Generally, when people think of a smart city the only technology that comes to their mind is the Internet of Things or IoT. Well, this is not unreasonable as IoT plays a major role in building a smart city. However, it takes a lot more than just IoT to turn a city into a well-connected, resilient and sustainable smart city.
Smart cities are not just about providing services to their citizens that ease their lives but also connecting them to the government for providing valuable feedback about what they want their city to be like. Using various technologies, authorities are able to collect information from and about the whole city when then can be used for better operations and make the city smarter and safer.
This requires not just one but various technologies seamlessly synchronized with each other to make a city smart. Which ultimately helps in greater visibility and control to governments, convenience to citizens, and optimum resource allocation and utilization.
Let’s have a look at 5 technologies essential for building a smart city:
Information and Communication Technology
For a city to be smart a two-way communication channel is crucial. This is where information and communication technology or ICT comes into play. ICT plays a significant role in bridging the communication gap between the citizens and the government. Such that citizens can interact and convey their requirements in return. The government can build a city according to those requirements.
Government can also leverage ICT to collect data about the demand and supply patterns of services. And, resources of a city and efficiently manage them. The electronic medium of communication helps in building a collective voice and intelligence. That can be utilized for the optimization of resources with the help of data analytics and deep learning.
The Internet of Things
All the other technologies used in smart cities are limited to certain operations and applications. However, IoT on the other hand is deeply engraved with smart cities and it basically is part of almost all of the city’s operations. This is due to the fact that smart cities at their core rely on the collection, processing, and analysis of large amounts of real-time data. Whose only possible source are IoT devices.
IoT sensors and devices can continuously collect comprehensive information in real-time of varied nature and in various forms. Data like a footfall in a bus or railway station, pedestrians on certain streets, areas of traffic congestion, contamination of air and water, energy consumption stats of an area, etc. They can be collected through various IoT devices.
By leveraging this data government departments can take prompt and educated decisions regarding the allocation of resources. According to the requirements. For example, based on data about the footfall at a particular bus station transport agencies can reroute and reschedule their buses according to the varying demand. For instance, if on Sunday afternoons many people take the bus for a certain area more than regular days. Then the transport agency can ensure the availability of buses for the passengers that require it. Similarly, health departments can monitor air and water contamination levels and may stop the supply of water to domestic households. If it is contaminated at a harmful level, while on the other hand working on improving the quality of water.
Therefore, IoT and sensor networks act as a nervous system of a smart city providing critical information to the concerned authorities and also allowing people to take responsive actions.
Big Data Analytics
All aspects of smart cities are essentially driven by data. All decisions are from strategic long-term decisions like public policies and regulations. Short-term decisions like welfare programs for citizens are taken on the basis of analysis of continuously collected data. With the constant advancement in IoT sensors and their ability to collect higher volume, velocity, and variety of data, the requirement for high-capacity analytical tools also arises.
Big data analytics is already in use by governments for a wide array of functions, for example, monitoring, tracking, and preventing crime in certain areas. And, resource allocation, etc. As IoT enables data collection from numerous devices, big data analytics can be used in all areas including the critical parts of a smart city. Like education, healthcare, environment, and transportation. As a matter of fact, big data is already being used with all IoT applications as its inseparable part. Big data analytics helps governments to make sense of the huge amount of data collected by finding patterns that can depict trends within the city.
As we have explained above, the foundation of smart cities is information and communication. And, synchronization in various devices, processes, operations, and infrastructures. With the help of this synchronicity, governments can make sure that their citizens obtain significant services like emergency services and healthcare timely. As a combined result, citizens will have an improved city life experience and their convenience and well-being will be ensured.
For example, in case of an emergency like a fire, real-time communication between the emergency services such as the fire department, ambulance service. And traffic control, will ensure better coordination among them and minimize the damages and casualties. To allow this smooth communication between departments. It is required to have a communications network capable enough to handle huge volumes of communication simultaneously. And with high reliability and low latency. Therefore, the use of powerful networks like 5G is crucial for any smart city.
Smart cities as we know are a factory of huge amounts of data and information. And all of this data is useless until and unless they are processed. Structured, and analyzed which in turn generates useful information. Artificial intelligence or AI is the technology widely used to make sense out of such data. AI enables inter-device communication and interaction and processes data to make sense out of it. AI can detect and learn patterns and learn. when and where they occur in a situation as a trend. This can be leveraged by smart city solutions providers in the management of on-road traffic, waste, electricity and water supply, and healthcare facilities.
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