• Dimitrios Spiliopoulos discusses the developing relationship between operators and urban public bodies on the development of smart city solutions.

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Telefónica UK on Smart Cities’ challenges and opportunities

Source: JC Gellidon / Unsplash

Dimitrios Spiliopoulos, IoT Sales Enablement Manager at Telefónica UK (O2 UK), was interviewed ahead of a presentation at the Smart Cities World event on the developing relationship between operators and urban public bodies on the development of smart city solutions. Spiliopoulos was upbeat on the long-term opportunity for operators to build digital revenue streams through smart city solutions, but warned that authorities need to be more proactive and decisive in dealings with operators to ensure sustainable long-term solutions are developed.

The O2 executive suggested that opportunities for operators will converge around three categories:

  • Collaboration on connectivity at a local level, using the breadth of available connectivity solutions, including fixed and wireless platforms, and emerging standards such as LTE-M and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) in the IoT sphere.
  • Data-driven services, with operators providing analysis of anonymised and aggregated data on how people move around cities.
  • Partnerships on delivery of local services including healthcare, security, transportation, and managing pollution.

Spiliopoulos warned, however, that there is often an unclear digital strategy within many local authorities, and a “lack of digital talent from the public sector side”.

It was also noted that there is often a range of different stakeholders involved in smart city projects, which need to be kept happy, and which may have differing priorities.

“Some partners are looking for quick wins or using old solutions to new problems, which is not a recipe for a successful [return on investment].


Speed, in terms of decision making and deployments, is something that operators and other smart city vendors are missing from the cities. If a project is discussed for years and at the end there is no decision at all, this doesn’t help the operators to justify investments of resources and time into the smart cities market.”

– Spiliopoulos.

To help counter the lack of urgency and contrasting ambitions, Spiliopoulos hopes that improved communications between operators and cities could help the two sides understand each other better, and collaborate more effectively.