smart cities

The 19th century was a century of empires, the 20th century was a century of nation states. The 21st century will be a century of cities.” Wellington E. Webb

Robots? Flying cars? These are just a couple of futuristic images that might spring to mind when you think of a smart city. In fact, smart cities are very much a thing of the present, with cities like Singapore and London taking the lead.

Although technology underpins all the processes within a smart city, it is the citizens that make up its heart. Real-time data can be collected from all areas of a city – whether from mobile phones, sensors, beacons, or IoT devices  – from which we are able to gain a greater understanding of where resources are most needed. This ensures the cities we are building will work for the future and benefit the people who live within them.

So, with the global smart city market expected to grow 16% to reach more than $2.7 billion by 2024, what benefits can you expect in your everyday life?

Improved infrastructure planning

By tracking the movement of citizens through mobile phone signals, we can understand the smart city implications of population needs. In this way, local governments are able to determine hotspots of activity and understand the in-the-moment needs of the average citizen and respond accordingly.

Knowing where crowds are most likely to gather enables the diversion of resources ahead of time. Capturing popular walking routes determines where new shops or cafes could be set up and installing smart parking bays in frequently visited areas are both examples of the way in which cities can predict demand and provide accordingly.

Extra time in bed

In an IoT-enabled city, long commutes become a thing of the past. Embedding sensors within roads – as well as on traffic lights and cameras – allows insights to be gained into real-time traffic flow, enabling us to identify patterns and trouble areas. This leads to the smoothing of everyday traffic and the reduction of congestion, as well as harmful emissions caused by stop-start cars.

Moreover, with accident hotspots more easily identified, the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with authorities to optimise road networks will enable the proactive prevention of potential incidents, rather than their retrospective resolution.

A greener future

An ‘everything-connected’ city does more for the environment that just reducing traffic pollution. Through the use of sensors, the energy and water in a smart city can be tracked, and recyclable waste detected and disposed of accordingly within rubbish bins. Not only this, but the energy used by the city itself can be minimised – smart street lights, for example, can increase their light only when a person is near, dimming as they walk away.

This kind of city – a city that works in harmony with itself and responds to the real-time needs of individuals – will pave the way for a more sustainable future. Ultimately, integrating tech into urban infrastructure will make living in a city safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

Lauren Jones By Lauren Jones, Senior Account Executive