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MDSi Updates, Blogs, News, and Events

The Impact of Smart Cities on your Everyday Life

Posted by Melissa Huntley on Feb 9, 2017 9:04:22 AM
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It's a Thursday morning, 7:30 AM. The sun is trying to peak through the clouds to give you a beautiful sunrise to gaze at on your way into work. Before you even back out of your driveway, you grab your phone and turn on your GPS app to let you know the fastest route to work. A 4-car traffic jam just occurred 6 miles ahead of you on the freeway you were just about to merge onto. You hear sirens and wonder where they are coming from, but, will never see the accident. Thankfully for you, your GPS app picks up the traffic pattern, detected the accident, and re-routes you a faster way to your office. Police cars and fire trucks have video sensors and cameras on street lights to get to the accident as quickly as possible from the fastest route. Once you get to your job, you search for a place to park. Driving around trying to find a parking spot has left you late for important meetings in the past. With the new App on your phone, you command it to help you find an empty meter, and it detects an open spot. No need to carry around loose change anymore, because the app on your phone has your credit card stored on file, so it bills you directly once the meter has detected your GPS location at that parking spot.

You may not realize it, but, the internet of things, networks, and devices have helped you commute to work faster, avoid traffic jams, and even get you a closer parking spot to the office front doors. With the integration of IoT devices, networks, and mobile computing, the world is "smarter" so why shouldn't a city become a Smart City?

What is a Smart City Exactly?

There is not a true definition to what a smart city is because every city categorizes what being "smart" means and what is most important features to upgrade and enhance. Whether it be environmental issues, speediness of public transportation, or faster internet, these components could all make up for a "smarter" city. Every city can agree that the true reason for a smart city is to make our connectivity and living prosperity easier.

Watch Qualcomm Smart Cities Video  

What Cities Are Leading the Way?

Santander, Spain is on the list of leading the new initiative. They started the process just 7 years ago, and now have become "smarter" in many ways; starting with deploying over 20,000 devices. "This includes static devices located at fixed points in the city utilizing different urban furniture. Collected data is processed in a management server for analysis by applications and tools to generate predictive models", according to Enterprise IoT. Their citizens also have access to bus stop wait times, open parking lot spaces, and clear routes for flowing traffic quicker.

The importance of environmental sustainability are also a large drive to build these smart cities. In Santander, they installed over 1,000 meter-reading sensors which detect water pressure and enable users to "access real-time information about their consumption, water quality and water pressure." Citizens also know where they can dispose of their trash using location sensors connected to apps, and recycling containers have also been installed.

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Barriers to Entry for Smart Cities

The initial cost to install and deploy devices is extremely high and therefore cost is the number one barrier for smart cities to become established. A city should be prepared to cough up millions or even billions of dollars. "Engineers have estimated that we have a $2.2 trillion dollar infrastructure need, of that about a $549 billion transportation structure need in the next 5 years" states Antonio Villraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles. Cities need to determine what is needed to them and what can wait on the sidelines.

The Smart Cities Initiative

In September of 2016, the White House Administration announced an $80 million investment into building new smart cities. These investments would research and develop new initiatives and technologies in the follow areas: climate, transportation, public safety, and transforming city services. They also doubled the number of participating cities, which surpasses 70 in total.  "With nearly two-thirds of Americans living in urban settings, many of our fundamental challenges—from climate change to equitable growth to improved health—will require our cities to be laboratories for innovation"- Office of the Press Secretary. 

"An intelligent city, is a city focused on innovation" says Villraigosa, with our world ever changing and our technology becoming "smarter", why shouldn't our cities accommodate us? The more we connect technology to human lives, the greater impact it will have on all of us.

Topics: Smart City, IoT, Technology