At the beginning of the 19th century only 2 percent of the world population had lived in cities. By 2050 about 70 percent of the global population is forecasted to live in urban areas. Already now rapidly growing cities are faced with the challenge to reduce the environmental pollution, to maintain mobility and power supply as well as to increase security measures.
The technological transformation is changing our reality very fast year by year. The real revolution is predicted to happen due to the concept of the Internet of Things. Smooth traffic flow, efficient facilities for heat and power generation and sustainable solid waste management are just a few features of a smart city.
What does smart city actually mean?
Smart cities represent a new kind of urban areas providing more comfort, security and sustainability.
It means smarter transport networks, water supply, waste disposal facilities as well as lighting and heating systems. Moreover, it includes responsive city administration, safer public spaces and meeting the needs of the inhabitants.
The cities of tomorrow
The city of the future is smart. The entire public infrastructure is connected to the Internet. The intelligent algorithms calculate from all the data the most efficient way of life: for example, how you can reach the target place most quickly.
In fact, smart cities already exist. Some of the technologies mentioned below are the reality. The others will become a standard in the nearest future.
The roads will be equipped with special sensors, robots and other systems to improve driving comfort. The heating elements will eliminate road icing. The use of nanotechnologies and self repairable materials will keep public roads in good conditions. Additionally, the sensors installed into the roads will inform drivers about dangers and unexpected incidents. Moreover, the sensors will be able to send the information to the technical services about the problems on roads or areas that require repairing.
Solid waste management
An interesting solution for a smart city is an intelligent management of municipal waste: smart sensors will be installed in waste containers that will gather constantly the filling level data of bins and generate information for optimized waste collecting routs. Already now in New York there are connected bins alerting trash collectors when they have to be emptied.
Green space monitoring
Smart sensors will monitor environmental factors for urban green spaces. For example, smart sensor systems measuring real-time temperature and humidity allowing irrigation by remote control. Smart sensors in forests will help to control the emissions, define fire danger zone and eliminate fire expansion.
Air quality monitoring
In big cities the air pollution limit is often exceeded. Smart sensors located across the cities will be able to recognize the area where the concentration of harmful dusts is too high. It will have a positive impact on reducing air pollution levels and, as a result, improve human health and environment.
Water quality monitoring
The global population growth and water scarcity make smart water management extremely important. Smart sensors that collect and transmit the most relevant water quality data will be used for predictive analysis. It will enable to control constantly the quality of supply water, detect chemical leakages in rivers and sees and inform in real-time about the current status of pollution in waters.
Smart parking lots
A big part of traffic jams in cities are caused by the drivers searching for a parking lot. The installation of smart sensors in the parking spaces of the city centers will help drivers to plan their parking place already before they start driving.
Street lights provide citizens with safety and security. Due to the remote control of city lightning, individual lights can be switched on or dimmed depending on traffic, time of day or season. Smart lightning solutions will help to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Intelligent transport systems
The main goal of the ITS is to adapt automatically to the current traffic density, time of year, time of day and infrastructure. The intelligent traffic lights controlling movements of driving vehicles in the city can successfully replace the police that regulate traffic in the critical situation. And there’s more to expect from the connected traffic lights. For instance, in Rotterdam smart lights turn green faster for cyclists when it’s raining heavily.
The future belongs to the smart cities. Entering a new high technological era, cities need to become more efficient, sustainable and concurrently meet the citizen’s needs. The IoT as an intelligent connected network is expected to be the key to a ‘smarter’ urbanization.
Read more about Internet of Things