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Did you ever play the game SimCity? In the year 1989, the company Maxis launched the first edition of the successful series of video games. Now nearly 30 years later we are seeking solutions to make Smart Cities and companies are trying to offer turnkey solutions. City in the box is an initiative which shall bring a set of applications together which allow city governments to quickly deploy their services, welcome to Box City.

The term Box City could relate to a lot of things and does not maybe explain itself. But let me make it clear. In software engineering, we have the goal to define standard software for business cases which help organizations to organize themselves easily with the assistance of technology and software.

Think about an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that helps you to bridge the gap between organizational structures on a transactional base. The same applies to other business software like CRM, CMS, ECM, BPM, or DMS. They all have one thing in common, using a framework which only needs configuration and customization to adopt it for an organization.

The job of standard software gets already more difficult if we move away from transactional services to human-centric or document-based services. Here it is much more difficult to find a framework that can easily recognize the relevant information to execute a transaction.

When we talk about governments and Smart Cities we have citizens which are the customers measuring the service level by their happiness.

Over years we have been seeking technologies that can adopt this requirement and partial we found the answers with technologies like A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), A.R. (Augmented Reality), and Blockchain which helps governments to gain transparency and trust.

So let us make sure that citizens don’t feel like in a game, otherwise, we will rename our Smart City to SimCity.

Surbana Jurong and Microsoft announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly develop a cloud-based Smart City in a Box solution, while enhancing its suite of applications, in the Asia Pacific region.

Launched in July 2016, Surbana Jurong’s Smart City in a Box is an integrated set of solutions with a dashboard that allows city officials to load customizable applications (Apps) in four key areas – security, efficiency, sustainability, and community. For Smart Cities governments it means to have easy access to track, monitor, and manage cities better or let’s say simple, let’s make a Box City.


ENERGY MANAGEMENT. Gathering energy usage data through meters in buildings to advise clients on how to mitigate the energy usage.

WATER MANAGEMENT. Detect water quality by using camera analytics to examine marine life in water.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND FLOOD MODELLING. A tool that allows users to model flooding and climate change, particularly in cities that are in a conceptual stage.


SMART LIGHTING. Sensors and controllers in light fittings that allow light to dim if no presence is detected ‘ saving energy and expenditure.

PREDICTIVE LIFT MAINTENANCE. Enables the analysis of data received from sensors installed 1n lifts to predict breakdowns.

TRAFFIC MONITORING. Cameras with video analytics installed on highways to detect traffic jams, accidents, and other traffic misconduct.


FIRE & SMOKE DETECTION. Cameras and video analytics that detect fire and smoke.

FACIAL RECOGNITION. Cameras and laptops with stored data used to identify blacklisted individuals.

SMART CCTV. Usage of cameras and video analytics to facilitate people-counting, illegal intrusion, objects left unattended and vehicle plate recognition.

BEHAVIOR ANALYTICS. Cameras that detect persons who may be drowning in a pool.


ITOWN (BOX CITY). A mobile app allowing users to conveniently take pictures of defects and submit feedback to city councils.

SMART HOME. A system that can control both locally and remotely, the air-con and lighting curtain of home.

ELDERLY MONITORING. Installation of sensors in homes to detect the well-being of elderly persons and their movements.

SMART TOILET. Sensors that detect if the toilet 1s wet or has run out of toilet paper, enabling the deployment of cleaners based on need rather than scheduled cleaning.

The goal of Smart City in a Box is to utilize Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters.

Smart City in a Box will bring the following benefits to clients:

  • Deployment of Smart City in a Box solution from anywhere
  • Scalability – flexibility to expand and increase capacity
  • Cost savings: No need for CAPEX investment in hardware and infrastructure
  • Disaster recovery as a backup can be provided for the Business Continuity Plan
  • Automatic software updates

Using Microsoft Azure’s predictive analytics services, including machine learning and video analytics. For example, Smart Cities will be able to enhance their predictive lift and asset management services.

  • Predictive Lift Analytics – New sensors can be installed in lifts to predict breakdowns before they occur, thus shifting the lift maintenance/repair regime from reactive to predictive. By detecting abnormal speeds and jerkiness, the information is fed into the system which uses an algorithm to predict when the lift is likely to fail and trigger an alert for repair/maintenance works before a breakdown occurs. Through predictive analytics, spare parts can be ordered in advance to ensure that they are available when maintenance/repair works need to be carried out.
  • Video Analytics – Video analytics can be used to enhance surveillance effectiveness and reduce reliance on manpower to monitor multiple video screens. Video analytics use algorithms to detect situations that may require follow up action. For example, it is able to detect when a person faints in the lift or if a suspicious package is left behind and trigger an alert for help faster. Cost savings will also be achieved in the long run while increasing productivity.

As you can see big data and predictive analytics is a valuable way to control costs and save time and lower risks.

2016 the MOU signed was the first of its kind, a collaboration for Microsoft which will leverage  Surbana Jurong’s live operating experience in Smart City Solutions. Singapore’s public housing estates monitored over 24,000 lifts back in 2016. This was the starting of getting a ready solution set for the future. For future implementations, it should lower the time and costs for other Smart Cities, welcome to Box City.

Below you can find an infographic illustrating the four key areas of the project. Share with us your thoughts and ideas to Box City, use our commenting section below.

Smart City in a Box: Welcome to Box City
Skillz Middle East makes Digital Transformation happening for your company. We focus on the quick win to ensure Digital Marketing, e-learning, Web Meeting, Web Conferencing, Digital Signature, Digital Asset Management are ready to enhance your organization. Digital Marketing shall save money and bring a more efficient conversion for your brand and products.
Dieter Hovorka

CTO, Co-founder, Skillz Middle East

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