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With the global smart city market estimated to surpass $2.5 trillion by 2025, according to PwC, several technology vendors are looking at how best to deploy technologies to help smart cities become even more efficient and safer. A recent report by Deloitte revealed cities must rebuild new digital urban ecosystems that are viable in the post-pandemic economy and the next industrial revolution. The design of these smart cities built for smart citizens of the digital era must focus on the quality of life, economic competitiveness and sustainability.
To ensure the viability of smart cities, several technologies must work together — from automation to AI infusion and other connections leveraging internet of things (IoT). Leaning on AI and IoT, Israeli startup CityShob has its sight set on helping smart cities become even smarter.
While most people define smart cities strictly from a geographical or geospatial point of view, CityShob sees smart cities differently. The company believes that “any type of entity — whether it’s a building, a campus, a neighborhood, an enterprise, a city, a county, a state or a country” — can be considered and treated as a smart city.
Founded in 2016 and based out of HaSharon, Israel, CityShob is rethinking the concept of smart cities and how they can be managed. CityShob “connects millions of data sources to create one platform that manages crucial assets and resources of cities and corporations,” according to the company’s website.
VentureBeat spoke to CityShob CEO, Avi Shoham, and vice president of products, Daniel Shapiro, to discuss the company’s technology and how it works.
A data-first approach to building smart cities
CityShob has a data-first approach, with the belief that a city is a living, breathing organism. Shapiro offered an analogy that for a smart city, cameras, citizen engagement tools and IoT devices are like sensory inputs; internal communication networks such as 5G or fiber are like neural connections; and, most importantly, its platform solutions are like “a brain that can receive, process, analyze and operate all these connections.”
That brain, he said, is CityShob’s C-Insight platform with advanced capabilities that allow different users from multiple organizations in a city to work together.
Shapiro said CityShob’s solutions make a difference, with an intuitive user interface and ability to analyze the needs of a city and its residents, as well as identify the strengths and weaknesses of its existing infrastructure and technological solutions.
According to Shapiro, “Building smart cities doesn’t end with implementing new technologies. City managers, as well as citizens, need to know how to use technologies and applications and must be comfortable with them.”
Shapiro noted that a major challenge facing smart city administrators is the inability to see throughout the entire city (also called “blind spots”). He said this is a challenge that the company’s advanced C-Insight platform and ecosystem addresses. The C-Insight platform allows city managers to see “the whole picture” and provides actionable insights on implementing changes that truly benefit all concerned parties.
With solutions that span city management, including a first responder suite of tools and engagement interfaces, CityShob aims to deliver value to smart cities with offerings like these:
- C-Insight platform: allows different users from multiple organizations in a city to cooperate with an adjustable and highly configurable concept of operations (CONOPS).
- C-React: a mobile application for first responders that serves as a supporting informational and investigative tool.
- C-Share: an application that can be adjusted for each of CityShob’s customers and provides a gateway for citizens to engage with a municipality.
CityShob markets its unified solution as a provider of actionable insights into day-to-day city operations using a wide variety of integrated IoT sensors and effectors. Speaking on how CityShob’s solution works, Shapiro said, “the solution provides city managers with one comprehensive, holistic picture from all data sources, increases operational efficiency and allows improvements in areas like public safety, resource distribution and management, access to services, smart mobility and citizen engagement.” All of CityShob’s data, according to Shapiro, is consolidated using quartz databases.
“Basically, we use elastic search for storing objects and additional information like metadata of the system that we are integrating with. We also use SQL servers for storing any data that has to do with the events of detections on the system and so on,” he said.
CityShob is strong on data privacy, as Shapiro emphasized that none of the company’s solutions tracks user data, adding that its platforms provide actionable insights, while city managers use those insights. Although Shapiro agreed there are other industry players, he said CityShob prides itself in being highly integrative — a feature which he said many of its competitors lack.
Shapiro said that while most smart cities have their own infrastructure management systems, CityShob is able to integrate all of those infrastructure systems under a unified platform. “Our array of solutions brings a holistic and unified situational awareness picture for city managers and gives them actionable information on how to improve their cities. In the end, we provide the insight and what makes the difference is what city managers do with the information and how this translates into smarter, safer cities,” he said.
Some of CityShob’s competitors, according to Tracxn, include Citylitics, Dynamo Metrics and CivicConnect.
Partnering to build ‘smart smart cities’
Shoham said partnering with industry experts, like CityShob, who can analyze the needs of a smart city — including but not limited to enterprises, states and municipalities — and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the existing infrastructure and technological solutions is the key to building smart cities that are “truly smart and safe.”
“Together, we can define the right strategy to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life for everyone,” he said.
Shoham said that CityShob has several global partners on projects in Latin America, Israel and Southeast Asia, and it’s now exploring additional markets in the United States and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). Although currently self-funded, Shoham said CityShob will likely consider raising investment in 2024.