The migration of population from the countryside to the cities has increased in recent decades, resulting in larger cities with higher population densities than ever before. In areas of quality of life, public administration, economics, urban planning, safety, communications, resources, environment, social cohesion, human capital, transportation, the demands and pressures on local governments are increasing. Adequate water supply, sanitation (including waste disposal), efficient transportation, affordable housing, effective communication network, stable governance (including citizen participation), green and healthy environment, citizen safety, and health care are the challenges they face.

Governments, communities, and local governments are looking for tools to assist them in monitoring, assessing, identifying, and responding to these issues.

Tools

IoT networks and IoT devices that enable apps to collect asset data in real time are critical components of the digital transformation to a smart city. These components provide accurate, up-to-date data for real-time monitoring, analysis, and decision-making, thereby improving the quality of life, increasing profitability, and promoting sustainable development.

Transportation

In any city, mobility is a significant issue. Citizens rely on public transportation to get to school, college, or the office. The Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling the development of a new race of intelligent road, air, rail, and maritime transport systems (ITS). These solutions connect cars, public transportation, traffic signals, customer service booths, and other transportation infrastructure to reduce congestion, avoid accidents, reduce emissions, and increase transportation efficiency. They also provide the ability to combine information from sources such as ticket sales and traffic data from IoT sensors to understand how citizens use public transportation, improve the travel experience, and maintain high standards for safety and punctuality.

For example, some train operators forecast the occupancy of arriving and departing carriages by collecting and analyzing data from ticket sales, motion sensors, and cameras installed near the platform. Using this information, train operators can predict how many passengers will be in each carriage. When the train arrives at the station, the train operator instructs passengers to spread out along the length of the train to maximize passenger capacity and avoid train delays.

Smart-parking

Smart-parking solutions detect parking availability in real-time and aid in the optimization of on-street parking in cities, as well as parking garages or surface parking lots found in shopping malls, train stations, corporate campuses, and other locations. The system detects parking space occupancy using GPS data from the driver’s smartphone, an IoT sensor, or a camera. When a parking space becomes available, the driver is notified and can locate it quickly using the map on his smartphone or in the car. It also provides turn-by-turn navigation to the most convenient parking space instead of relying on pure luck to find parking spaces.

Smart meter

By deploying smart meter networks, municipalities can connect their citizens to utility systems more cost-effectively. The meters can send data directly to utilities via the telecommunications network to get accurate meter readings. Utilities can use smart meters to track each household’s water, energy, and natural gas consumption to understand their customers’ energy, gas, and water consumption. They can also monitor demand in real-time, reallocate resources as needed, and encourage customers to reduce their energy or water consumption when resources are scarce.

Citizens can also use data from the smart meters to track and monitor their consumption via their smartphones. The head of the household, for example, can use their mobile phone to turn off the home’s central heating. If a problem arises (such as a water leak), the utility company can notify the homeowner and dispatch a specialist to resolve the issue.

Streetlights

Adding IoT sensors to streetlights and connecting them to a cloud-based management solution improves maintenance and control. By collecting data about lighting, people, and vehicle movements and combine it with historical and background data (e.g., onetime events, public traffic times, time of day, season, etc.), the solution instructs the streetlights to dim, brighten, turn on, or turn off based on their surroundings. When pedestrians cross the street, the lighting near the intersection may brighten; when a bus is expected at a bus stop, the lighting in that area may brighten more than the lights further away.

Garbage Disposal

Most garbage collection services empty garbage cans regularly. This method is inefficient because it results in inefficient bin utilization and unnecessary fuel consumption by garbage trucks. IoT smart city solutions help optimize waste collection schedules by tracking waste volume and providing route optimization and operational analytics.

Each garbage can contains a sensor that collects data on the bin’s fill level. When a specific threshold in the sensor log has been reached, the waste management solution receives the data, processes it, and sends a notification to the truck driver’s mobile app. As a result, the truck driver empties a full bin rather than a half-empty one.

Environment

Smart city solutions enable the monitoring of parameters to maintain an optimally healthy environment. A cloud management platform analyses sensor readings and activates a custom output when something is out of the “normal” when sensor networks are installed in water supply networks to monitor water quality or around busy streets and factories to monitor air quality.

If the nitrate (NO3) level, for example, exceeds 1 mg/L, the platform can notify the maintenance team and create a case for on-site personnel to begin troubleshooting. Another example is that when the levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur oxide in the air become excessively high, the platform can identify and visualize areas of severe air pollution and make recommendations to citizens.

Public safety

Smart city technology based on the IoT improves public safety by providing real-time monitoring, analytics, and decision support. By combining and analyzing data from acoustic sensors and CCTV cameras installed throughout the city with data from social media, public safety solutions can predict potential crime scenes. This enables police to apprehend or track down potential criminals.

A lens detection solution, for example, detects gunshots by using network microphones strategically placed throughout the city. The solution finds the gun based on the time it takes for the sound to reach the microphone and notifies the police via a mobile app once gunshots are detected and their location is determined.

As a result, this is only a partial list of scenarios in which IoT is being used as a tool to assist governments, communities, and local governments in monitoring, assessing, identifying, and responding to the city’s scaling problem today. The future of IoT is even more exciting than this, with billions of things communicating with each other and human intervention becoming obsolete. The Internet of Things will cause a significant shift in the way cities are designed, affecting how we live and work.

The future is exiting

.NET Developer. Passionate about Software Architecture, LoraWan and IoT.