At this point, we won't spend much time defining a Smart City. If you want to dive into the concept of the Smart City, we invite you to review this short article on what a Smart City is that we shared previously.
To complete this, today we will explore some concrete examples of Smart City and the trends on the axes of work that, over time, prove to be those that have the most impact on the service to citizens.
Some examples of renowned Smart Cities around the world
In the United Arab Emirates, a city has been created whose objective is not only to be sustainable, but also to be self-sufficient in natural resources. This is the city of Masdar, in Abu Dhabi. Among their many plans, they have smart buildings that self-regulate indoor temperature and have systems to minimize the effects of the sun. Public transportation is self-sufficient, and the electrical grid is powered 100% by solar panels.
New York City is one of the most populous cities in the world and one of the benchmarks for Smart Cities in the United States. In 2015, the so-called "BigBelly" was introduced, trash cans equipped with wireless sensors to monitor their capacity, allowing the waste collection department to schedule routes more intelligently. The system includes a solar-powered waste compactor that allows for a five-fold increase in container capacity.
In Amsterdam, 67% of trips in the city center are made by bicycle. While this may seem incongruous in the context of promoting sustainable mobility, real traffic jams are caused during peak hours. In recent years, the city has deployed a sensor network and a traffic management system for bicycle users so that, during the busiest hours, alternative routes can be defined and offered to users to speed up travel.
The case of Barcelona city
There are also many examples of Smart City oriented projects in Spain, such as the city of Barcelona.
Urban transport systems have introduced hybrid buses, solar panels on bus shelters, and the bus network routes have been optimized so that 95% of trips can be made with a maximum of one connection between two destinations in the city. All of this was done using big data and analysis of ridership and their routes.
Waste management has also incorporated digital technology in a similar way in New York. A system of containers, capable of emptying, eliminates bad odors. At the same time, it incorporates real-time capacity sensors that communicate with a centralized system to optimize routes each day.
The city is also equipped with an intelligent public lighting system with low-energy bulbs and sensors capable of measuring humidity, temperature, air pollution and the presence of people or noise. In this way, the intensity of the lighting is adapted autonomously, reducing energy consumption. This is usually one of the first measures deployed in any Smart City as it offers direct savings on energy bills at a very reasonable cost and with a technology that has already been extensively tested in a real environment.
The trends for smart cities
Smart cities are not a futuristic vision, they are part of the present. We refer you to previous examples of how a public service can be optimized with the application of technological projects. But not everything is positive. Disruptive solutions can be invented and ingenious projects deployed, but in the medium term, which ones will really succeed in colonizing most cities? Which ideas or technologies or services will get the attention and budgets of city governments?
The first thought is that it will depend on each city. Depending on its geographic location, population, culture, idiosyncrasy or the political profile of its leaders at any given time, each city will define its priority challenges. Some will advocate for traffic management and sustainable mobility, others for water management, and others for citizen safety, among many possible areas of work.
Identifying these motivations for submitting the most appropriate proposals will increase the likelihood that an opportunity will become a real project.
That said, if we statistically analyze the most common projects, we find commonalities.
Technology infrastructure Data interoperability
A Smart City would not be a Smart City if it did not have sensors that collect a stream of data on which decisions can be made to improve or manage available resources. This information already has a large volume and will grow exponentially in the future. For this reason, it is necessary to work on sufficient storage capacity, robust communication networks, and management software that is as centralized and open as possible to ensure the proper processing of data in real time and interoperability between services and administrations. Without investing in these technology infrastructure capabilities, it is nearly impossible to move forward with Smart City deployment.
All the data collected and stored are very valuable information that must be protected to prevent cybercrime. Let's remember that many of them may refer to personal data or behavioral habits of citizens, who expect, in return, maximum confidentiality.
For this reason, cybersecurity is one of the critical aspects that administrations must work on. Citizens will only join the Smart City wave if they have some degree of confidence that their data is protected and that there is no fraudulent, partisan or economic use of it.
Intelligent traffic management
In large cities, traffic is usually a major problem that generates big headaches for managers and users. Moreover, its consequences in terms of air pollution and noise are very negative.
The implementation of technologies (cameras, sensors...) allowing to obtain real time data on traffic in order to optimize the trips is an obvious axis of work. For this, it is necessary to consider the use of traditional urban equipment as a platform for digital integration. For example, intelligent vehicle restraints can contain impacts when there are run-offs, but also prevent accidents and provide real-time statistical information.
Public lighting service or waste management
Street lighting is a very important expense for the city. For many years, it has been confirmed that an investment in self-controlled LED technology for lighting control is a technically robust and cost-effective project in the medium term.
The digitization of the waste collection service started later, but as we have explained, there are already many pilot projects in this line.
Useful projects for Smart Cities
Smart Cities cannot be the new excuse to place technology services without value. Each proposal must quantitatively demonstrate resource efficiency, sustainability, useful information or a better experience for people. And ideally several of these benefits combined.
MingoThings international, has been working for many years to provide optimal solutions for smart cities, thinking about the ultimate benefit that citizens will get, such as IoT platforms for the management of all entities that make up a city, smart management of urban and medical waste, ticketing at sports and cultural events... We work on all types of innovations that invite the private sector to transform urban facilities and give them a new dimension by integrating them into the Smart City ecosystem.
Whether you are a public administration looking for ideas, or a company interested in developing new products and looking for alliances, do not hesitate and contact us. We will be happy to help you and explore ways of collaboration.