What is a Smart City and how do they work?
A “Smart City” is the term for a locality which deploys advanced technologies to improve public services and the community overall. These technologies can vary from software, user interfaces, and communication networks connected through Internet of Things (IoT).
If IoT was scaled to encompass a city, what might that entail?
Here are five ways that Smart City technologies could impact you and your community:
Reduce traffic wait times
A study by McKinsey states that smart mobility applications such as intelligent syncing of traffic signals, real-time navigation alerts to drivers, and smart parking apps can help cut commuting times by 15–20 percent. Such smart mobility applications have been used in Moscow with fruitful results. The Deputy Mayor for Transportation of Moscow said thanks to the launch of their Intelligent Transport System, they moved from the most congested city in the world in 2010 to thirteenth in 2016 (according to TomTom Rankings), with traffic speed increasing by more than 13%.
Become more environmentally friendly
Smart City technology can be used in air quality monitoring, energy use optimization, electricity, water, and waste tracking, resulting in 15-25% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, 30-130 less kilograms of solid waste per year, and 25-80 litres of water saved per day.
Make you safer
Some statistics point to Smart City technology reducing crime by 30–40 percent and allowing 20–35 percent faster response time for emergency services. An example of these Smart City technologies which help reduce crime is Predictive Policing. Predictive Policing is used by police departments via location and person-focused algorithms to detect the ‘where’ and ‘who’ of crime activity.
Another advanced system used by Smart Cities are Acoustic Gunshot Detection Systems (AGDS). This technology uses acoustic and optical sensors to detect ‘when’ and ‘where’ a gunshot has been fired, alerting law enforcement to respond.
Another impact Smart-Cities will have is how much more efficient your city is run. Spain has been a prime example of this, with initiatives such as attaching sensors to all refuse containers and detecting their real-time capacity. This allows Spanish cities to only deploy waste-management recourses when needed. Spanish cities like Barcelona have also been using smart cycling systems to track where city bikes are and helping users find them though mobile apps.
Finally, Smart City technology can help you become more connected to your city and community. As an example, Toronto has been a leader on the connectivity front. Its ConnectTO program is working on multiple projects that improve how you can connect with your city through the internet. These projects include providing free Wi-Fi services to apartment neighborhoods, creating a COVID-19 Chatbot, and an Open Data project that provides free data on activity in the city to businesses or individuals upon request.
Ultimately, emerging and advanced technologies are being increasingly deployed throughout communities to improve municipal services and the communal environment. Beyond much of the buzz associated with Smart Cities are real, tangible impacts that can help communities usher in the digital age.