Did you know more than approximately 0.5% of the earth is urbanized? And more than 54% of the world population lives in urban areas? Together they account for more than 80% of our global economic output. In the coming years it is expected that more and more people will move to urban areas. It is needless to say that making these cities smart, is of paramount importance.
Putting together a lot of people in one place, will create some challenges.
For example, it will put constraints on spatial planning and making sure that all people effectively can move throughout a city. Another challenge is to keep the cities clean, like the air quality. Moreover, effictively removing waste from a densely populated city is another challenge. Good energy management that minimize the waste of energy is another challenge. Ensuring safety is another challenge.
Fortunately, IoT can help us in many of those areas. In a smart waste collection system, waste bins report automatically their status (e.g. fill level) wirelessly to a central platform that automatically calculates the most efficient waste collection route.
Another example is bike sharing. New advancements in technology make it possible to rent a bike with your smartphone and billing you only on the amount of time you have used the product. The benefits of bike sharing include transport flexibility, reduced congestion, reductions to vehicle emissions and last but not least health benefits.
IoT helps cities to improve the wellbeing of their citizens.
Sensors throughout the city can continuously monitor different environment of the city such as noise, air quality, temperature and humidity. This allows the municipality to easily control the environment of the city and thereby the wellbeing of their citizens.
IoT can also be employed to reduce the energy and thereby the CO2 footprint. For example in smart lighting applications, the light will only turn on when a car, bike or pedestrian is passing by.
Less cost and power.
These products and use cases are possible because of various technology advancements:
- The major contributor is cost. Nowadays it is possible to produce intelligent sensors very cost efficiently driven by continuous miniaturisation. This generates new business cases that were previously not possible.
- Power consumption reduction. Nowadays it is possible to operate a tiny sensor with little energy like a small battery of even using energy harvesting techniques like solar power.
- New wireless technologies specifically designed for IoT applications allow sensors to transmit their data efficiently. This in turn decreases the installation costs of sensors thereby reducing the overall cost of the applications. Examples of these technologies are NB-IoT, LoRa and in the near future 5G.
Overall, this means there are exciting times ahead in which we move to smart sustainable cities. IoT will play a major role in realising this goal. We are just scratching the surface, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to profit from this trend.