Technology is indeed transforming the day to day lives of people in leaps and bounds. Virtually all things are becoming “smart” nowadays. We’re all thankful we live in the age of smart devices–that our mobile phones, watches and laptops are giving us more than we could ever imagine decades ago.
Even greater than our handheld smart devices, the spaces we live in are now turning into “smart” ones. Smart building and smart homes that leverage connectivity to give convenience and intuitive services are increasing in numbers. And when we gather these spaces in one community, with people equipped with smart devices, a Smart City is born.
Smart Cities are the best places to live in due to many benefits it offers. Smart City improves public safety and health, gives convenience in transportation and doing business, and improves public services. In this article, we will tour 5 smart cities in the world that are actively part of the vast grid of IoT or Internet of Things.
There are various definitions of a Smart City. The differences are due to different ways of exacting what makes a smart city. Smart Cities are essentially a community that utilizes information and communications technology to improve lives and address urban challenges. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the core of every Smart City. IoT is the connectedness of physical objects in the city: the network of connections and the data produced by the connected objects all make a city “smart”
For instance, homes and buildings with smart security systems are automatically connected to the police, fire departments and hospitals for fast response. Data produced by traffic monitors can provide useful information with the help of analytics tools in order to improve traffic situation in the city. And infrastures with seismic sensors can monitor its health, do self diagnosis and help the city government in maintenance and public safety.
What makes a City “smart” are four components that work together. Cisco identified these four components imperative to achieve an Internet of Everything or network of networks of things.
People – The most essential component of a city, inhabitants are the main drive and the heart of all cities. Connected people generate data as they move and live their daily lives in the city. People are sources of data, process, commands and patterns that make a city smart.
Data – Connected people and things generate data that can be studied or analyzed to provide useful and relevant information. And as hoped, useful information are used by “things” and people to guide actions, decisions and response.
Things – One important thing that makes a city “smart” are the things e.g sensors, enterprise devices and consumer devices spread across the city that are connected with one another to share data and relevant information.
Process – right process makes all these components work in concert to address urban issues and problems e.g pollution or heavy traffic, and deliver right information or service to the right people at the right time.
Singapore is named the Smartest City by Juniper Research. Following over 40 metrics, this tech and financial hub proved to be ahead of the curve. In 2014, it launched a program that aims to become the first “Smart Nation” in the world. Currently, the city-state generates streams of data coming from innumerable cameras and sensors spread across its territory. With fiber-optics-enabled internet access all over the country, data are transferred and analysed, allowing the government to monitor traffic density, emergency signals, prevent crimes and even maintain cleanliness.
In addition, Singapore is developing a program that displays 3-D model of the city to monitor the crowd, traffic and public safety. It is also used for urban planning and disaster preparation. One prominent structure in the city are the humongous electronic trees, called Supertrees. These Supertrees work as a pleasant addition to the cityscape while also operating as temperature moderators. It absorbs and disperses heat and collects rainwater.
Despite being a newcomer in the roster of World’s Smart Cities, Chicago is seen to be leading the future of environmental research with its “Array of Things”. –sensor nodes dispersed throughout the city. In June 2016, the Array of Things or sensor nodes were disperses throughout Chicago and started to monitor the city. The sensors gather data on virtually everything, air quality, temperature, water level, traffic and even sound levels. This sensors, that captures the details of urban life, posits Chicago as one of the leaders in urban analysis. Moreover, the City is also active in empowering its people in the field of science and technology.
The city of London is one of the leading cities with broadband availability and connectivity. Over 80 public buildings and libraries along with 250 tube stations are connected. They even have a Datastore, an open data platform to serve its citizens and enterprises to use and develop open data applications e.g transport apps. London also has developed innovations in transportation such as intelligent road network management system that debuted in 2012 Olympics, and number plate recognition for traffic charges.
Since, 2012, Barcelona has been leading the world of smart cities. This smart city project is laid down with a foundation of extensive network of fiber optics covering 90% of homes. Thousands of smart meters are laid around the city to monitor and optimize energy efficiency. The asphalt roads have sensors to track places with less vehicles so driver are guided to open spaces for parking and less traffic. Also, lamp posts around the city are now LED for maximum energy efficiency. It can detect pedestrians nearby and turns off automatically when not in use to conserve energy. It is also used for the City’s wifi network, and sensors to monitor air quality.
Amsterdam have been the the leader in network connectivity, having one of the fastest internet connections in the world. One of the most important feature of this smart city is its own open source data platform. It lets people and organizations contribute to the public data in order to create apps and devices that address the issues and problems faced by its people. For instance, traffic is improved across the city, thanks to transportation apps built in open source city data. Also, the people are empowered to monitor noise and air pollution and light intensity in different parts of the city with the city’s open data.
And to further improve the city life with advanced technologies, there are “living labs” or communities in Amsterdam that serve as the testing ground for new initiatives to test effectivity and efficiency of new technologies and troubleshoot potential problems before letting it rollout in the whole city.
Micah de Jesus is a Digital Marketing Professional. She works as the Managing Director of GrowthScout SEO Services, an SEO & digital marketing firm in Quezon City, Philippines. She has a knack for making travel itineraries, writing about network operations center and perfumes.