Influenced by information technology, the world is changing rapidly. More and more active connectible devices contribute to the transformation of both separate industries and our familiar urban environment. Information technology and IoT facilities are integrating with urban infrastructures, resulting in the appearance of the “smart city” concept and its development.
The smart city term has not got the only and exact definition. It is interpreted quite broadly. However, in general, we can provide the following wording:
A smart city is a city where digital technologies are used to improve citizens’ quality of life, govern the city’s infrastructure, and manage its urban environment.
A smart city functions based on data collection, processing, and exchange processes which are then used to make decisions (by both the city government and individual residents at different levels). Connected sensors and IoT devices are used to collect the necessary data.
Benefits of Smart Cities as Development Model
More and more people choose an urban lifestyle. That is why an increasing need for efficient urban management arises. That is especially true for megacities.
If a city develops based on the smart city model actively using IoT and other information technologies, such a city and its residents will get several important benefits:
- Improved city utilities efficiency
- City lighting systems efficient management
- Improved the city’s traffic flow quality
- Increased public transport convenience and efficiency
- General increase of city residents’ living standards
- All city services operation centralized monitoring
- Increased road safety and timely transport services
- Resource use reduction and environmental improvement
- Collecting a large amount of data on different aspects of city functioning.
Where and How It Is Possible Use the Internet of Things in a Smart City
The number of active sensors is already huge. The most interesting thing is the possibility to combine them with each other and further expand the potential for the implementation of new solutions. Below are some examples of IoT technologies used as part of the smart city concept.
- Sensors installed at various points of the engineering infrastructure allow detecting emergencies.
- Energy resource meters (water, gas, electricity) send consumption data to the relevant service providers by themselves.
- Smart street lighting adapts its luminous power to changing lighting environments (for example, the rapid darkness onset due to weather changes).
- Smart garbage bin sensors detecting fill levels transmit data to waste disposal services to optimize collection routes.
- Self-driving vehicles are a prerequisite for a smart city. Driverless public transportation means and cars will help reduce congestion, carbon emissions, and accidents related to human error.
- ITS (intelligent transport systems) are used to control traffic lights, road info boards and signs, car navigation, car number plate recognition, and data flow integration.
- As for the security area, automatic face recognition systems are widely used. They analyze data from cameras installed throughout the city. Such systems allow locating criminals or assist in searching for missing adults and children.
- Intelligent parking solutions register when drivers leave certain parking lots and inform other drivers that free lots are available.
- Electric power, water and other resources consumption optimization directly influences the city’s environmental condition.
- Residents get informed electronically and receive common services, for example, from government agencies, exclusively online.
There are many more examples of the sort.
The Future of the IoT and Smart Cities
The more IoT is integrated into the urban environment and our daily lives, the more data on productivity, challenges, and opportunities for infrastructure and environmental development will be available. Out of all the technologies that have recently appeared, IoT can provide the strongest impact on the development of the cities of the future.
If you compare the past and the present, you can see that most cities have formed whole IoT ecosystems, surrounding their residents with multiple benefits of mobility, security, health care, and higher efficiency. The world is changing, moving confidently towards the next industrial revolution.
The fifth-generation (5G) mobile communication implementation will give a new impetus to the Internet of Things. That is the “new electricity” for the Internet of Things. The technological development will lead to the emergence of new solutions making modern cities more sustainable, more comfortable, and safer for their citizens.