Development of Smart Cities
Smart cities are slowly becoming a reality; slowly on a global level, but for those cities determined to implement the necessary smart infrastructure, connected technology is often very rapidly impacting industrial, commercial and residential environments. Municipalities determined to implement smart technology both to save money and improve the lives of residents believe that initial capital outlay will show positive returns in both drawing leading businesses to the area and improving overall local administration. But in some places, the move towards smart cities is far more dramatic; Australia has recently announced a $50 million R&D program aimed at inspiring smart city innovations, a four-year plan intended to improve life in cities and suburbs through technology and open data, and with a backing of $31 million Scotland’s seven major cities are banding together for the development of several smart city projects.
The Future of Smart Cities
In the recent exploration of how IoT tech is likely to transform cities at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016 Gartner analysts suggested that by 2020 climate change, resilience and sustainability KPIs will feature in half of all smart city objectives. Says Bettina Tratz-Ryan, research vice president at Gartner, “With the Horizon 2020 goals of energy efficiency, carbon emission reductions and renewable energy in mind, many cities in Europe have launched energy sustainability, resource management, social inclusion and community prosperity initiatives.” Tratz-Ryan further suggests that thanks to Internet of Things (IoT) technology’s ability to analyze data contextually, the development of smart city execution can be accelerated.
Sensors are already at the heart of smart cities, and Gartner predicts that next year approximately 380 million connected things will be in use in cities helping meet climate change and sustainability goals; by 2020 we can expect a spectacular increase to 1.39 billion connected things. Says Tratz-Ryan, “The uptake of ride sharing, the electrification of public transportation, the support infrastructure for e-vehicles and congestion charging for combustion engines, all of those examples are driving cleaner air, producing fewer GHG emissions and saving energy, while improving the noise levels and ambiance on streets.”
We can also expect to see intelligent streetlights helping cities meet energy targets as well as BMS systems that could potentially halve energy consumption through better management of lighting, heating, and cooling.
The Benefits of Smart City Living
On a more personal level, the benefits of living in a smart city sometimes seem distant, and we’re not likely to notice the small changes taking place right away. However, once the coordination of smart devices is properly implemented, with lighting, traffic signaling and updating, venue and event synchronization, and the likes in place, the results could be dramatic. Today, some of the most recognized benefits of well-functioning smart cities include healthier communities, smart development, and sustainability.
(Image Source: http://www.libelium.com)
For the cities committed to improving public transport networks and Wi-Fi accessibility, results of reduced pollution and obesity levels are being reported along with citizens claiming a greater sense of engagement with their towns. And those cities implementing IoT and smart city networks are finding it easier to attract new residents thanks to cheaper living costs through both lowered utility and transport bills as well as improved social and cultural energy thanks not only to cleaner air but a burgeoning vibrant city life. Businesses, too, prefer cities with smart infrastructure thanks to reduced operating costs and it’s expected that the spending by the global business community towards incorporating smart technologies into buildings will be in the billions in 2017. Finally, with IoT tech enhancing usage of resources such as fuel, energy, water, and waste, environmental savings and sustainability receive a much-needed advance; IoT-driven smart lighting and water programs are already saving smart cities many millions of dollars each year.
Though some are lucky enough to live already in smart cities, most of us still have a bit of a wait; fortunately, the trend toward government participation and investment in such innovation has already begun.
By Jennifer Klostermann