Neo4j’s Emil Eifrem says we’ll need to harness Internet of Things (IoT) technology using graph software to fulfill a vision of interconnected, smart urban centres.

Emil Eifrem is CEO and co-founder of Neo4j. Previously CTO of Sweden’s Windh AB, where he headed up the development of highly complex information architectures for Enterprise Content Management Systems, Emil famously sketched out what today is known as the property graph model on a flight to Mumbai in 2000. Since then Emil has devoted his professional life to building and evangelising graph databases, and jokes that as a result he plans to save the world through graphs and own Larry Ellison’s yacht by the end of the decade. He is a frequent conference speaker and a well-known author and blogger on NoSQL and graph databases, as well as co-author of the agreed Bible on graph databases, O’Reilly’s Graph Databases.

In 2014, city dwellers accounted for 54% of the world’s population, a figure expected to increase nearly 2% each year through 2020. But many of our cities were developed in the 19th or 20th centuries – many even earlier. That growth will challenge on many fronts – traffic, health-care, environment, urban planning, energy. Many policymakers believe technology is the only feasible way to make cities cope – by making them ‘smart’. But how will society achieve this status? To make an urban network ‘smart’ means managing a complex synergy of multiple sensors, networks, devices, CCTV cameras, power grids, utility frameworks, traffic lights and smart water and power metres. To make an urban network ‘smart’ means managing a complex synergy of multiple sensors, networks, devices, CCTV cameras, power grids, utility frameworks, traffic lights and smart water and power metres, along with people.

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