The Transformative Role Of IoT In Smart Cities

Posted on July 18, 2017

With global migration to urban areas continuing to grow, cities across the world are having to find increasingly inventive and sustainable methods to support these burgeoning populations. More than half the planet’s population resides in urban areas and according to Cisco, this figure will increase to sixty percent by the year 20501. Naturally, these huge influxes are making cities around the world increasingly busy and unpredictable places to live. Due to the growing demands of expectant populations, governments and corporations around are rapidly trying to find and implement innovative ways to meet the challenges these megacities pose.

Already, there has been a move towards the age of the “smart city” – an amalgamation of intelligent systems, technology, people and the environment. Tech leaders of the world are looking at cities such as Singapore – a city where the entirety of its populous lives in urban areas – as a shining example of how to transform an ordinary city into a smart one. In any given urban environment, there exists a divergent array of dislocated segments. The Internet of Things (IoT) plays a vital role in daily operations of a smart city by acting as the glue that makes a smart city an interconnected whole, allowing them to operate with efficiency and fluidity.

Through effective collection of big data via a variety of sensors around a city, resources and assets are monitored which facilitate the management and connectivity of massive amounts of people, allowing cities to combat every day problems with seriously smart solutions, in turn, transfiguring the organisation and services they provide.


How The Internet of Things  Can Help Transform A City

Smart Buildings and Infrastructure

 Property managers across the globe are installing IoT devices in their buildings to improve overall efficiencies and to reduce financial costs. There appears to be a general move towards the idea that the IoT can greatly benefit the management of a building. A study conducted by Daintree Netwroks highlighted that around sixty percent of property managers across the United States of America have incorporated IoT systems into their daily management with forty three percent acknowledging that IoT solutions will be a major part of their operations within the next five years2.

For instance sensors can save property managers enormous amounts of money through the installation of sensors into communal rooms that are not consistently inhabited3. This means that lights only turn on when someone enters the room. Another ingenious implementation of the IoT concerns the usage of smart grids. A study conducted by the European Commission has stated that by the year 2020, seventy-two percent of houses in the European Union will have invested in smart electricity meters for their homes with a further forty percent owning a smart gas meter2.  This installations will not only help save money but will also help towards the focus of adopting a more ecologically friendly way of life. A variety of cities around the world are trying increasingly resourceful and smart techniques. Amsterdam has recently begun supplying households using the city’s smart grid with solar panels and energy storage units. Using the IoT and smart batteries, the grid is relieved from unnecessary stress as well as allowing the homeowners to amass energy supplies which can be used during peak hours2.

The Joys of Smart Parking

The generally agreed upon consensus regarding the search for a parking space, is that it is an infuriating waste of time. In fact, a study funded by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) has discovered that German drivers waste on average five hundred and sixty million hours per year looking for vacant spaces4. This has seriously damaging effects on the environment due to the heinous amount of fuel and exhaust fumes that are being blown into the atmosphere. However, the need to find a parking space in an increasingly busy world is not solely a German problem.

A number of cities around the world experience the same issue and as a result, governments have invested time and effort into the search for a speedier solution. A Spanish city called Santander, has harnessed the power of the IoT to help their motorists. The government has installed over four hundred sensors throughout the city. When the sensors detect a free parking space, they send the data to the cloud via the Internet. Motorists connected to the parking App are alerted and consequently drive directly to the space, saving time and resources4.

Intelligent Waste Collection

Another brilliant use of the IoT and smart sensors can be found in the progressive city of Amsterdam where they have decided to bring their methods of waste collection to the twenty-first century. The city council has installed more than two thousand bins with smart sensors. These intelligent little sensors measure the rubbish capacity of the bins. Upon reaching maximum capacity, the data is sent to the operating system via the cloud network where waste disposal teams are subsequently informed of the bins location. This innovative system has resulted in a massive reduction of wasted time, as rubbish removal teams now focus bins that are actually full, directing their resources in the appropriate places, instead of collecting half-full bins on a regular basis4.

Smart Services

The IoT has the potential to save a city’s time and financial resources up to the millions with smart city technology. An inventive use of IoT sensors can be found in Chicago, where predictive analytics gathered from sensors placed around the cities dumpsters have resulted in a twenty percent increase in pest control5. Using bin sensors has also enabled the city to crack down on health and safety violations by analyzing the restaurants where nearby bins regularly overflowed. However, the use of sensors goes beyond keeping an eye on overflowing bins. The city of Chicago is in the process of installing fifty sensors throughout the city. These sensors will be placed on bridges in order to alert the appropriate authorities in the case of freezing, as well as in Lake Michigan which will help to ensure the maintenance of healthy drinking water5.

Throughout the world, cities are using the IoT to properly manage their ever-expanding cities. The innovative and resourceful ways that have been mentioned are testament to the global effort to make the world’s cities more efficient, healthy and resourceful places to live. As populations continue to increase, which they will inevitably do so, these integrated concepts will have to become continuously more ingenious to meet the insatiable needs and desires of the human race.