 representatives of Australian local councils gathered in Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney.

The focus of that event was the broadbanding of local communities around the country. This was seen by the local councils as one of the most important elements needed to create a smart city.

Nothing much has changed since then. Now, more than 15 years later, broadband – in this case the NBN – is still very high on the agenda of local councils. Most council areas are now seeing an improvement in broadband access, but those who are unlucky enough to get only the fibre-to-the-node version will continue to have a broadband headache for the next decade or so, until that old technology is finally replaced with a proper fibre-based network.

Strategic developments

In the meantime, however, the smart city discussion has moved on, and over the last two years in particular the discussion has become far more sophisticated.

Apart from digital infrastructure a range of other issues has come to the fore: climate change/sustainability, smart energy, transport/mobility, affordable housing, healthcare, education, migration and refugees. All of these issues are, first and foremost, felt in the cities and local communities around the country.

But there is a massive disconnect since most of the policies in relation to the above are formulated by politicians in Canberra, where partisan politics, indecisiveness and conflicting strategies are the norm. If one party develops a new policy according to a political perspective, the other party will object and even abolish whatever has been done when it comes into power. Communication, energy and climate change are prime examples of a total failure of policy-making at a federal level.

The funding structure for cities is another key problem area;  85% of the national taxes are flowing into the coffers of the federal government, 13% is going to the states, with a meagre 2% ending up with the cities. However, as mentioned, it is in the cities that all of those national, and indeed international, developments are coming together.

A lack of leadership, partly at federal and state level but also at a local council level, has led to what we have coined ‘death by pilot’. Millions of dollars have been largely wasted in small-scale pilots and projects, initiated by visionary and willing people who lack the support of solid strategy and leadership from the top. Most of these projects were successful, but in the absence of any ongoing strategic plan they were simply mothballed or terminated. None of these projects received the financial support to scale them up.

The smartest cities

However, over the last two years we have seen a major change. The leading smart cities in Australia, and indeed around the world, now have strategic plans in place; they have leadership support from the mayor (in relation to politics and communication with citizens and local businesses); and they have a smart council in place that works across silos under the leadership of the CEO/General Manager.

Out of the 500+ local councils in Australia only a handful have either reached that strategic stage or are close to it. These include Adelaide, Bendigo, Canberra, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay.

Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are also very much in favour of smart city strategies, but it is far more difficult for metropolitan cities, especially when they consist of a large number of individual local councils, to create a holistic smart city strategy. Sydney is trying to at least partly overcome this by means of the Greater Sydney Commission, which is in fact making significant progress in this direction.

Furthermore, around the country, there certainly are also a number of runners-up who have started smart city projects and who at a minimum understand that they will have to develop a strategic plan, and they have sound potential to grow into full-blown smart city strategies.

From the above it can be seen that it is the mid-tier cities that fit into the smart city sweet spot. It is much easier for these cities to develop holistic plans and strategies and engage effectively with their citizens.

Federal support

While there are serious problems with some the federal policy as mentioned above, at the same time one of the most successful policies launched by the current government has been its National Smart City Plan launched in 2016. It now has three City Deals on the table – Townsville, Launceston and Western City – as well as a Smart Communities and Suburbs program, with start-up or seeding money for councils that are providing strategically sound smart city plans and projects. It also has a program in place to assist local councils that still have to embark on a strategic mission toward smart cities.

While the money element is important, the fact that the federal government has shown leadership and put smart cities on the table has resulted in nearly all the local councils around the country starting their own discussions in relation to their own smart city journey.

The most important policy assistance the government can give is to solve the inflexible procurement and investment models under which cities are forced to operate. These work entirely against holistic strategies and collaboration models. It will be interesting to see if different funding models developed e.g. by Ipswich and Bendigo will provide positive examples on how we can proceed from here.

Collaboration is the key

During 2016 and 2017 I took the initiative to develop a collaboration model for smart cities. It is clear that cities on their own will not be able to develop smart cities. This requires business models and funding that will have to be supported by private industry, as well as being strongly supported by the R&D and university community – the latter especially in relation to standards, interoperability, data analytics, cyber security and privacy issues.

Furthermore there has to be effective collaboration between all three levels of government; this is also something strongly supported in the National Smart City Plan (and a key element of the City Deals). Under the umbrella of the Australian Smart Communities Association (ASCA) I have developed a Smart City Industry Board (30 companies), an R&D Group (12 universities), and organised the inaugural Smart City Mayors Meeting under the leadership of the Lord Mayor of Adelaide. The eight leading smart cities in Australia have also begun to investigate collaboration between themselves; the aim here is to learn from each other, share information and investigate joint projects.

 Last but not least, I have started with a plan to establish state-based platforms between the state governments and the leading smart communities and cities in each state to develop state-based policies and projects to push the movement deeper into the communities. ASCA itself has a strong membership base among local councils and Regional Development Australia organisations (RDAs). They are ideally positioned to stimulate collaboration.

Citizens are left, right and centre in any smart city

All of the above needs to be in place to enable a structural and strategic approach, but in the end the reason we want to build smart cities is to create better communities that are connected and empowered to participate in the digital society and economy; to create a community where people are happy and where they can see improvements to their lifestyle and to the liveability of their suburb, neighbourhood, community, town and city.

With the abovementioned structures in place cities are the right platform to allow empowered citizens to lead and participate in what their smart community should look like, to co-develop projects, and in general to create in-depth and ongoing engagement between local government and the citizens, as well as between citizens themselves. Smart cities based on innovation and collaboration are also going to provide the jobs of the future, which will mainly be based on efficient and effective SMEs and professional people.

The reality, however, is that without a smart council in place it is impossible to build a smart city that moves beyond the ‘death by pilot’ syndrome.

Building smart cities and communities will take decades. In fact, the process will never end – it will be ongoing. So it is never too late to start. However the early leaders will benefit from their foresight. People will increasingly base their decision about where they want to live and work on the issues that cities need to solve. These will be the flourishing cities of the future, so it is important that all cities and communities start on this journey and discuss how they would like their community to look in 5, 10 or 20 years’ time.

The collaborative structures that are now in place, in combination with the initiatives from the federal government, will see real advances for the smart city movement in 2018.

International collaboration

In parallel, I have also started on international collaboration. The eight leading cities in Australia have joined the Global Smart City and Community Coalition (GSC3). This alliance is bringing together cities all over the world that are working on similar projects, facing similar issues, or seeing similar opportunities. The aim is to launch collaborative projects on an international basis, which will help those involved to learn from each other, to share insights and outcomes, and even to develop joint projects where certain elements are tested in one city and others in another city.

All of these developments and all of the major initiatives that are currently taking place in Australia are covered in this report.

Paul Budde

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Smart Cities: Technologies, Challenges and Future Prospects

As you can see below I am one of the authors of this publication. On behalf of the publishers,  I can offer a 20% discount on any pre-orders of the book  (I am not receiving any royalties nor do I have any other financial interest in this publication).

There are several different definitions of “smart cities” based on the various characteristics related to the adjective “Smart” and the noun “City”. The Smart City commonly involves new intelligent technological tools, services and applications integrated in platforms, providing interoperability and coordination among several sectors, which are crucial for the future life of urban communities and have impacts on the environment.

Chapter One describes the smart city as a concept, discusses the issues that have arisen in the post-GFC society, the need for a smart environment vision, and the importance of moving the focus from the remoteness and rigidity of national government back to a more grassroots level, while still taking advantage of the benefits offered by the technological advances that have made.

Chapter Two highlights the working mechanism, advantages and disadvantages of ICT technology applied to transportation in the field of safety improvement, environmental sustainability, road redesign and traveler behavioural change.

Chapter Three seeks to answer if and to what extent urban communication may be either a guarantee or a possibility to create a citizen identity.

In Chapter Four, a Renewable Wireless Sensor Network (RWSN) architecture for human sensing is presented to study the spatial and temporal information of urban space utilization and pedestrian flow.

Chapter Five focuses on the ways in which specific key concepts, such as those of data collection, syntax and affordance, present a dynamic intervention tool, leading to an instrumental and performative construction of a “smarter city”.

Table of Contents:

  • Chapter 1. How to Become a Smart City (Paul Budde, Managing Director Paul Budde Communication, Sydney, Australia)
  • Chapter 2. Smart Transportation as a Driver of Transition: Big Data Management, Behavioral Change and the Shift to Automated Vehicles (Tullio Giuffrè and Salvatore Di Dio, University of Enna Kore, Enna, Italy, and others)
  • Chapter 3. Smart Cities and a Model of Global Communication: An Approach to the Geography of Communication (Paulo Celso da Silva, Master of Communication and Culture, University of Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Chapter 4. Human Sensing Network Architecture and Challenges in Smart Cities (Tanmay Chaturvedi and Kai Li, Transport Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, and others)
  • Chapter 5. Strategies towards Smarter Cities: A Dynamic Tool Which Supports the urban Metabolism (Ioanna Fakiri, School of Architecture, NTUA, Athens, Greece)

If you would like to take advantage of the offer, please send an email to Tricia Worthington at contribcopy.hub@novapublishers.com  and enter Special20 in the subject line of the email.

Paul Budde

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Telcos players in the US set to become even lazier

With all of the current turbulence in the American society it is no wonder that its telecommunications market is also under severe pressure.

In his election campaign Trump promised his American supporters to make changes to what he called the Washington swamp, but it has become clear that the opposite is happening.  While in previous Administrations lobbyists were at least somewhat separated from the politicians, now many of these lobbyists are actually part of the Trump Administration. The grovelling that took place at a recent Trump Cabinet meeting says it all. Obviously the Trump team that is now sitting front-row at the trough can’t believe their luck. They now have positions of such influence in relation to their incumbent businesses, be it oil, energy, pharmaceuticals or telecommunications.

Regarding telecommunications, two key policy changes stand out. One is the winding down of privacy laws, allowing (tele)communications companies to basically do what they like with the private data they collect from their customers – true, some other more generic legislation still applies, but people have little control over what happens with their own personal data.

The other issue is the withdrawal of the net neutrality regulations. This goes to the core of the telecoms industry in America. In reality net neutrality itself was a bit of window-dressing, the key issue behind it being regulatory control over the American incumbent telcos. They call themselves ISPs and have clearly lobbied the Administration in 1996 to declare broadband a content service rather than a telecommunications access service, as such suddenly freeing themselves of most of the telecoms regulations that look after equal access, wholesale requirements, pricing and competition in general.

The net neutrality regulation would have at least given the FCC some new tools to regulate the incumbents in the context of telecommunications – that was the main reason the carriers hated the net neutrality legislation. With Trump in charge little was needed to get him to reverse the legislation and give the power back to what are basically the three telecoms monopolists in America: AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

This will further reduce American leadership in this market. First of all, American companies such as Google and Facebook have simply taken a different route. They are bypassing the incumbents as much as possible and significant investments in wireless technologies are now being made by these internet-based companies that will give them even more independence from the telcos.

International telecoms leadership has moved to Asia, with Korea and increasingly China becoming the new innovators in the market.

Domestically America has been dropping down the international ladder regarding the quality of broadband (speed) and is now sitting somewhere in the middle of the western economies, after having had the number one or two spots for most of the 1990s and early 00s.

With more regulatory relief for the incumbents most certainly on the way from the Trump clique there will be even less incentive for them to innovate and compete, and America will just drop further down the international ladder. This will have a significant long-term effect on social and economic matters, which are being more and more underpinned by a healthy, competitive and high-speed broadband infrastructure.

Telcos will not be stimulated to innovate and compete. They will become lazier and lazier, using the monopolies to simply increase their prices and milk their traditional services as much as possible, since there will be no pressure on them to ensure that America does get better telecoms networks like those that are being built in the countries of many of their trading partners, and this will isolate them even further from international developments.

Paul Budde

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NBN legislation might still work out positively

There are many problems with the NBN, but one of the few elements of the original plan that has not been changed might have a longer-term positive outcome – that is, if the nbn company is in fact able to upgrade most of its network to FttC and FttH.

I am talking about the monopoly that the nbn company enjoys. And I will have to make a qualification here – under the FttN rollout to which a large number of customers are still relegated, the legislation that underpins this monopoly works against them.

As I have argued previously, for a nationwide FttH network that provides a quantum leap over the old existing infrastructure a monopoly is quite acceptable. However, such a monopoly based on an FttN network is a very bad thing indeed, as it prevents any fixed broadband-based competition from providing currently available products that are much better than FttN, such as those established on a premium-based FttH infrastructure.

But, OK, if the company does indeed continue with FttC we are getting close enough to the original plan that warranted such a monopoly.

The reason the original legislation is important became very clear when, a few months ago, Google decided to stop the rollout of its FttH networks. It simply wasn’t economically viable to do this in competition with the incumbent telecoms carriers in the USA, who were using all tricks in the book to undermine Google at every step they made in that direction.

This has been the argument all the time. A high-speed national broadband network is a utility and needs to be treated as such. There are no examples anywhere in the world of FttH networks being built in competition with each other. At the same time the end goal of all telecoms infrastructure upgrades are aimed at FttH, be it from DSL-based or HCF-based networks. Even Australia’s Prime Minister has mentioned this several times.

So let us hope that the nbn company will continue to eliminate as much as possible of its FttN rollout in favour of FttC. If that happens we will nearly be back on track with the original NBN plan. It is just very sad that politics have got in the way – causing so much grief for the customers that are badly affected, and for those who are now being bypassed because their connections are ending up in the too-hard basket; and inflicting pain on the nbn company and the government as well.

All so unnecessary if reason had won out over politics.

Now that the nbn seems to have taken a better turn it is to be hoped that other botched policies, such as the one around smart energy, might follow. For those waiting for the end it would be better to wait a little longer if it means you will be connected to an FttC service.

Paul Budde

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IoT network for farmers

Agriculture is forecast to be one of the key industries where the Internet of Things can make a significant contribution to Australia’s future growth and competitiveness.

The future of farming is in collecting and analysing big data in order to maximise efficiency, mitigate risk and drive productivity. Connected farmers will be able to monitor and understand a broad range of specific areas of their farm without physically checking, from soil moisture, paddock specific rainfall critical water infrastructure, track livestock movements, and remotely control irrigation and other on-farm resources. These deep insights will then provide the basis for better production prediction and analytics, along with creating new data driven finance and insurance solutions.

In mid 2017 a new joint venture was launched between Discovery Ag and the National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo) involves the formation of a new company, Connected Country, to build and operate a nationwide Rural Internet of Things (IoT) network to bring hi-tech agriculture solutions to Australian farmers.

NNNCo, established as the Australian LoRaWAN network, is providing a commercial grade low cost narrowband network for IoT as an end-to-end scalable solution to service the whole of Australia. The company is a leading authority on LoRaWAN global standard technology, which it is implementing for key industry segments including energy, water, buildings, cities and now agriculture.

The Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) will provide the backbone infrastructure for secure, standards based shared networks of low-cost wireless sensors that constantly report on essential farm metrics like soil moisture, rainfall, crop health, water levels and livestock data. The roll out of the network started in mid 2017 and will cover 1 million acres in NSW encompassing of dry land crops, horticulture and livestock and a number of rural tows. By 2019 the joint venture partners intend to extend across vast areas of the nation’s farming regions.

The Joint Venture is the first of its kind in Australia’s emerging IoT market. Connected Country is dedicated to providing carrier grade networks to enable smarter, cheaper and more ubiquitous sensors by leveraging local innovation in conjunction with a global ecosystem of providers. The goal is to drive productivity, efficiency and risk management solutions across rural and regional Australia.

Key partners include:  Cisco and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

One of the key success factors for Connected Country will be its ability to help farmers collate and analyse large amounts of data from IoT devices and signals, and then use that information to make better decisions.

Two of the biggest predictors of crop yield are soil moisture and rainfall, which can vary widely across different parts of a farm. The decisions farmers make about when and where to irrigate, what to plant in which paddock, use of chemicals and fertilisers, and when to harvest can have a huge bearing on their annual production. The new network can help them make better decisions across multiple aspects of farm management, the productivity gains will be significant.

The impact of the new network on current pricing structures will also be important, representing opportunities for farmers keen to employ new technologies to boost profitability and efficiencies, but who up until now have been deterred by price.

The network will significantly drive down the cost of connection for data communication and the cost of sensors using this technology. This will make the difference between isolated usage and widespread deployment of the sensors which will in turn provide more granular information and higher value to the industry.

LoRaWAN’s capabilities are well suited to agricultural requirements. The technology is already used in farms across in Europe and the USA and has proven to be low cost and effective. LoRaWAN-enabled sensors are available at a relatively low cost and a LoRaWAN on-farm gateway can cover large areas and connect to thousands of sensors at an affordable cost.

A key capability of LoRaWAN is the extremely low power consumption as well as the flexibility to support a wide range of use cases. For example, bi-directional communication and multicast functionality which enable farmers to communicate with sensors on an individual and group level.

Instead of simply receiving data, farmers can control key aspects of their farm such as water infrastructure, asset tracking, demand feeding and watering and emergency signalling amongst a host of other applications.

Data ownership and privacy are other important elements. Farmers need to be able to own and control their own data. Through Connected Country, the data remains in Australia and is controlled by the sensor owner – in this instance the grower. Being an open standard technology other sensor developers are encouraged to connect to and leverage the network over time. This is key because the industry will demand sensor choice and competition. Rather than being tied to a proprietary network with a silo solution, LoRaWAN will ensure they become part of an ecosystem.

See:- Australia – Smart Farming

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