A “Smart City” is an urban area that implements information and communication technology (ICT) in a manner that positively impacts the local community by
- making more efficient use of physical infrastructure,
- improving outcomes across every aspect of city operations,
- enhancing the services offered to residents,
- engaging citizens in local governance and decision-making processes and
- allowing local authorities to learn, adapt, innovate and thereby respond more effectively and promptly to changing circumstances.
The most frequently used type of technology is electronic sensors that collect data from citizens, devices, and assets in order to manage a variety of public resources efficiently (such as traffic and transportation systems, waste management, water supply networks and power plants) monitor the structural health of public buildings or even detect crime, among others.
The vast majority of these data is collected with the support of an “Internet of things (IoT)” framework, i.e. a giant network of connected devices: from cellphones, wearable devices or distributed sensors installed to lamps or to the drill of an oil rig and from biochip transponders implanted on stray animals to buses with built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low.
This type of technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving. Moreover, it’s being used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and government.
Smart cities applications have a positive effect in numerous domains, such us
- the environment, since they permit (for example) monitoring and control of CO, emition from factories and cars, toxic gases generated in farms and even help in forest fire detection.
- the local infrastructure, since they support intelligent and weather adaptive public lighting, the distribution of warning messages and diversion instructions according to climate conditions or sudden events, like traffic jams and car accidents or even monitoring of water quality.
- the waste management, allowing the detection of rubbish levels and the corresponding optimization of trash collection routes
- smart parking, where citizens can have instant access to information regarding available parking spaces,
and many more.
Stay tuned for another blog post where we examine where can these data be found and how cities’ officials and citizens can take advantage of them in the most straight forward manner!