Dumb phones, dumb televisions, and even dumb refrigerators are going the way of the dodo bird, as many objects we interact with on a daily basis are being replaced by “smart” models. It appears that next on the chopping block are dumb cities, because the latest trend in the smart-sphere is the emergence of Smart Cities, which are poised to optimize the way urban populations go about their everyday lives.
Behind this transformation is the Internet of Things (IoT), where the deployment of sensors in new and existing machines will allow the collection of greater amounts of data. This, in turn, permits government officials to make better decisions about everything from trash pickup to hospital locations. Plenty of Smart City pilot projects are being carried out all over the world with a focus on improving waste management, healthcare, transportation, parking, housing, and all aspects of energy management from creation and distribution to utilization.
Many small success stories have emerged from these pilot projects. In Houston, for example, the city was losing close to 15 billion gallons of water annually due to leaks in city pipes. Using traditional technology, the leaks were extremely hard to pinpoint and fix. In 2015, the city rolled out intelligent pump controls and sensors to monitor water pressure, detect leaks, and even identify potential sites of future leaks. The roll out was a success, and the city has since saved billions of gallons of water.
In Denmark, the City of Copenhagen has undertaken one of the largest upgrades to a public lighting system, switching 20,000 of the city’s outdoor lights to LEDs, which is estimated to have reduced energy use by 57% in 2016. Part of this reduction is the result of dimming smart sensors. These smart sensors can discern ambient traffic and lighting and dim streetlights during times of reduced traffic or when the moon happens to be particularly bright, for instance. The sensors can also detect when a pedestrian or motorist is using the street and ensure that enough lighting is provided, dimming the lights after traffic has ceased.
Analytics, Design, and Security
While the merits of a Smart City model are evident, such rollouts are useless – or even dangerous – if a city fails to hire the right people or provide them with the tools needed to succeed. While a city may have an adequate number of sensors deployed with each one collecting mountains of data on traffic, climate, energy consumption, and more, this data is virtually useless if the city isn’t capable of analyzing and implementing solutions based on that data. As Smart Cities become increasingly popular, data scientists will be in high demand.
At the same time, the ability for city officials to easily manage Smart Cities is just as valuable. City officials require tools that allow them to understand the information provided by data scientists, and to easily get an overview of trends and current statuses (like power outages for instance). Web and app design and programming companies that can create intuitive platforms and functional dashboards that relay analytics in an easy-to-understand and simple-to-manage format will also be invaluable.
The same can be said for security. A takeover of a city’s IoT network could wreak havoc on its infrastructure and people. Hacked traffic lights, for instance, could cause a city to come to a standstill or even cause fatal accidents. Cities looking to implement Smart IoT solutions must be ready to hire the best and brightest security professionals and companies available.
The advancement of technology and the drop in associated costs has allowed IoT to flourish, making the implementation of Smart Cities around the world increasingly possible. City planners have an opportunity to bring about real and tangible change at an unprecedented rate thanks to the adoption of IoT technology, but only if they onboard the right people and companies. Running a Smart City is a monumental task, but the benefits are numerous. Just ask Houston.
Is your city looking to go ‘Smart’? Contact us to learn how an intuitive management platform makes the roll out up to 300% more effective.