What role does the IoT play in city management and the everyday life of city residents? How can the smart city meet the needs of a French population that is 90% urban? We have put together five potential uses of IoT in smart cities.
Firstly, let’s look at the context. France is highly urbanised (90% of the population) and the rest of the world is no different: forecasts estimate that 70% of the world’s population will be urban in the near future.
This population concentration in the city leads to new uses and growing complications in the management of:
To address these concerns and improve living standards, the concept of the smart city has emerged, following on from the idea of a sustainable city. Smart means connected. Different objects (traffic lights, public transport, alert sensors, etc.) are increasingly networked to make them more efficient. This is the Internet of Things (IoT), a collection of technologies known in everyday life through connected objects. This engineering offers new services, using numerous IoT networks. Plus there are information and communication technologies (ICT). This might still seem unclear. To help you understand the role that the Internet of Things might play in an urban area, you can take inspiration from the following example uses of IoT in smart cities.
Road traffic in cities is a universal problem. Some roads are jam-packed, whilst others are empty. Smart traffic lights can lessen the effects of rush hour by keeping traffic moving. This uses data analysis and automatic traffic light adjustment. Systems that could be an advantage both for car drivers and public transport. Free flowing traffic means less pollution.
Maintaining air quality is often on the political agenda in cities. Air pollution is a major problem in metropolitan cities. IoT sensors can collect real-time data linked to pollution (particles, pollen). They can also predict the pollution rate based on wind, weather and traffic levels. This type of measurement provides a foundation to offer solutions.
Waste management is another key area where the IoT can help. Modern communication systems between machines optimise collection and make it more efficient. Containers fitted with a sensor indicate the filling level. They will only be emptied when they reach a certain predefined threshold. This smart system could tailor the waste collection cycle to genuine needs. Used in this way, IoT technology could reduce operating costs and offer a better response to environmental problems linked to inefficient collection.
City parking is certainly one of the trickiest problems to solve. It gets worse as the city grows, as more residents generally means more cars, whilst the number of parking spaces often stays the same. The IoT is an ideal solution to improve parking management. Like underground car parks and some supermarkets, the city can use floor sensors indicating free spaces to drivers through an app. This ensures a more convenient experience for residents, who also save time.
A city encompasses a huge variety of infrastructure: roads, bridges, buildings, streetlights, and so on. This infrastructure can also benefit from the Internet of Things thanks to smart devices. This makes the infrastructure smart. A typical example: smart streetlights only switch on when they detect the movement of a passing vehicle or pedestrian. The main benefit of this system is reducing electricity consumption and the resulting energy cost.
When it comes to the Internet of Things, the only real barrier is our imagination. There are plenty of other potential uses of the IoT in smart cities: building functionalities (air conditioning, lighting, security, etc.), water management, public transport and other areas can benefit. As citizens and consumers, city resident wellbeing will improve as they are the primary beneficiaries of the IoT and smart cities. The same applies to regional institutions and businesses.
Learn more about using the IoT in: