Internet of Things or IoT, has so many and so broad applications in the Smart Cities that it is impossible to make a closed list. In general terms, they have a technological infrastructure capable of improving urban management in a qualitative way in different areas, such as the three ways iot is making smart cities that we will see in this post: transport, energy and urban furniture maintenance.
They do so by collecting, aggregating and using data intelligently in order to provide a better quality of life to their residents, from efficiency. To do this they take advantage of the data revolution of Big Data, as well as the sensors and data treatment technologies of low cost.
The same concept of IoT refers to a network based on data obtained from the online interconnection of physical objects. Specifically, it is through a specialized hardware as it reaches a connectivity that also achieves certain behaviors according to what is programmed.
Interactive sensor networks
In the context of intelligent cities, this advanced technology allows drawing the city of the future. Looking for solutions for a better municipal administration that, in many cases, are already a reality.
From the control and decongestion of traffic, improving energy efficiency or urban waste management, among an endless number of possibilities, IoT can make innovative contributions to cities.
The first one of the three ways iot improve cities, is about setting up a large interconnected ecosystem in which conventional resources and services gain in efficiency thanks to technology. The difference marks the use of this data obtained in real time to meet the needs of citizens.
Through the use of real time sensors, data are collected and converted immediately into usable statistics. At the same time, these interact with other processes, within that complex ecosystem that constitutes the smart city.
On the other hand, with smart cities as a pillar, the IoT provides an overview of the city, in order to be able to verify what happens at each moment, how everything evolves. Therefore, that network of interactive sensors also offers the keys to continue to increase its effectiveness continuously.
A clear example of how information collected in real time through sensors can be processed and used to improve the lives of citizens, is Urbo, a dashboard for SmartCity, developed by Geographica along with Telefónica, which allows clearly and in a simple way to process the information from the sensors, visualize it, analyze it and make decisions at the same time that it makes the life of the citizen easier.
Transportation, maintenance and energy are key issues in cities and, precisely because of this, IoT can make a big difference when it comes to implementing smart city projects.
Transport: mobility and quality of life
Transportation is one of the ways in which the IoT is making the cities more intelligent. In terms of mobility, the challenge is to provide citizens with easy access, ideally ecological and economic resources to respond to their daily needs.
The IoT will help to integrate the different modes of transportation, as well as reduce congestion, facilitate parking and optimize the urban space, scarce by definition. The Stockholm case is interesting, one of the pioneering cities in this respect.
In the capital and most populous city of Sweden, traffic jams not only reduce the quality of life of its inhabitants and trigger emissions of greenhouse gases, but also influence the city’s productivity.
Already in 2008 at the city’s entry points, 18 variable charging toll points were created that penalized peak hours. A measure that showed its great effectiveness, achieving a traffic decrease of around 14 percent.
In other words, the city saved 40,000 vehicles a day and reduced emissions by applying innovative technology that does not involve complexity and brings great benefits in order to boost mobility, protect health and the environment.
As expected, the developments are currently far beyond. A few days ago Drive Sweden– a government organization exclusively dedicated to the development of smart mobility in Sweden – published an article of the World Economic Forum that by 2030 expect that the jams are a thing of the past, thanks to the Smart Mobility.
However, the case of Sweden is not isolated, nowadays we can find cases of success in which IoT has allowed to develop systems that improve traffic and contribute to improve the lives of citizens. Some examples are:
Smart Santander: The sensors located on the streetlights allow to detect the traffic density and therefore, through an application, say where there is more possibility of being able to park and / or calculate alternative routes to reach the same point of the city.
Birmingham: This project goes even further. In May 2016, they presented an application that allows to know what the traffic situation will be in the next 30 minutes in a certain point of the city with a relatively low margin of error. Another of the wonders of IoT.
Maintenance of urban furniture
Achieving an efficient maintenance of the urban furniture is another of the great challenges of the cities. A pending subject that ranges from the most common infrastructure, such as street lights or litter bins and containers, to banks or services related to all of them.
For example, High-tech containers are becoming popular in many cities. The designs and features are very varied, from including Wi-Fi connection or including solar panels to compact the garbage until notify the collection service that need to be emptied.
Returning to the solution mentioned above, Urbo, allows to visualize in real-time the status of all the containers of the city for which it has been implanted, thus, it allows detecting any type of anomalies and analyzing historical data, it helps, for example planning the garbage truck routes based on actual needs. On the other hand, real-time information provides great accuracy that creates new opportunities for handling more efficient the resources.
Among other possibilities, residents can report damage to urban elements through smartphones or, using light signals, warn them that the bins are full.
Energy: smart efficiency
The last one of the three ways iot improve cities, is the fundamental support in the integration of detection and actuation systems connected to the network in order to optimize the energy consumption.
On the other hand, an essential aspect to face growing urbanization, especially to reduce the environmental impact of cities, each time more difficult to manage without resorting to a smart city vision.
In this sense, the management of the city from a sustainable approach requires the reduction of energy consumption through new proposals, while reducing energy needs.
The installation of smart public lighting along with civil warnings in case of danger, for example, help both to better energy consumption and to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants, whih can save lives.
Citizens, meanwhile, become both users and actors, favoring the development and smooth functioning of these smart services. Its active role can help to design, and then improve with its use, innovative projects in areas such as those mentioned.