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4 Smart City Projects that Leverage Machine Learning and the IoT to Solve Problems

Half the world’s population lives on just one percent of the Earth’s surface, according to data compiled from NASA.¹ That puts extreme pressure on today’s cities – something that will only increase as populations rise and more people move to urban areas.

Cities are now dealing with unprecedented traffic, pollution, energy demands, and public safety concerns. And while no single project can solve every problem, smart cities are using technology to tackle issues one step at a time.

Smart city projects take advantage of the internet of things and advanced AI algorithms like machine learning to relieve pressure on their infrastructure and staff while creating more sustainable environments. Here are four projects that smart cities are taking on to solve major problems.

1. Smart Lighting

Problems: High energy use, utility costs, and maintenance needs.
Solution: Smart lighting that reduces maintenance needs, decreases energy consumption, and lowers utility bills.

Smart lighting projects typically take place on city streets and public land. Old infrastructure and incandescent lighting is replaced with connected infrastructure and energy-efficient LED bulbs. The more efficient bulbs lower carbon emissions to improve sustainability and use less energy, which decreases costs for cities. Connected infrastructure then monitors performance so maintenance is only deployed when there’s a problem so they can quickly resolve it.

Added benefits of smart lighting include longer lifespans for streetlights and improvements in public safety that come from having more spaces adequately lit.

2. Smart Parking

Problems: Traffic congestion and legacy city road and parking infrastructure.
Solution: IoT monitoring that locates empty parking spaces and quickly directs drivers to open spots.

Up to 30 percent of traffic congestion is caused by drivers looking for places to park.² Not only does the extra traffic clog roadways, it also strains infrastructure and raises carbon emissions. Smart parking alleviates all these issues by installing IoT devices that quickly locate empty spaces and direct drivers, making the most of cities’ existing infrastructure and cutting down on congestion and auto emissions.

3. Video Analytics

Problems: Public safety concerns, an overwhelming quantity of data from video monitoring, high costs for data storage
Solution: Video analytics software that automatically flags incidents and removes irrelevant footage.

Video analytics software improves existing video monitoring systems in public areas by turning cameras into IoT sensors. Edge computing begins analyzing video footages at the source – the camera. Analysis happens in real-time, with both statistical and machine learning algorithms analyzing data as it moves from the camera to your central system. The software flags anomalies and incidents cities need to respond to immediately, such as crime and traffic congestion, and reduces storage needs by prioritizing important footage from standard data.

4. Smart Building Energy Management

Problems: High energy use and energy drifts from commercial buildings like retail shops, skyscrapers, and public spaces like auditoriums.
Solution: Smart building energy management systems that tap into legacy infrastructure to improve efficiency and detect energy drifts.

Building energy management systems monitor all energy use within structures, including heating, air conditioning, lighting, elevators, and fire-safety systems. Smart building energy management connects to existing infrastructure and uses IoT sensors to monitor energy use. All data is funneled into a single, modern platform that monitors energy use and efficiency. Machine learning and analytics detect energy drifts so building managers can correct areas of high use to save money on utilities and reduce their carbon footprint.

Prioritize Your City’s Problems and Use Smart City Projects to Solve Them

Each of the projects above tackles just a few problems cities have today. To decide which project is right for your city, prioritize your problems. Which ones are costing you the most money? Putting your citizens at risk? Once you’ve identified critical issues, you can create a plan to tackle them with IoT projects, starting with the most urgent and working your way down the list.

5 Smart City Projects You Can Implement Now

Referenced Sources


Case Study: IoT is redefining the customer experience. Nokia case study.

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