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Smart Cities - Coming to a City Near You (5 Minute Read)

Posted by Fran Geddes on 12-Oct-2017 09:27:51
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Living in a city has its downfalls. The air pollution, the condensed populations and, of course, the traffic. Many cities are struggling to offer its residents a healthy quality of life, but more crucially, keep up with pace of its increasing population.

It is estimated by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Therefore, it is crucial governments and councils begin to consider how emerging technologies can be leveraged to improve efficiency, sustainability and quality of life for its residents, keep up with the rapid growth in population and create smart cities.


What makes a city smart?

IoT in smart cities


Cisco defines smart cities as those who adopt ‘scalable solutions that take advantage of information and communications technology to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and enhance quality of life.

Smart cities will offer residents a healthier, safer and more enjoyable quality of life. Using an Internet of Things network, cities can gather and analyse data across its infrastructure. This will allow cities to intelligently manage its assets. An IoT network will not only drive efficiency within metropolises, but reduce carbon emissions by offering sustainable improvements to infrastructure.  

London is the largest technology hub in Europe. Already describing itself as a smart city, London is home to over 40,000 digital businesses. Therefore, it is important London is a key driver of smart city solutions, leading the way in innovation.


What will Smart Cities look like?

A smart cities consumer research study found 75% of respondents believe smart cities would have a positive impact on their lives. But, not many people are aware of what a smart city would actually look like.

Whilst New York, Dubai and Tokyo are at the forefront of the smart city revolution, they only offer a glimpse into what our future cities will look like.


Data is key.

IoT technology is pivotal in a smart city initiative. The data it collects is the driving force behind the innovation. Cities will have access to real-time, accurate statistics they can utilise to measure the city’s success.

Vision for Connected Street Lights

Philips Vision for Connected Street Lights

Connected street lights will stream data between devices and collect crucial data to improve air and light pollution, city services and parking. A great example of connected data currently being used is through Google Maps. Google maps currently utilises data collected from location services on your device. All devices that have location services switched on will anonymously send data to Google, allowing them to analyse how many cars are on the road, how fast they are going and identify any congestion.

Whilst connected streetlights could provide this data, it could also provide information about parking, city services and they could be automated to only be in use when an individual needs them, i.e. walking in the area. This will drastically reduce the amount of energy wasted on powering lights no one is using.



A change to the traffic in cities is one of the first changes we will experience. Companies are moving towards automation and sustainable energy, with electric cars and Uber’s ambitious plan for flying on demand taxis.

In 2020, Uber plans to showcase it’s flying vehicles in Dallas and Dubai, with ambitions to service paying customers in 2023. Unlike the self-driving initiative, Uber is working closely with partners, like aerospace company Embraer, to ensure the projects success. 

Uber flying taxi

The flying taxis, known as vertical take-off and landing vehicles, will be more efficient and less expensive than helicopter taxi services currently available. They will run using electricity, and whilst initially humans will fly the taxis, they will eventually operate autonomously to help save on cost.

With taxi’s taking to the skies, traffic within cities would drastically decrease. But, this isn’t the only plan to get more vehicles of the road.

By 2050, drones will deliver takeaways and by 2060, cargo will travel through hyperloop ports in smart containers that know their contents and destination. Whilst this is decades into the future, this is a giant leap towards more sustainable cities. The average lorry can produce up to 150g of CO2 per kilometre, which, with less lorries on the road, would cause a drastic decrease in emissions.



How Smart Buildings will use IoT

Smarter buildings are another important element of smart cities. It is important for cities to seek innovative solutions using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. AI would not only collect and utilise important data about the building and its inhabitants, but residents would be able to ask the building for things like temperature changes or act as a receptionist/concierge.

In the US, buildings account for 39% of CO2 emissions. A move towards smarter ‘living’ buildings would mean buildings would actually sustain themselves. They would adapt to the needs of their inhabitants and respond to changes in the weather to ensure it is using the most efficient practises.


Want to find out more? Wiser have created an interactive graphic to illustrate the timeline for the innovative developments.


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