Smart cities focus on existing and providing quality services and facilities in the best available level of efficiency, resource-savings, healthy environment, while fulfilling the needs of its occupants and visitors. This is often done through the use of data and technology.
There are many key technologies in a smart city, but this article will explore the 4 main technology feature in a smart city.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The key feature of the Internet of Things (IoT) is connectivity. In smart cities, IoT helps connect devices, buildings, vehicles, and municipal facilities with each other. This is where transfer of data takes place, devices ‘communicate’ and generate intelligence based on data, as well as eventually improve services delivery. Examples of IoT include smart meters for enhanced utilities management and quality consumption, intelligent traffic signals that moderate traffic effectively based on real-time traffic flow and GPS data, smart parking that detects and compile data on space vacancy or occupancy, and e-governance applications that reduces users’ waiting time and speed up crucial services needed. When devices are connected and communicating data with each other, users can experience a smoother, more seamless access to services, and cities can manage their resource use more effectively.
When large amounts of data are analyzed, and newer upcoming data are anticipated, processed, and leveraged for intelligence outputs, cities will be able to manage its internal activities and processes, resource consumption, and plans for the future. The data output generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) application can help not only in terms of cost-savings, but also assist in decision-making, and even guidelines or policy formulation for the city. The amount of data generated in a city is massive, and require AI to manage the extent of its volume and analysis. AI is useful in route planning for autonomous public transportation, autonomous public services and delivery, as well as smart healthcare facilities.
Sensors work synergistically with IoT and Artificial Intelligence to detect, collect, and transmit important data needed for the system to analyze and communicate, for integrated decision-making. Sensors help a system improve its process by collecting and transmitting data about its environment, and allowing the system to make adjustments (within an optimum range) on the ongoing process or operations to improve execution and efficiency. Examples of sensors include the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Sensors which eases tracking of visitors and vehicles in a specific space and area. Sensors also work to detect vehicle movement and allow easy mobility of people and goods. In intelligent traffic systems, sensors combined with Artificial Intelligence reduce traffic congestion problems.
Geospatial technologies provide extensive location-based data that improves accuracy, speed, and cost-effectiveness of projects. Using geospatial technologies enables data to be utilized in optimizing operations, obtaining details of a location’s condition, its functions and service performance, as well as provide insight to residential and visitors’ activities.
An example of this is the OneService app launched in Singapore where users are able to contribute image data and report its corresponding issues to the location-based system app, which can be accessed by the municipal authorities for further action. Another example is the ArcGIS Online cloud resource in Canada, that supported a streetlight replacement project by detecting their locations and easing their inspection runs. An integrated map was also created and named as the Hamilton Streetlighting Story Map, which shared updates on their city’s complete streetlight upgrading project. The streetlights were replaced with newer cost-effective LED, and the Story Map shared real-time information on installation timelines, materials used, installation completed, and amount of energy saved in one integrated map journal that is accessible to the public.
Smart Cities for the People
Based on the key technologies that can be found in a smart city, its full role can be interpreted in various ways. It functions in easing the city’s daily operations, increasing efficiency of common activities and processes, easing fulfillment and preservation of commercial and residential needs, reducing congestion, improving flow of services, smarter management of resources, as well as improving safety, security, and well-being of the city’s residents and visitors.
In a smart city, when various key technology are given the ability to harmoniously co-exist together, a wide range of seamless services and facilities’ efficiencies can help improve the people’s quality of life.