Technology has a habit of creeping up on us. Many of the things we saw as science fiction in our childhood are now commonplace. Everything from smart phones to flat screen TVs seemed to just appear. Well, the same is happening in the cities where we live. Smart cities are no longer in the realms of science fiction – they are fast becoming a reality. In this post, Smart City Technologies: Part One, we will introduce some of the smart city technologies which will play a pivotal role in how we live our lives in the years to come. Part Two will follow next week.
What is a smart city?
A smart city is a connected city which integrates information and communication technology (ICT) and physical devices connected to the network (also known as the Internet of Things [IoT] devices). This powerful combination is being used to enhance a number of aspects of city life, save costs and improve the environment. Now the benefits are becoming apparent, city planners around the world are spending billions of dollars to make their cities smarter.
Smart city solutions for traffic management
With the number hybrid and fully electric cars on the rise, the air quality in cities may see an improvement, but this does not help with traffic and parking problems. Thankfully, smart city technology can help. Smart traffic lights with integrated cameras can monitor traffic conditions in real time and automatically adapt accordingly.
Surveillance cameras and on-street sensors can keep track of the availability of parking spaces and kerbside loading/unloading bays and display the information on roadside panels or through an online app. This results in the use of these facilities being optimised and also reduces vehicles circling to find suitable parking or loading/unloading spots, thereby improving congestion and air quality.
Smart city solutions for energy management
As people begin to embrace smart technology in their own homes to reduce energy costs, such as smart A/C devices, smart city technology allows cities to follow suit. Excessive lighting in cities has been a cause for concern for many years now and smart street lights with LED bulbs are a good step forward to reducing this problem. These intelligent lights use integrated cameras or sensors to detect movement and dim or brighten accordingly – they can even communicate with each other so other lights in the area can dim or brighten depending on the situation.
This type of smart energy management is slowly finding its way into the power supply infrastructure too through smart grids which use real-time data to optimise the way power is produced and distributed and how outages are managed.
Smart city solutions for waste management
When we imagine a city of the future, we certainly don’t think of overflowing trash cans on street corners. Smart bins have a sensor installed to detect the fill level. They will then alert the service centre so they can plan their collection route or handle the problem immediately. This not only keeps city streets clean but also improves efficiency and lowers costs for service providers. Some of these bins are also being trialed as Wi-Fi hotspots!
So, those are just some of the many smart city technologies which we will begin to notice around us. Check back next week for Part Two and, in the meantime, to learn more about the major role CCTV plays in smart cities, see our post on The Innovative Ways You Will See CCTV Used in Hong Kong’s Smart City.