A smart city turns an urban area into a dynamic, open space. Smart cities are able to constantly monitor and update themselves as needed. Many countries have started work on developing “smart cities” with state and private organizations coming together to develop the technology necessary. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are just two examples, with investments in IoT for the countries expected to increase 19% in 2019.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the foundation upon which a smart city is built. How these cities develop connections between people is one argument for their development and adoption. It’s expected that there will be some 500 billion devices all connected together around the world by 2020. It’s up to telco operators to be able to provide these connections and manage the data that comes from them. So, why is developing a smart city so important? Well, over half (54%) of people in the world currently live in cities. It’s predicted that in the course of the next 25 – 35 years around 80% of the world’s population will be spread across 600 megacities. Smart cities also help to foster digital transformation.
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The Challenges of Developing Smart cities
While cities have their own effective communication networks in place already thanks to dense sensor networks and fiber technology, communication is still a real challenge for the development of smart cities. 2018 and 2019 alike have been rife with talk of 5G technology, with speculation that 6G is already being developed in China. Even so, that still wouldn’t be fast enough.
On top of this, the connections between the core infrastructure and sensors has to be able to support several applications. The data from the different devices has to be transferred to – and from – cloud storage and data acquisition has to be ensured. The information has to be collected and analysed and moved to special applications. It’s only after this that the residents in a smart city can use it.
The Benefits of Smart Cities
The urban operation systems of a smart city will be able to identify patterns of life within the city. Authorities will be able to view real-time data from IoT applications in order to better optimize and improve city life for the smart city. The input from computers will help improve services, boost public safety, decrease congestion, and make such cities overall more efficient. A great example of how computers can improve life in smart cities is the application of smart street lights. These lights can turn themselves off and on depending on how many people/vehicles are around, which saves energy. They can also be used to identify free parking spaces in parking lots to speed up the parking process. Smart traffic lights are able to monitor traffic and optimize traffic flow.
We’ve already seen the adoption of the next generation of gas, water, and power measuring systems. Amsterdam recently had a program that proved how effective solar energy can be managed and promoted sale of surplus energy to the central network. In terms of public safety, lights that have computer vision are able to send alerts about dangerous pollution and potholes. The main advantage of living in smart cities is the high level of security and safety. With widespread adoption of IoT, police will be able to use IP systems to detect crime and traffic jams across the entire city.
An Implementation Case of a Smart City
The city of Condo in South Korea was designed to be a smart city. Each and every square inch of the city is laid on fiber-optic cable that measures climate, leisure, water consumption, and energy consumption. Even children are generating some big data. They have bracelets and sensors on that make it easier to find them if they get lost. This presents some obvious advantages. Condo has far better energy consumption and a more streamlined transportation system compared to other cities and the government is able to track the health of adult citizens, among other things.
These changes to urban life are being felt outside of South Korea. American conglomerate AT&T announced a partnership with San José in April to develop a broad network to improve the current capacity of voice information and data. This will be done alongside AT&T laying the foundations for their 5G network, which they expect will be adopted in the city soon.
A number of vendors, including IBM and Cisco, demonstrate how healthcare, education, traffic infrastructure, smart buildings, and intelligent parking can be connected to a smart city system – as well as how these systems improve things for the community at large.