IoT enabled Smart Cities

As the population of cities increase, corresponding challenges and opportunities increase exponentially. Incoming residents and visitors contribute to a city’s economy and revenue. The UN predicts that by 2050, the world’s urban population is likely to double and reach nearly 6.7 million people.

Consequently, more people in urban areas strain resources. Hence, cities are turning to Internet of Things technologies to alleviate the burden and create economic growth.

IoT devices are becoming a part of smart city infrastructure that can help reduce the strain of city growth, from traffic control to environmental issues.

From contributing to a healthier environment and improving traffic to enhancing public safety and optimizing street lighting, IoT enabled smart city applications are immense. Let’s look at some important applications of Smart City.

Implementations for Smart Cities

Road Traffic

To get from point A to point B, IoT based smart city can contribute by adding the safety and efficiency factor.

Smart traffic solutions employ different types of sensors as well as fetch GPS data from driver’s smartphones to determine the location and speed of the vehicle. At the same time smart traffic lights connected to a cloud platform manage the green light timing as per the current traffic situation in the vicinity.

A good example is Los Angeles in California, USA. The city has implemented a smart traffic solution to control the traffic flow. Using road-surface sensors and closed circuit television cameras, there are real-time updates about the traffic flow to a central traffic management platform. The platform analyzes the data and informs user of congestion and traffic signal malfunctions.

They are also looking at deploying network of smart controllers to automatically make second-by-second traffic lights adjustments, reacting to changing traffic conditions in real time.

Smart Parking

Smart parking solutions determine whether parking spots are available or occupied. When the closest parking slot becomes free, the driver gets a notification on their mobile apps. This makes finding parking slots easier without blindly looking for a spot.

Street Lighting

It becomes very cost-effective to maintain and control street lights using IoT. Streetlights, when equipped with sensors and connected to cloud, lighting schedule in a lighting zone can be configured.

So for example, when the pedestrians cross the road, the lights around the crossings can switch to a brighter setting, when a bus arrives at a bus stop, the streetlights can be set automatically to a higher brightness.

Waste Management

Waste collection schedule can be optimized by tracking waste levels, along with providing route optimization and operational analytics.

Each waste container gets a sensor that gathers data about the level of the waste in a container. Once it is close to a certain threshold, the waste management solution receives a sensor record, processes it, and sends a notification to truck driver’s mobile app.

This leads to efficient use of waste containers and optimal fuel consumption by waste collecting trucks.

Public Transport

The data from IoT sensors can help reveal patterns of how citizens use transport.

Ticket sales and traffic information sources can be used for a detailed analysis, thereby developing smart public transport solutions.

An interesting application is found in London — where some train operators predict loading of train passenger cars on their trips in and out of the city. Movement sensors, ticket sales and CCTV data is used to predict how each car will load up with passengers.

Industry Leaders in Smart City Domain

Now that we’ve looked at the applications, let us look at some industry leaders in Smart City Market.

Nokia

To help cities make the most of the digital opportunities, Nokia has launched “IoT for Smart Cities” framework. With the fully integrated approach, every “thing” can talk to each other to make tomorrow’s cities smart, safe and sustainable.

It’s important features and benefits are

  • End to end fully integrated approach
  • Modular agile scalable and secure
  • Unified smart city operations for efficiency
  • Quickly launch new smart city services with assured performance and reliability
  • Unlock new revenue opportunities with Analytics

Microsoft

The software giant provides smart city and urban mobility management solutions. Using these solutions, one can manage smart transportation infrastructure, assess road conditions and ease congestion with real-time and historic traffic intelligence.

Location solutions can be built with Azure Maps, a Microsoft platform of geospatial APIs, powered by world-class mobility and location technology partners.

Securing Smart Cities

Just like many other “online” services, Smart cities require protection.

To understand what we need protection from, it’s worthwhile to understand what is at stake. Trust and privacy is the answer.

Sometimes with implementation of smart cities, many societal concerns are often ignored. A privacy by design approach is currently shaping up, with privacy experts demanding privacy requirements be reflected in all smart technology departments.

It makes sense to ensure that the trust and privacy of people, corporations, government services, and communities are put first from design to base build.

In short, things have started changing within smart technology deployments. Protecting what matters, what if lost cannot be replaced. While it is easier to rebuild a server, it is never easy to rebuild a compromised identity.

Smart Cities Market in different countries

“There’s no such thing as dumb city in America,” says Bob Bennett, chief innovation officer for Kansas City, Missouri.

In Kansas City, there are 320 WiFi access points and more than two-dozen smart kiosks to support the city’s 54-block smart-streetcar route. This shows that the cities are getting smarter and smarter.

Over a half of world’s population lives in cities. United Nations expects this grows close to 70% by 2050. Mastercard is helping cities respond to this trend in a collective way with the City Possible program.

There was a ranking published in July of 2018 by Eden Strategy Institute. Here are some interesting observations from Top 50 Smart Cities of 2018/19:

  • European cities actively involved their citizens in developing their smart city projects,
  • American cities scored highly due to federal government competition which prompted City governments to develop effective smart city strategies,
  • Six Indian cities emerged among the Top 50 Smart City Governments with smart city plans co-created by citizens,
  • Large investments in Information and Communication Technology with highly-integrated public services, helped major Chinese cities to scale their smart city projects to millions of citizens
  • With experimentation on integrated data platforms, public-private partnerships, and innovation districts, some southeast asian cities at nascent stage were also admired.

This article attempted to look at Smart Cities from a bird’s eye view. While there are many researches underway, we’re headed towards a better future for humanity.

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