Building the World’s Cities with Smart Technology

Matthew Margetts -
Smart Cities
Illustration: © IoT For All

According to the United Nations, the world’s population continues to rise. By 2050, it is expected to increase by 2 billion to reach 9.7 billion. Around 2100, it could peak at nearly 11 billion. Currently, about 55 percent of the world’s population lives in cities; in the coming 30 years, this percentage will reach 68%. This means more pressure on the world’s cities to provide better sustainability management, resource utilization, and urban areas development.

The solution lies in smarter cities.

What Is a Smart City?

Smart cities use IoT devices to collect and analyze data and allow automation and tasks to be carried out without human intervention. Diverse IoT devices are connected and communicate for different tasks.

Cities use the information collected to improve infrastructure, public utilities, services, and more. Smart cities are more efficient and safe to live in, providing a higher quality lifestyle for their residents.

The Growth of IoT

IoT is set to grow into one of the smartest collective and collaborative systems in history. According to numbers from the “Improving Internet of Things (IoT) Security with Software-Defined Network (SDN)” study, there will be more than 75.44 billion connected IoT devices by 2025, over 7.33 billion mobile users by 2023, and more than 1,105 million connected wearable devices users by 2022.

What does it mean to be a smart city? Already, the overall value of worldwide deals related to smart cities between the first quarter of 2019 and the last quarter of 2020 totaled $17.24 billion. This represents a 123.48 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase. Different sectors of smart cities include:

  • Smart homes: Residences containing devices connected to the internet. Devices such as lights, fridges, and televisions communicate with each other and share data to users.
  • Smart healthcare: Wearable and nonwearable devices that can monitor and measure the activities of user health, measuring temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and many other factors.
  • Smart environment: Intelligent sensors installed for the development of city infrastructure. These sensors control and monitor the conditions of the surroundings (such as air quality and lighting) to provide a healthier environment.
  • Smart transportation: Optimized services and innovative devices enhance city transportation. These services can include smart parking, traffic flow, number plate recognition, supply chain management and so on.
  • Smart surveillance: A diverse array of security and surveillance devices are installed around the city to prevent incidents from occurring and for quick action in case of an emergency.

According to a study by IoT Analytics, smart cities prioritize IoT technology in several interesting ways. The top priorities among decision-makers from some of the world’s leading smart cities are:

  • Connected public transport (74%)
  • Traffic monitoring and management (72%)
  • Water level / flood monitoring (72%)
  • Video surveillance and analytics (72%)
  • Connected streetlights (68%)
  • Weather monitoring (68%)
  • Air quality / Pollution monitoring (68%)
  • Smart metering – water (66%)
  • Fire / smoke detection (66%)
  • Water quality monitoring (64%)

Let’s take a look at these smart city applications in more detail.

Public Transport

Key goals of any city’s public transport system include greater efficiency and reliability. Smart technology is key to enabling just this. For example, the Polish city of Lublin implemented an innovative passenger information system for connected public transport that revolutionized the city’s bus transit system. Smart devices were installed on vehicles to transmit real-time data to a dispatch center software. This software then relays that information to electronic displays at bus stops and online portals to inform users of the real-time status of their transport options.

Traffic Monitoring

Managing traffic flow is one of the biggest challenges for today’s cities. Smart city devices can ease traffic pain points and improve safety. In Los Angeles, the government installed a network of sensors that transmit real-time traffic updates to a traffic management platform. The platform then adjusts the timing of traffic signals to optimize traffic flow.

Water Level Monitoring

Especially with the real impacts of climate change and urban sprawl, flooding has become a problem in cities worldwide. Smart sensors installed in key areas can detect water levels and report flooding incidents or potential flooding incidents in real-time.

Smart Video Surveillance

Smart video surveillance has been around for a long time, and these cameras are commonly used to police the world’s roads and highways. ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras are also commonly used by law enforcement to identify stolen cars, enforce traffic control, collect tolls and deter crime. Today’s smart video surveillance cameras work within an integrated security system to predict crimes before they even happen.

Connected Streetlights

Connected streetlights and lighting solutions have many benefits, including reducing energy consumption and costs, reducing maintenance costs, increased public safety, safer traffic, and measurable environmental impact. Today’s smart streetlights can also double up as EV chargers and monitor emissions and serve as wireless broadband connection points.

Weather Monitoring

Smart, real-time, and predictive weather monitoring helps city management predict and manage weather disruptions and severe weather events.

Snow forecasting could be help cities assess where best to station their snowplows (as well as assess the maintenance status and availability of snowplows). Determining where extra cooling may be required (especially for senior citizens or disabled residents). Micro-forecasts of rain, fog, and snow could be linked to accident data to predict and prevent the likelihood of traffic accidents. Wind and temperature data allows first responders to plan where best to position firefighters to deal with a wildfire.

Air Quality Monitoring

Smart cities aim to provide a decent quality of life to their citizens by offering a clean and sustainable environment. Air quality monitoring helps city management to identify and mitigate the sources of pollution. Using a network of low-cost air quality monitoring sensors, the city can detect sources of pollution and take corrective measures to improve the city’s environmental health.

Smart Metering

The smart meter or automated meter reader is a top IoT device among utility companies. These devices attach to or replace traditional utility meters to provide real-time consumption data, allowing the utility companies to manage energy flow more effectively. This includes identifying and implementing resource efficiencies for a lower carbon footprint.

Fire and Smoke Detection

Having fire and smoke detectors around a city improves emergency management and preparedness. Smart fire and smoke detection sensors provide real-time information about the direction, location, or magnitude. The prediction and early detection of fire and smoke in smart cities can reduce large-scale damage and improve public safety significantly, in addition to warning city management, mass warning systems that can provide emergency alerts to the city’s population.

Water Quality Monitoring

Water hygiene is a crucial aspect of city safety. One of the ways that water safety is enabled through smart technology is with an automated Legionella compliance system, which automates the process of Legionella management and compliance. Instead of manually taking readings of every water outlet, the system takes the temperature of the water and flushes the system at regular intervals. Automated reporting and record-keeping saves time and ensures accuracy.

It’s time for cities to graduate to a smarter solution.

Connected smart city devices make everyday tasks easier and more efficient while relieving pain points related to public safety, traffic, and environmental issues. To make smart cities viable, the technology needs to be scalable, affordable, secure, and easy to deploy. Smarter Technologies’ Orion Data Network ticks all the boxes, helping cities worldwide become safer, cleaner, and better places to live for the world’s growing population.

Matthew Margetts, Smarter Technologies Group

Guest Writer
Guest Writer
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All.
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All.