What was new in smart city tech at MWC17?

Last updated: 26 January 2023

MWC smart city

We have all read about the societal and environmental challenges that have arisen with an increasingly urbanized global population. We think smart city technology provides an answer to many of the questions posed. It’s not just that it can help tackle climate change, overpopulation, and overconsumption; smart tech can also make our lives more convenient and friction free than ever before. We’re not surprised, therefore, to see that the smart city has been a major theme at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

So right now after MWC17, we thought it would be good to draw out the key trends in the smart city space so far.

MWC smart city

Green IoT initiatives

We’ve talked before on the blog about the potential of the IoT for the environment. With billions of embedded sensors, governments and companies can better monitor carbon emissions and track pollution levels. At MWC17, AT&T and GE announced a partnership to deliver environmentally-friendly IoT technology to cities across North and Central America. Intelligent sensor nodes will power a new generation of street lighting; they will be fully integrated within light poles, allowing city governments to use existing poles and equip them with energy-efficient LED lighting.

On the way to 5G in a smarter city

5G is a broad term referring to the next generation of telecoms standards. At MWC, we have seen many news about IoT-optimized machine-type communication and LTE Cat NB-IoT networks around the corner, paving the way to 5G. To give people an idea of the possibilities, we showed a smart city lighting and EV charging solution powered by eluminocity, partners and Gemalto technology at our own MWC booth.


The solution incorporates smart sensors and transforms street lights into intelligent platforms connected to a central control system to enable a variety of use cases beyond lighting, where high-power LEDs can now be dimmed on demand and even be used to alert pedestrians and vehicles. The lamps can also detect if there is a free parking lot underneath and EV owners can be guided to an available charging station on a mobile app where they can also make a reservation. For added convenience, a regionally standardized connector allows charging of almost any EV available on the market. The innovation demonstrates the potential for creating smarter, greener city systems.

Driverless vehicles

MWC smart city

Lewis Hamilton…you’d better watch out! One of our favorite innovations from MWC this year is Roborace’s driverless supercar, the world’s first autonomous racing vehicle. It can reach incredible speeds of up to 200mph and moves by using data gathered by sensors and six cameras. However, there may be hope for Formula One staff yet; the car can be programmed how to drive through algorithms developed by Roborace’s engineers. Perhaps the stars of the car races of the future won’t be the drivers, but the computer engineers, as they try to formulate winning strategies.

Building an Internet of Trusted Things

Of course, for the smart city to work, the underlying infrastructure needs to be intelligent and secure. To enable a functioning street lighting system, for instance, there needs to be a secure connection between the lamps and a central control system. It is a complex process with the potential for an undetected weakness in one part of the system potentially leading to compromising security for the whole system. Those building critical infrastructure and solutions for smart cities need to think very carefully and holistically about the networks and systems they are connecting, whether it’s car park, traffic or waste management projects they’re looking after.

To reap the rewards, governments and other key stakeholders need to connect, secure and monetize their IoT strategy, using the right combination of secure  connectivity, agile monetization platforms and effective lifecycle management.

What smart city innovations were you most excited by at this year’s MWC? Let us know by tweeting to us at @GemaltoIoT.

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