Features of a smart city; smart city technologies
Theoretically, any area of city management can be incorporated into a smart city initiative. A classic example is the smart parking meter that uses an app to help drivers find available parking spaces without prolonged circling of crowded city blocks. The smart meter also enables digital payment, so there’s no risk of coming up short of coins for the meter.
Also in the transportation arena, smart traffic management is used to monitor and analyze traffic flows to optimize streetlights to prevent roadways from becoming too congested based on time of day or rush-hour schedules. Smart public transit is another facet of smart cities, used to ensure public transportation meets user demand. Smart transit companies are able to coordinate services and fulfill riders’ needs in real time, improving efficiency and rider satisfaction. Ride-sharing and bike-sharing are also common services in a smart city.
Energy conservation and efficiency are major focuses of smart cities. Using smart sensors, smart streetlights dim when there aren’t cars or pedestrians on the roadways. Smart grid technology can be used to improve operations, maintenance and planning, and to supply power on demand and monitor energy outages.
Smart city initiatives also aim to monitor and address environmental concerns such as climate change and air pollution. Sanitation can also be improved with smart technology, be it using internet-connected trash cans and IoT-enabled fleet management systems for waste collection and removal, or using sensors to measure water parameters and guarantee the quality of drinking water at the front end of the system, with proper wastewater removal and drainage at the back end.
Smart city technology is increasingly being used to improve public safety, from monitoring areas of high crime to improving emergency preparedness with sensors. For example, smart sensors can be critical components of an early warning system before droughts, floods, landslides or hurricanes.
Smart buildings are also often part of a smart city project. Legacy infrastructure can be retrofitted and new buildings constructed with sensors to not only provide real-time space management and ensure public safety, but also to monitor the structural health of buildings. Attaching sensors to buildings and other structures can detect wear and tear and notify officials when repairs are needed. Citizens can help in this matter, notifying officials through a smart city app when repairs are needed in buildings and public infrastructure, such as potholes. Sensors can also be used to detect leaks in water mains and other pipe systems, helping reduce costs and improve efficiency of public workers.
Smart city technologies also bring efficiencies to urban manufacturing and urban farming, including job creation, energy efficiency, space management and fresher goods for consumers.