Generally speaking, a smart city makes use of sensors, connected devices and data analysis to effect various systems, from transportation to law enforcement.
Despite the privacy concerns associated with them, sensors are crucial to a smart city. Combining insights from sensor data with technology already associated with urban life can make for a higher quality of living. However, leaders in smart cities, taking cues from their constituents, would have to increasingly address the significant privacy and security issues associated with such systems.
In a smart city model, data is acquired from intentionally deployed sensor devices, or indirectly from sensors deployed for a different purpose. Both types of sensors can help manage a smart city in real-time.
Consider the following innovations that are being incorporated into smart city plans.
Technology for a smart power grid will play a key role in the smart cities of the future. From algorithm-based usage to sophisticated metering systems, there are a number of methods used to improve energy services. Smart grid technologies allow for superior outage diagnosis, usage data capture, disaster recovery assistance, service operations and all-round grid modernization methods.
With the growth of home solar systems and electric vehicles, technology will permit on-demand power storage and discharge, as well as distributed energy production, all of which improves grid management.
Moreover, buildings that can actively track energy usage and transmit this information to utilities can lower their power costs. This will ultimately result in reduced pollution and greater efficiency, even as urbanization intensifies as expected.
Better Transportation Tracking
A smart city is able to significantly reduce vehicle traffic, enabling people and items to be moved more efficiently through various means. For instance, data-based traffic systems and autonomous vehicles would be capable of working together to create highly-efficient traffic flows. This and other approaches to greater traffic efficiency can lower pollution and time wasted in traffic.
Cities that have already invested in these types of transportation technologies have seen a rapid return on investment. City buses and trains are becoming connected in cities around the world, so passengers can access real-time information on delays and changes in schedule. In Australia, smart traffic lights are informed by bus schedules so that traffic can flow better during high-congestion times.
Smart systems can also improve parking. For instance, a system could track parking demand and adjust parking rates on smart meters accordingly or manage parking systems to reduce the amount of time spent circling city blocks in the hunt for a parking spot.
Analytics and AI
Officials and city planners are beginning to move away from analyzing information housed at city hall to producing new insights based on information gathered from a system of deployed sensors. IoT devices, such as connected lighting fixtures and parking meters, are currently producing massive volumes of data on how people interact with the cities around them. For example, traffic information captured by streetlights can indicate an ideal location for a new commercial development in a transitioning neighborhood.
Data analytics are essential to processing and analyzing all of this information into relevant and actionable insights to makes city life easier, more prosperous and more effective. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also projected to handle much of the processing for smart cities. AI can process and analyze information produced by Machine-to-Machine (M2M) city infrastructure systems.
It may sound like science fiction, but many cities are moving ahead with plans to deploy robotics for civic purposes.
The smart city project in Dubai involves the use of social robots for public services, security and transport systems. Dubai is also considering humanoid police officers. The city's stated goal is a 25% automation of these services by 2030.