Over the past several weeks, we’ve been talking about how cities are starting to become more connected, using all types of sensors to get better at managing everything from transit to sustainability. The IoT solutions deployed by these “smart cities” will provide some incredible opportunities for you as developers.
This IoT innovation isn’t taking place in some distant future – it’s already happening in smart cities in every corner of the world. A recent report from the International Energy Agency, for example, reveals that smart meter deployment grew by 500 percent between 2008 and 2012, from 46 million to 285 million meters now installed. And 1 billion more installations are projected before the end of 2018.
Here’s a look at four global cities that are already on the cutting edge of IoT, using sensors and data-driven technologies for smart transport, energy efficiency, and public safety.
Los Angeles, California
It makes sense that the city known for its epic traffic jams would want to reduce congestion and create more parking spaces. To do that, the city is using LA Express Park, a smart parking program that utilizes vehicle sensors in parking spaces to discover which parking spaces are most in demand. In the downtown area, demand for more than 6,000 metered parking spaces changes by the day or week, but the city is using its IoT parking solution to keep up to 30 percent of spaces available at any given time. The city is also exploring the idea of using the same technology for a full parking management system that could ultimately help reduce traffic congestion.
Perhaps no city is doing more to save energy through technology than Barcelona. A city-wide network of energy-efficient street-lights connects to an underground fiber network. The lights are outfitted with closed-circuit television (CCTV); sensors that monitor air quality, noise, and humidity; and WiFi. Lighting levels can be dynamically managed depending on surrounding conditions to save energy. With the data gathered from the lights, city officials are able to provide better environmental management and hope to improve the city’s overall sustainability. Barcelona isn’t stopping with lights, though. The city’s smart water management system relies on sensors placed on water valves, optimizing irrigation throughout the city and helping it save more than half a million dollars annually.
Scotland’s largest city is taking advantage of the IoT to improve safety for its citizens. Intelligent LED lights located above busy city streets detect approaching pedestrians and bicyclists in the evening and automatically brighten. The city is also using a surveillance network based on 400 wireless high-definition CCTV cameras installed on streets and traffic lights. When the cameras detect rallies or other unusual activity, an alarm is triggered in a central command center so authorities can investigate. In addition to making the city safer, Glasgow’s growing IoT infrastructure also incorporates sensors under the surface of local roads, and the resulting data is used to adjust traffic lights in order to cut down on bottlenecks.
Songdo, South Korea
While connected cities like Los Angeles focus their IoT efforts on specific use cases like parking, Songdo, a built-from-scratch smart city, is using the IoT for everything. Built on 1,500 acres of reclaimed land in South Korea, the city of the future uses a video conferencing system called “telepresence” to connect homes, offices, and industrial buildings. Sensors, of course, play a central role in the city: all vehicle traffic is monitored through RFID tags on cars, with geo-location data sent to a central monitoring unit that alerts authorities to highly congested areas. And sensors also help traffic lights automatically adjust to the number of citizens on the streets. In addition, Songdo has implemented a smart energy grid, with sensors in homes and buildings monitoring energy usage so utility managers can control supply and demand. And in true sci-fi fashion, Songdo transports all residential and commercial refuse in the city through underground pneumatic tubes.
As Songdo grows, technology companies will look to the city as ground zero for IoT development. One company is already doing just that, setting up a space in the city where it will design and build enterprise and consumer connected devices, sensors, and data analytics solutions.
Embracing the opportunity
As we’ve shown in this blog series, the rapid growth of IoT solutions in connected cities across the globe is going to lead to more work for you. As more and more cities become connected, you will play a central part in building their IoT solutions. Embrace the opportunity! You have many reasons to be excited about what the future will bring.
But, as we’ve talked about before, you should also proceed carefully. Creating the technology that will power tomorrow’s smart cities is no easy task. Cities will depend on your IoT technologies every day to be safer and more efficient. You can use a solution like Golgi to build flawless connectivity, security, and data transport into your products from day one. By making sure your products get it right the first time, you can be confident that you’ll help those smart cities to become safer and more efficient.