The Internet of Things (IoT) is a recent communication paradigm that envisions a near future, in which the objects of everyday life will be equipped with microcontrollers, transceivers for digital communication, and suitable protocol stacks that will make them able to communicate with one another and with the users, becoming an integral part of the Internet. The IoT concept, hence, aims at making the Internet even more immersive and pervasive.
Furthermore, by enabling easy access and interaction with a wide variety of devices such as, for instance, home appliances, surveillance cameras, monitoring sensors, actuators, displays, vehicles, and so on, the IoT will foster the development of a number of applications that make use of the potentially enormous amount and variety of data generated by such objects to provide new services to citizens, companies, and public administrations. This paradigm indeed finds application in many different domains, such as home automation, industrial automation, medical aids, mobile healthcare, elderly assistance, intelligent energy management and smart grids, automotive, traffic management, and many others.
However, such a heterogeneous field of application makes the identification of solutions capable of satisfying the requirements of all possible application scenarios a formidable challenge. This difficulty has led to the proliferation of different and, sometimes, incompatible proposals for the practical realization of IoT systems. Therefore, from a system perspective, the realization of an IoT network, together with the required backend network services and devices, still lacks an established best practice because of its novelty and complexity. In addition to the technical difficulties, the adoption of the IoT paradigm is also hindered by the lack of a clear and widely accepted business model that can attract investments to promote the deployment of these technologies.
In this complex scenario, the application of the IoT paradigm to an urban context is of particular interest, as it responds to the strong push of many national governments to adopt ICT solutions in the management of public affairs, thus realizing the so-called Smart City concept . Although there is not yet a formal and widely accepted definition of “Smart City,” the final aim is to make a better use of the public resources, increasing the quality of the services offered to the citizens, while reducing the operational costs of the public administrations. This objective can be pursued by the deployment of an urban IoT, i.e., a communication infrastructure that provides unified, simple, and economical access to a plethora of public services, thus unleashing potential synergies and increasing transparency to the citizens. An urban IoT, indeed, may bring a number of benefits in the management and optimization of traditional public services, such as transport and parking, lighting, surveillance and maintenance of public areas, preservation of cultural heritage, garbage collection, salubrity of hospitals, and school.Furthermore, the availability of different types of data, collected by a pervasive urban IoT, may also be exploited to increase the transparency and promote the actions of the local government toward the citizens, enhance the awareness of people about the status of their city, stimulate the active participation of the citizens in the management of public administration, and also stimulate the creation of new services upon those provided by the IoT. Therefore, the application of the IoT paradigm to the Smart City is particularly attractive to local and regional administrations that may become the early adopters of such technologies, thus acting as catalyzers for the adoption of the IoT paradigm on a wider scale.