When you hear the term smart cities, what do you picture? Do you think of automatic streetlights, robotic service workers or self-service shopping?
Once upon a time, these ideas would have seemed far-fetched and way too futuristic. However, the world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and the concept of smart cities is no longer just a concept. It’s a real possibility; several cities across the globe have implemented smart technologies, improving the cities immensely.
While it’s no secret that technological advancements have caused many of the issues - especially environmental- and climate-related ones - we face today, it could be technology that proves to be the one thing that could help us. Specifically, the Internet of Things (IoT).
Now you might be wondering how this may be possible. Keep reading to learn more about smart cities and the ways in which IoT is being implemented and benefiting smart cities across the world.
What is a Smart City?
The term ‘Smart City’ has developed many different definitions to describe what it is that makes a city ‘smart’.
For a general overview, a smart city refers to a city that has adopted smart technology and sustainable methods to collect data, manage assets and create optimised environments that benefit the public and private sectors and improve the daily lives of its residents.
The insights we gain from that data can then be used to manage assets, resources and services, making life a lot more efficient, sustainable and – if done correctly – far greener.
What is the Impact of IoT in Smart Cities?
The overarching aim of smart cities is to use smart and advanced technology to optimise the function of a city from all angles of the economy and way of life for citizens.
There are many ways that IoT can make changes to our way of life, positively impacting our everyday routines and changing how we treat our environment. We can reduce our carbon emissions with smart ride-sharing transport and city bikes activated through cell phones and self-driving vehicles.
We can monitor our energy efficiency and consumption and create IoT systems that use this data to only use energy when necessary, e.g. smart LED street lights that can be dimmed/brightened depending on the time of day and year.
We can improve waste management with things like solar technology for trash compactors to power them and sensors that alert the company to the need for them to be emptied. This uses reusable energy and also means that the activity for lorries and trucks is lowered, reducing fuel consumption.
With IoT, we can engage the public to contribute to the solution too and enable them to track their own energy consumption and environmental impact. This technology is also fascinating and, in some cases, far more efficient and even fun to use, creating engagement that will benefit the environment overall.
Examples of Smart City IoT Technologies
Rapid technological advancements mean that there are various ways IoT technology can be used in several areas to create and benefit smart cities, such as:
- Smart utility meters
- Smart transport
- Smart energy grids
- Smart waste management
- Smart air quality monitoring
There are already smart cities in the world, transforming the lives of the citizens who inhabit and paving the way to showcase that smart city evolution and digital transformation work!
1. Singapore Smart City
As the first city to be known as a ‘smart nation’ way back in 2014, Singapore is perhaps the most widely recognised smart city in the world. And when you take a look at what they’ve achieved, it’s easy to see why they hold this title.
Through the years, Singapore has harnessed the power of technology and IoT to create an efficient and sustainable way of city living – from connected healthcare projects to support Singapore’s ageing population to advanced mobility solutions for accessible and affordable public transportation.
These are just some of the features Singapore has taken up in its smart city evolution, with new projects emerging, such as the ‘Vehicle-to-Everything’ (V2X) project, which could see all cars become self-driving in the city by 2025.
2. Barcelona Smart City
Barcelona is known for being one of the first cities in Europe to develop a smart city environment. The smart technologies implemented have enabled the city to become more sustainable, resourceful and data-rich – promoting the growth of a new economy and improving the well-being of citizens.
Just some of the smart city features Barcelona has adopted include:
- Smart street lighting to be more energy efficient and cost-saving.,
- Smart bins to detect the collection and amount of waste,
- Smart irrigation system to give data on temperature and air conditions to enrich plant growth.
3. New York Smart City
Renowned as the most populated city in North America, New York is a go-to destination for its cultural, financial and entertainment stronghold. However, the city’s ever-increasing population has brought challenges for energy use, waste and pollution.
To combat these increasing concerns, New York has begun its journey of transitioning to a smart city by adopting new technologies and practices. Most of these technologies have a focus on helping pollution and energy use:
- Smart garbage and recycling bins powered by solar energy detect the waste smell, amount and location to prevent the overflow of trash and increase efficiency in bin collection.
- Smart sensors have been installed across the city for a variety of use cases to improve traffic flow (a huge problem for NYC, as you can imagine) and detect water cleanliness and air quality monitoring.
These are just some of the ways cities around the world are adopting smart city technology to improve not only the lives of the citizens but begin the march to a much greener and more sustainable planet.
Blue IoT and the ‘Encompass Blue’ Platform
Many companies are introducing new platforms that support the concept of Smart Cities, one of which is the Australian-based company Blue IoT. This company has created a platform called ‘Encompass blue’, which is an enhanced online platform for virtual monitoring and control of buildings, maintenance, facilities, spaces, health, well-being, safety and security.
This platform can be attributed to any of the following sites:
- Office & Residential
- Hospitals & Aged Care
- Cinemas & Theatres
- Shopping & Entertainment
- Data Centres & Comms Rooms
- Water & Energy Utilities
- Mobile Assets
IoT in Smart Cities: A Summary
There are many definitions of what a smart city is. These cities implement smart technology to create optimised environments that benefit the everyday lives of those living there. One way these cities are becoming a reality is through the implementation of IoT technologies.
From smart bins to clever waste management systems, IoT technologies are making city environments far more efficient. Today, many companies are hopping on this new technology and creating products and services that can help cities to become smarter.
One example is Blue IoT. We recently hosted the founder of Blue Iot, Bob Sharon, on The IoT Podcast, and chatted about their platform, Encompass Blue, which works through a cloud platform, keeping and storing data online and noticing trends that can then be used to optimise services. If you’d like to watch the full episode, click here.