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Smart Cities: A Decade of Progress

Geometric shapes superimposed on the city
Illustration: © IoT For All

In just over a decade, smartphones have profoundly transformed our lives. They have given people around the world new ways to communicate, connect and consume, which has been widely considered indispensable.

But they did not just change the landscape of our personal and professional life. . They also helped the general public to become familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT), which uses machines equipped with digital sensors to collect data and an Internet connection to share and analyze them. identify models and improve the performance of larger systems. As a result, they paved the way for the adoption of smart devices and analytics programs in other areas, including industrial facilities and utility networks.

The public square should also benefit from this trend, as evidenced by the growing popularity. the smart city concept, which advocates the use of IoT systems and analytics to collect and harness information relevant to the experience of urban life. This essay will examine many of the ways that municipal authorities have tried to use such technologies to improve the functioning of cities over the last decade.

Safety and Security

The concept of a smart city came into existence at a time when the memories of September 11, the largest terrorist attack ever committed in the United States, were still relatively new. As a result, he inevitably brought government agencies at all levels – federal, state, county and municipal – to to think about how technology could help protect the public .

Discussions on the subject were not confined to terrorism, which (fortunately) remained a relatively rare phenomenon in the United States. They have spread to the field of crime, which represents a much more common threat to law and order. As a result, municipal governments began to think about how IoT and analytics technologies could help them improve their performance on this front.

One of the first cities to take action was Santa Cruz, California, which launched a pilot program of preventive control. in 2011. As part of this program, the city's police department began using a computer algorithm to analyze crime data. This helped the ministry to identify and map "hotspots" that could benefit from more frequent patrols. Since it updated patrol cards on a daily basis, it also allowed police officers to react more quickly to new developments and trends.

Since the conclusion of the pilot program, Santa Cruz has adopted PredPol . predictive font software based on the same researcher as the one who designed the original algorithm. His success prompted other cities in California to be interested in PredPol and other similar type of solutions .

Public services and quality of life

Meanwhile, the police is not the only public service will be affected by the concept of smart city.

Municipalities have also turned to technology to manage parking services. For example, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, uses the Mobypark mobile phone application to help users find parking spaces and pay for access to demand . The application helped reduce traffic and congestion, according to city officials . Laguna Beach, Calif., Uses Frogparking, a similar application designed by a New Zealand-based company, to manage the city's parking spaces. This system also allows the municipality to use smart meter data for motorists who do not pay for parking .

Similarly, public transportation is ready to be included in Smart City planning. In Spain, the CityOS program in Barcelona allows commuters to spend less time waiting using the information provided by IoT sensors to optimize bus routes. These sensors assess traffic trends and count the number of people waiting at bus stops, providing data to a central system that can redirect buses as needed. For its part, the city of Columbus, Ohio, has partnered with a local utility in 2017 to promote the use of electric vehicles. American Electric Power Ohio, a utility company, helped city authorities build new charging stations and put in place systems to help drivers keep their vehicles running.

Similarly, the concept of smart city can help municipal authorities to manage energy consumption and environmental impact. . Stockholm used a public fiber optic network to implement the Green IT program which aims to reduce heating costs and emissions by increasing energy efficiency. San Leandro, CA, launched the ZipPower project late 2016 to optimize local energy resources . As part of ZipPower, it has taken steps to promote the use of small scale renewable energy systems and has created a software platform helping consumers reduce their electricity costs.

Some of these Smart City environmental monitoring programs even have a public health dimension. For example, Copenhagen has partnered with Google to collect information on pollution levels that can be used to generate map-type graphics. These maps, based on data collected by screens installed on Google's StreetView cars, display air quality indices for each neighborhood in the city. The locals can then use them to find the best routes for walking, jogging, cycling and other outdoor activities enhancing the quality of life.

Towards a More Comprehensive Approach

All the programs described above represent an improvement over the old systems. But in most cases, they affect only one or two specific aspects of urban life (parking, traffic, crime, public transit, etc.) at a time. In other words, their ability to help their users is limited.

In time, this will probably change. As The Economist pointed out earlier this year in its World Special Issue 2019 cities that adhere to the Smart City concept are likely to look for more comprehensive solutions integrating multiple datasets in ways that make the urban experience more enjoyable. flawless.

Indeed, some are already moving in this direction. In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has developed mobile phone applications and rechargeable smart cards allowing residents to pay for a wide range of public and private services (including, but not limited to). restrict traffic fines, business transactions) and access to transit systems. At the same time, Singapore uses its Smart Nation sensor platform to collect data on infrastructure, housing and community amenities. It then integrates the information into an analysis system designed to facilitate access to services, improve productivity, and ensure public safety.

Because of these programs, Singapore and Dubai are both on the road to realizing the potential of Smart. City concept . Eventually, city governments should be able to go further by integrating the functionalities of Dubai's payment and access solutions into the analytics capabilities of the Singapore platform. If and when they do, they will change the lives of city dwellers.

Written by Gregory Miller, writer of DO Supply covering robotics, AI and automation.

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