The Smart City - What is it and where is it going?


Tom gets in his car that is parked in a space rented from another resident of SmartCity through Mobypark. SmartCity uses Mobypark data to reduce traffic, save energy and improve public safety. Tom opens Street Bump on his iPhone, which tracks bumps and automatically sends pothole information to SmartCity so road crews can make repairs. At ten locations around SmartCity this morning, police are on alert for crime based on machine learning and continually-updated crime data. Garbage collection is so optimized in SmartCity that seven employees handle trash of 35,000 residents. When the soil dries out in SmartCity parks, irrigation systems automatically turn on. Benches in the park are equipped with solar panels and USB ports for charging mobile devices. Throughout SmartCity, residents and tourists are pointing their smartphones (which are connected to the Internet through locally-provided Wi-Fi) at landmarks and transit stations to identify the sites, get directions, and check schedules.

All these examples are installed today. See details below.

The Internet of Things has ushered in an era of Smart Schools, Smart Homes, Smart Hospitals, and perhaps most importantly, Smart Cities. Low cost Internet-connected devices have made it possible, even easy, to monitor and control municipal functions like parking, traffic, lighting, safety, and environmental control. Video can be readily captured across the city. Insightful and actionable data on the workings of government are available in real time, delivered via smart phone.

Smart cities are able to reduce their expenses by optimizing energy consumption. Responsiveness, safety, and overall satisfaction of all residents and employees rise dramatically in smart cities. Infrastructure, including buildings, roads, and public transportation, can be kept in optimal condition, adapting to usage and the environment

Elements Of The Smart City

The Internet of Things and the smart phone as a citizen user interface have been two of the driving forces behind the smart city. Industrialized wireless motion and flow sensors, small low-cost durable video cameras, air and water quality monitors, and temperature and noise monitors are all available to provide inputs for the smart city. On the control side, digitally-controlled LED lighting, water flow control, remotely-controlled traffic lights, heating and cooling, pedestrian displays, and power distribution are all important for implementing the smart city. Highly reliable network infrastructure is what enables all of the smart city technologies to work together flawlessly and provides local Wi-Fi hotspots.

The smart city sensors continually generate big data, which can be used to better understand the resource flows for optimizing efficiency and minimizing costs. Storing and analyzing the data requires local or cloud-based database systems and computer analysis engines. The results are typically shared with residents via smart phone apps, displayed to pedestrians via outdoor digital displays, and viewed by city analysts on their computer displays.

The big data aspect of the smart city dates back to the late 1960s when the Community Analysis Bureau of Los Angeles started using computer data bases to shape urban planning. The notion of real time data collection and control has expanded rapidly over the last few years with the introduction and growth of Internet of Things devices that are durable enough for outdoor deployment, but still relatively low in cost.

Gartner on Strategic Technologies For Government

Each year Gartner publishes 10 Strategic Technologies For Government and the Hype Cycle for Smart City Technologies and Solutions. For 2016, the analyst highlights these technologies for smart government: Internet of Things, Smart Machines, Citizen E-ID, Analytics Everywhere, Multichannel Citizen Engagement, Open Data, Digital Government Platforms, Risk-Based Security, Digital Workplace, and Software-Defined Architecture.

They point out that smart city technology makes it possible to manage city environments by floor and crop level, utilizing IoT sensors, together with analytics and data from weather databases, so that lighting, humidity levels, irrigation and nutritional facts can be controlled through a building management cockpit. Interestingly, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 5% of a major metropolis's budget will be generated by smart city joint ventures and, “As smart cities emerge, the streetlamp will be the second most valuable piece of real estate in the city.”

One estimate puts the smart-city market at $12.1 billion this year, rising to $27.5 billion annually by 2023. Frost and Sullivan predicts the aggregate number will be $1.5 trillion globally. What it will ultimately be worth in terms of social, environmental, and economic value to the inhabitants of the smart city will be enormous.

Acknowledged pioneers in the smart city movement include: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Singapore, and Chicago. Last September, to encourage adoption within the US, President Barack Obama's administration committed $160 million for smart city programs to reduce traffic congestion, fight crime, foster economic growth, manage the effects of climate change, and improve city services across the country.

This blog was originally authored by Robert Nilsson, Director of Vertical Solutions Marketing.

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