Approximately 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050 according to Gartner. This rapid urban growth is already placing a considerable strain on the existing infrastructure, and with more people making the move to urban living, it’s only going to get worse in the coming years.
To accommodate this new demand on cities, municipalities around the globe are turning to the Internet of Things innovation to enhance their services, reduce costs, and improve communication and interaction. Though the potential is there for IoT to improve nearly every aspect of urban living, there are three IoT applications for smart cities.
A more efficient water supply
The Internet of Things has the potential to transform the way cities consume water. Smart meters can improve leak detection and data integrity; prevent lost revenue due to inefficiency, and boost productivity by reducing the amount of time spent entering and analyzing data. Also, these meters can be designed to feature customer-facing portals, providing residents with real-time access to information about their consumption and water supply.
An innovative solution to traffic congestion
As more and more people move to cities, traffic congestion – which is already a massive problem – is only going to get worse. Fortunately, the Internet of Things is well positioned to make improvements in this area that can benefit residents immediately. For example, smart traffic signals can adjust their timing to accommodate commutes and holiday traffic and keep cars moving. City officials can collect and aggregate data from traffic cameras, mobile phones, vehicles, and road sensors to monitor traffic incidents in real-time. Drivers can be alerted of accidents and directed to routes that are less congested. The possibilities are endless and the impact will be substantial.
More reliable public transportation
Public transportation is disrupted whenever there are road closures, bad weather, or equipment breakdowns. IoT can give transit authorities the real-time insights they need to implement contingency plans, ensuring that residents always have access to safe, reliable, and efficient public transportation. This might be done using insights from cameras or connected devices at bus shelters or other public areas.
IoT technology is making it easier for buildings with legacy infrastructure to save energy and improve their sustainability. Smart building energy management systems, for instance, use IoT devices to connect disparate, nonstandard heating, cooling, lighting, and fire-safety systems to a central management application. The energy management application then highlights areas of high use and energy drifts so staff can correct them.
Research shows that commercial buildings waste up to 30 percent of the energy they use,¹ so savings with a smart building energy management system can be significant. As more smart city buildings use energy management systems, the city will become more sustainable as a whole.
Improved public safety
Smart cities and their CSP partners often implement video monitoring systems to tackle the safety concerns that come up in every growing city. Some cities now have hundreds of cameras monitoring traffic for accidents and public streets for safety concerns. Video analytics software helps process the thousands of hours of video footage each camera produces, whittling it down to only important events. Systems using IoT technology turn every camera attached to the system into a sensor, with edge computing and analytics starting right from the source. Artificial intelligence technology like machine learning will then complete the analysis and send video footage to humans who can react quickly to solve problems and keep residents safe.
Cities are also improving public safety with smart lighting initiatives that replace traditional streelights with connected LED infrastructure. Not only do the LED lights last longer and conserve energy, they also provide information on outages in real time. City workers can use that information to ensure important areas are well lit to deter crimes and make the public feel safer.
How Can Your City Use IoT Technology?
For governments to successfully increase efficiency, enhance their services, and improve the quality of life for their residents, they need a platform that can power IoT applications for smart cities. The right one will aggregate, process, and interpret the data that smart devices generate, ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to take these cities into the new era of connectivity.