BU building SCOPE smart city platform for the cloud

Boston University building smart city platform for the cloud

Boston University announced plans to develop a smart-city cloud platform designed to streamline and strengthen multiple municipal functions. The Smart-city Cloud-based Open Platform and Ecosystem (SCOPE) project aims to use cloud and big data technologies to improve transportation, energy, public safety, asset management and social services in the City of Boston and across Massachusetts.

“Today’s cities are increasingly being challenged – to respond to diverse needs of their citizens, to prepare for major environmental changes, to improve urban quality of life and to foster economic development,” said Azer Bestavros, director of the university’s Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering and SCOPE’s principal investigator. 

“So called ‘smart cities’ are closing these gaps through the use of technology to connect people with resources, to guide changes in collective behavior and to foster innovation and economic growth.”  

SCOPE investigators will develop smart-city services and tools in transportation, energy, public safety and open data. Once developed, the services will be offered through the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC), the new public cloud infrastructure designed and implemented through the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center and supported by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

Unlike existing proprietary public clouds where all of the technology is controlled by a single entity, the MOC is a marketplace where hardware capacity, software and services can be supplied, purchased and resold by many participants. The MOC provides a range of services, including infrastructure as a service, which offers on-demand access to virtual machines, as well as application development and big data platform services via the cloud.

SCOPE will also leverage the Open Cloud eXchange (OCX), SCOPE’s enabling technology, a plug-and-play architecture that is the basis for the MOC.

“OCX allows many partners, not just a single provider, to compete and cooperate on the same cloud infrastructure, effectively creating a multi-sided cloud marketplace in which innovation can flourish in support of new applications that are currently under-served by prevailing public cloud operators,” Bestavros said.

Additionally, SCOPE will support the development of novel application programming interfaces, adding capabilities that are currently not available in public cloud offerings, including support for predictable operation of cyber-physical systems; data-quality management; and data security, integrity, privacy and provenance services, according to the university.

Spearheaded by the Hariri Institute and supported by the National Science Foundation, SCOPE is led by a multidisciplinary team of investigators from across university departments and MassIT, Massachusetts’ lead state agency for technology led by the Commonwealth CIO, the MassTech Collaborative, the City of Boston, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Industry partners include Schneider Electric, International Data Corp., Integrated Technical Systems, Inc., Connected Bits and CrowdComfort.

“The SCOPE project will provide invaluable lessons on how to deploy a cloud-based smart city system that will help inform investment direction, policy decisions and the development of new services,” said Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, smart city research director at IDC. “The potential for replication of the SCOPE model has significant ramifications for all cities and states.”

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