The world is quickly becoming urbanized. And to improve urban living - eyeing the future migration from rural areas to urban - the cities are adopting technological advancement to upgrade and innovate the cities.
To improve urban living and to optimize their resources, cities are folding internet-connected devices into streetlights, municipal infrastructure, parking meters, and more, composing what could be called the “technological” portion of a smart city. Working with big-name developers and up-and-coming startups, smart cities are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the quality of life for their citizens.
What Makes a City “Smart”?
Smart cities use intelligent solutions to optimize infrastructure and smart and responsive governance to engage citizens in the management of their city. A system of sensors, networks, and applications collect useful data, like traffic congestion, energy use, and CO2 levels. This data is used by the municipality to improve a city, including its transportation, buildings, utilities, environment, infrastructure, and public services.
1. Smart Transportation and Mobility
Traffic is one of the most prevalent concerns in cities. Congestion on the streets and highways not only leads to accidents but also to an excessive amount of CO2 emissions. To improve traffic flow, smart cities are implementing features like congestion sensors to divert vehicles, and smart parking meters to show available parking spots to drivers and to reduce driving and idling time.
2. Autonomous Buildings
Buildings are central to our everyday activities, but they also consume considerable energy. Cities like Singapore are looking to change this with innovative IoT-powered cooling systems. These devices optimize heating, cooling, and energy usage levels based on the activity of each room, saving up to 32 percent on HVAC costs. Similarly, Seattle uses smart analytics systems to reduce emissions for 45 percent of its city buildings.
3. Streamlined And Responsive Utilities
Water and electricity are central to our way of living, but they are often poorly managed. Using IoT, smart cities are monitoring energy use and adapting it to every situation. Cities are also using sensors to detect any leaks outside tanks and pipes, and they’re handing water management over to their citizens. New York City saved more than $73 million in water costs by allowing citizens to monitor their water use through automated meter readings.
4. Environmental Harmony
Considering our increased awareness of sustainability and global warming, smart cities use IoT to lower their carbon footprint. From filling their buildings with greenery to improving weather response planning, cities can monitor their pollution and CO2 levels. For example, Beijing has reduced deadly airborne pollutants by 20 percent by tracking the sources of their pollution—mainly construction and traffic—and by redirecting those sources accordingly.
5. Dynamic And Adaptive Infrastructure
Smart cities are improving their infrastructure by ensuring the stability of their buildings and roads. Innovations such as earth detectors can monitor areas and structures that are more prone to tremors, allowing the city to prepare and proof their infrastructure. Cities like Philadelphia and Seoul are also using IoT to keep more cars off the road and to lower waste collection. Seoul, for example, has reduced waste collection by 83 percent by installing smart waste bins around the city.
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