“A Smart City is where Nature and Scientific technology can collaterally synchronize their co-existence. Smart cities would emerge without creating confining dystopic pits between traditional orient and reformist orient.”- Midori Hailsky
2020 has taken us into the next decade, which promises to be the beginning of the Smart Era! We have already been introduced to several smart devices and are aware of the benefits they offer. The next innovation on the horizon is Smart Cities! Smart Cities are expected to become a reality in the near future. And, most urban cities are vying for the tag of “Smart City.”
Smart Cities are cities that digest digital transformational trends to offer a better quality of life to their citizens.
With the help of the latest technological trends, Smart Cities address issues such as:
A look at some interesting data on reveals that Smart Cities are poised to become a reality in the future that is not so distant:
At the core of the transformation of cities into Smart Cities is IoT!
The IoT powered Smart City is capable of rerouting traffic around congestion in real-time, automatically scheduling repairs for faulty infrastructure such as street lighting or bridges. It can provide protection to citizens and businesses from crime while intelligently managing energy usage and pollution.
With IoT based lighting systems street lighting will become a part of networked urban infrastructure.
Smart lighting entails LED luminaires connected to a centrally controlled software network. This will enable illumination of various urban areas precisely according to their lighting requirements. The demand-driven lighting will optimize energy requirements besides reducing carbon footprint drastically cutting down the municipal electricity costs. Street lighting poles will be able to serve as data stations with sensors for adaptive lighting, weather and pollution monitoring besides monitoring parking spaces and recharging batteries of electric cars.
An IoT based lighting system can run directly over a centrally managed street lighting grid. It will also offer lighting based traffic control and management, allocation of parking spaces, commute information, etc. A single network of the lighting system will be able to provide precise information on the electricity consumed by each light and each phase. This will eliminate the problem of electricity theft besides enabling proactive maintenance if energy leakage is observed in a particular network.
Smart Traffic Management
Smart traffic management becomes imperative as urbanization becomes a global trend. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, nearly 60% of the world’s population will migrate to urban areas by 2030. The infrastructure in cities needs to adapt to the rising population else traffic congestions and other hazardous conditions will worsen.
IoT comprising a variety of sensing technologies and highway cameras can help municipalities to understand traffic patterns. This enables the planning of infrastructural upgrades and intelligent traffic management using real-time data. This planning not only improves the flow of traffic but also reduces accidents.
IoT collects data from sources such as traffic cameras, GPS of vehicles, sensors, etc. This data is analyzed to get insights into the traffic patterns. The data is available on a geospatial map representing the normal traffic flow and areas with heavy traffic, which enables officials and operators to control traffic and simplify response to different conditions.
With the coming of automated cars that communicate with things to make choices on their own, IoT can help alert drivers from entering to enter places with heavy traffic besides enabling them to avoid collisions.
Smart Environment Protection
IoT is an eco-friendly technology that beneficial to the environment. IoT environment monitoring applications work with the help of sensors that monitor the quality of air/water, atmospheric conditions, soil conditions, movements of wildlife, and their habitats, etc.
IoT powers smart farming, which impacts the environment positively. The sensors help the utilization of composts and plant assurance items besides providing information about soil conditions. IoT also helps farmers controlling production and soil conservation.
Another important application of IoT is energy conservation. IoT powered atmospheric relief techniques have the potential to reduce the worldwide environmental change by 16.5% by 2020. Smart homes, smart buildings, smart street lights, etc. optimize energy utilization, thereby making reducing the overall energy consumption.
IoT helps in controlling the quantity of waste disposed at regular intervals which avoids waste build-up. It also enables using the end residue for developmental activities like road building or supplying residue gas to power stations.
Water management and precision agriculture are vital for water conservation. Agriculture is one of the biggest users of water globally. Farmers use nearly 70% of the world’s freshwater. However, 60% of this water gets wasted because of leaky irrigation systems, inefficient practices adopted, and the cultivation of thirsty crops. (Source: World Wildlife Fund). IoT sensors and actuators offer farmers better visibility over their operations. This enables them to optimize water usage and minimize waste.
IoT powered water management systems can be incorporated at the consumer level as well by installing smart water sensors in homes and apartments. These devices coupled with data analytics can provide residents, insights on the quantity of water used, thereby enabling them to conserve water.
Deforestation is another matter, of grave concern. According to data, nearly 6.5 billion trees are lost yearly due to human activities and natural disasters! At the UN Climate Summit, a resolution was made to restore 350 hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030.
IoT technology is the power behind this exercise. It will help in areas such as precision agriculture, deploying automated technologies to reduce labor requirements and expenses, besides deploying drones to determine mapping patterns, etc.
IoT is also being used for detecting disasters and mitigating their impacts. The Internet helps connect sensors to several cloud-based servers. The sensors detect motions close to the epicenter of earthquakes and the information is transmitted to data centers which issue warnings to the residents.
IoT in Water Treatment
IoT in water treatment entails the installation of smart sensors at different points in the water system. These sensors collect data and pass it to the monitoring system. The data passed could comprise inputs about water quality, changes in temperature and pressure, detection of water leaks and chemical leaks.
Data is sent wirelessly through reliable communication channels from physical objects to computers with smart analyzing software. This helps provide valuable insights to engineers, technicians, etc. The IoT sensor data can also be accessed through apps on smartphones and tablets. This data is analyzed, and corrective action is taken.
IoT can also help detect residual chemicals in water after the treatment. This input helps assess the efficacy of the selected treatment process and ensure that the chemicals released are in the permissible limits.
Although the list is not exhaustive, these are some ways in which IoT is powering cities to become Smart Cities!
All these applications of IoT go on to indicate that IoT will play a vital role in making cities more livable, enjoyable, and safer while making them economically sustainable.