AWS Public Sector Blog

Creating a Long-Term Smart Cities Vision with AWS

Cities worldwide are improving citizen services and economic and environmental outcomes through technology, while also seeking to create a vision of what a smart, connected, and sustainable city of the future will look like. While you can start building and experimenting today, it’s important to have a long-term vision and a set of principles to guide you in building cost-effective, adaptable, secure, and low-risk solutions during a time of rapid technological change.

Some starting points to consider include:

  • Cities collect an increasing amount of data. In order to integrate data with other sources, data sources should also be open and accessible.
  • Connected devices and IoT sensors are becoming more prevalent, powerful, and cheaper.
  • The rise of machine learning (ML) continues in a range of applications, both in the cloud and at the edge.

A smart city platform is made up of inputs, processes, and outputs. This approach highlights the centrality and importance of data, which can help you build the right solutions for the long and short term.


City data is collected from a wide and growing array of sources. These can be legacy data sources, IoT sensors that transmit data securely and at scale to the cloud, or video and audio sources that can be analyzed at the edge using a trained machine learning model deployed with AWS Greengrass. People can also be sources of data via mobile apps and wearable devices. And open data portals, such as the Registry of Open Data on AWS, can also enrich your data.

Customers and partners can develop data ingestion capabilities using AWS services, like Amazon FreeRTOS, AWS IoT Core, AWS Greengrass, Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon Kinesis Video Streams. Starting with a small volume of data, they can then scale to cater to millions of devices and messages, only ever paying for what they use.

One customer example is the City of Newport in Wales, UK, who partnered with system integrator Pinacl Solutions and IoT solution provider Davra Networks to build an ingestion network for air quality, water, and waste Management IoT sensors. Another example is, which provides the citizens of Jakarta, Indonesia with real-time flood information collected using IoT water-level sensors and crowd-sourced data. And Miovision brings connected sensors to existing infrastructure and uses data to enable analytics that improve transport planning.


Once you’ve ingested data in the cloud, you need to act on and store the data for later use. Amazon S3 is a highly reliable, secure, and scalable object store ideal for smart city solutions. Once data has moved to S3, customers can use services like AWS Glue, AWS IAM, and AWS Lambda to build a data lake that can transform and enrich their raw data, making it available for analytics and other solutions.

Customers can build their own data lake and data management platform or engage with our smart cities partners like C3 IoT, Xaqt, and ThingLogix. For example, Kansas City, Missouri, turned to Xaqt to take all of the data being generated by disparate devices day and night, plus more than 4,200 existing datasets, and turn it into tangible outcomes.

Whichever path you choose, the acquisition, storage, and management of your city data will help support evidence-based decision-making and help you build data assets for public use and future innovation.


A city’s data can support many use cases. With AWS, you can:

Find out more about building a scalable, secure, adaptable and future-proof smart city platform on AWS at AWS for Smart, Connected and Sustainable Cities and AWS Marketplace – Smart City Solutions.  And get ideas from the AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge winners.

And listen to the “Using IoT for Smart Cities” podcast here.

A post by Craig Lawton, Smart Australia & IoT Specialist, Solution Architecture, ANZ, Worldwide Public Sector, AWS

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Public Sector Blog team writes for the government, education, and nonprofit sector around the globe. Learn more about AWS for the public sector by visiting our website (, or following us on Twitter (@AWS_gov, @AWS_edu, and @AWS_Nonprofits).