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Smart cities: The way forward

A city with which you can interact – a living city with which you can set up a reciprocal relationship and which can cater to your needs. Throughout the world such cities are being built right from Masdar in Abu Dhabi to Davao in Philippines. It is predicted that by 2050, about 75% of the world’s population will live in cities. This will put a huge strain on the already stretched resources of the city such as its transport system and emergency networks. To handle the huge influx of people our urban planners need to come up with new and innovative ways to increase the efficiency of existing resources while at the same time reducing costs and improving the overall quality of life of its citizens.

It would be such a great thing if our cities could interact with us and give us live status updates about water, power, sanitation, parking and emergency services. The information they would provide us would be so instrumental in improving our lives. This can be made possible by IOT which with its network of sensors, wireless networks and web and mobile-based applications can turn the concept of smart cities into a reality. IOT will help cities track their assets and behaviors, improve on their processes and controls which will enable them to deliver better service to their citizens. The huge amount of data generated by IOT will help city planners make informed decisions while at the same time reducing costs and improving economies of scales. In addition to identifying trouble spots IOT will also help provide solutions for the maintenance of these assets. By seeing to it that scarce resource are allocated properly and operate in an effective manner IOT can help in the creation of an extremely efficient city.

A smart city signifies an urban region which is extremely advanced in terms of overall infrastructure and where information and communication technology is the principal driving force. A variety of technological platforms are involved which includes but is definitely not limited to only automated sensor networks and data centers. A smart city in order to be recognized as one should include at least certain of these key aspects such as smart governance, smart technology, smart energy smart healthcare, smart building, smart infrastructure, smart mobility and smart citizen.

Smart Parking – A lot of traffic jam results from people driving around and looking for a parking slot. Under a smart city setup, sensors placed in parking meters will detect free spaces and direct motorists to the nearest available free parking slot. This will not only save a lot of time but also reduce congestion on the roads.

Smart Water – Metering water can help citizens manage and control their own usage of water. In France, Orange has installed about 1.2 million water meters which is helping people manage their water usage through the provision of real time data. Furthermore, consumers can even check their water consumption by an online account.

Smart Trash – Sensors placed in dustbins notifies the central system about the amount of waste contained in the bin. The system then analyzes the data provided to it and forecasts when the bin will be full. Depending on it garbage trucks are sent to the location to empty the bins.

Smart Environment – Sensors placed on bus roofs will measure the air quality and note down the levels of gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide in the air. The buses update this information in real time and residents through the use of a mobile app get an idea of the air quality.

Smart Lampposts – Sensors fitted into lampposts convert an ordinary lamppost into a wi-fi hub. The sensors can detect anything from Co2 emissions to rising noise levels. It would also have the capacity to turn off lights when no one is using the street saving up to 80% of the lighting bill.

Automated Traffic Signal – Traffic signals with sensors inform commuters of traffic jams and traffic accidents. This helps authorities respond faster in an emergency situation.

Self-monitoring in Patients – IOT will enable self-monitoring for patients where sensors detect an emergency situation and contact emergency care thus saving precious lives. Doctors too can remotely keep a tab on their patients informing them when a serious situation arises.

Smart Electricity Distribution – Smart grid systems allow customers to establish control over their electricity consumption leading to huge savings.

At present smart city projects are in a development stage and involve projects that are small scale in nature but with time they are going to improve and include larger scale projects. A time will come when the data infrastructure of our cities will matter as much as the real physical infrastructure and only then can we say that smart cities have truly arrived.

Other Smart city related articles:

Building a Smart & Safe City
Telcos painting Smart City Visions in Southeast Asia
Smart City vision Indonesia 2015 -2045; breakthrough in Automotive
Smart City” pilot projects to be rolled out in Thailand

By Sue Yuin Ho | May 1st, 2017

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