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July 5, 2017

In the previous post, I emphasized the need for smarter Quality Assurance (QA) for Smart Cities. I listed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) components required for building Smart Cities. With the advent of the cloud and other technology options, provisioning these components is perhaps the easiest of all. But assuring them is an altogether different proposition because these complex, integrated, and multi-stakeholder systems span across physical and digital worlds.

Here is a to-do list for QA teams tasked with assuring Smart City technology:

Practice Inclusive Assurance: To assure the Smart Citys ICT components, QA teams must practice inclusive testing, with a 360 degree coverage across the SDLC phases. Inclusive also means involving QA and testing teams in Smart City projects, from the very outset, and making them part of the business needs and requirements discussions. This outlook builds assurance into the DNA of Smart Cities implementation.

Gear up for Agile: Smart City infrastructure is based on web technologies, new business models, and an evolutionary ecosystem of connected apps. With Agile practices and DevOps techniques becoming part of Smart City implementations, testing too must be smart and agile. New and smarter test strategies must be developed and piloted, to cope with the new reality of continuously evolving and changing requirements. This is critical for assuring high levels of connectivity and integrated smartness.

Deploy Extreme and Smart Automation: Testing teams are not new to automation. Test automation has been adopted across industries. Businesses across the world are continuously raising the bar for test automation levels, and extending it to test validation, design, data and environment provisioning, and reporting. Smart Cities are no exception. Clearly, test automation can be a key enabler for assuring accuracy and quality, reducing time and cost of deployment, and accelerating market reach. Smart test automation frameworks will evolve around cognitive technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one such disruptive innovation that promises to improve the efficiency of test automation. QA teams must keep pace, and adopt and deploy these new testing technologies in Smart City contexts.

Increase Focus on Performance, Security and Mobility Testing: With Big Data being the core and central theme in Smart City implementation, there must be increased focus on performance improvements around such large volume data generated and consumed by various components of the Smart City ecosystem. When citizens interact with government and municipal authorities using e-Services, they expect a seamless performance and good experience. With an ever increasing urban population, maintaining adequate level of application performance will be a challenge. Smart Assurance techniques will have to assure not simply the functionality, but also end-to-end performance of business transactions. Testing beyond optimal loads, QA teams must measure scalability, resilience and endurance of smart solutions.

In the Smart City context, security and regulatory compliance too pose critical questions, and security testing is more important than ever. Real-time data collected from Smart Things, demands a 360 degree security wrapper that includes components such as threat modeling, vulnerability assessments, and ethical hackings. This security assurance wrapper must be tightly coupled with all phases of the SDLC.

Besides the Smart Things, smart phones too are major enablers of the Smart City revolution. Thus mobility testing takes center stage in Smart City assurance. Apart from validating the application behavior and business flows, QA teams also verify citizens experiences across various mobile device configurations.

Innovate and Adopt New Testing Engagement Models: As an active and important stakeholder, QA must evolve and articulate new ways and methods by which ICT components will engage with governmental bodies, businesses, and citizens of smart cities. These evolutions include cloud implementation models such as Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), IT as a Service (ITaaS), and Business Apps as a Service (BAaaS). Besides ushering in cost and operational benefits, these models define how software applications will be created and consumed by the future smart citizens. To meet the testing needs of complex systems (smart apps, consumer devices, and intelligent data processing systems) testing models too have to keep pace and evolve. Novel examples include the consumption based, Testing as a Service (TaaS), and the transaction based testing service models. Crowd-sourced testing is an efficient, alternative model, for mobility testing across consumer devices. Existing test models, such as test factory and testing center of excellence, too must continue to evolve.

The possibilities are endless and the potential is enormous. The smart revolution, combined with ongoing technology developments, promises new opportunities for future Smart Cities and citizens. This future brings for the QA and Testing function greater responsibility – of assuring smartness, and ensuring a happy beginning.

Vaibhav Srivastava is a pre-sales consultant for hi-tech and professional services at TCS Assurance Services Unit. With 9 years of overall IT experience, he has handled project delivery for retail and hi-tech customers in development, QA & testing and project management roles. He has technical and domain experience in customer relationship management, customer experience management and digital marketing where he has worked as solution architect and delivery owner.


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