Everything about Smart Cities

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A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect data. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources and services efficiently.

Three layers work together to make a smart city.

  1. First is the technology base, which includes a critical mass of smartphones and sensors connected by high-speed communication networks.
  2. The second layer consists of specific applications. Translating raw data into alerts, insight, and action requires the right tools, and this is where technology providers and app developers come in.
  3. The third layer is usage by cities, companies, and the public.

Benefits of a Smart City

  • Applications can help cities fight crime and improve other aspects of public safety: Deploying a range of applications to their maximum effect could potentially reduce fatalities (from homicide, road traffic, and fires) by 8 to 10 percent. Smart systems can optimize call centers and field operations, while traffic-signal preemption gives emergency vehicles a clear driving path. These types of applications could cut emergency response times by 20 to 35 percent.
  • Smart-city technologies can make daily commutes faster and less frustrating: By 2025, cities that deploy smart-mobility applications have the potential to cut commuting times by 15 to 20 percent on average
  • Cities can be catalysts for better health: Cities can use data and analytics to identify demographic groups with elevated risk profiles and target interventions more precisely. So-called mHealth interventions can send out lifesaving messages about vaccinations, sanitation, safe sex, and adherence to antiretroviral therapy regimens.
  • Smart cities can deliver a cleaner and more sustainable environment: Applications such as building-automation systems, dynamic electricity pricing, and some mobility applications could combine to cut emissions by 10 to 15 percent. Water-consumption tracking, which pairs advanced metering with digital feedback messages, can nudge people toward conservation and reduce consumption by 15 percent in cities where residential water usage is high.
  • Smart cities can create a new type of digital urban commons and enhance social connectedness: Establishing channels for two-way communication between the public and local agencies could make city governments more responsive. Many city agencies maintain an active presence on social networks, and others have developed their own interactive citizen apps. In addition to disseminating information, these channels create vehicles for residents to report concerns, collect data, or weigh in on planning issues.
  • Becoming a smart city is not a strategy for job creation, but smart solutions can make local labor markets more efficient and slightly lower the cost of living: Smart technologies will directly eliminate some jobs (such as administrative and field jobs in city government) while creating others (such as maintenance, driving roles, and temporary installation jobs)

Transformational Changes

Smart Mobility

  • Smart Parking: Each parking space is equipped with a sensor that detects whether a car is parked on it or not. The data is used to provide drivers with real time information on the nearest free parking spaces and their price.
  • Peer to peer ride services: This solution taps into the potential of unused vehicles and uses digital platforms and smart apps to allow individuals to sell rides to people requiring transportation. Typical examples are Uber and Lyft.
  • Smart traffic control: Real time and fine grained data of the traffic flow in the city, created by sensors in infrastructure and vehicles, allow intelligent systems to optimize the traffic flow by adjusting traffic lights and other signals.
  • Adaptive connected cars: In the future, autonomous and connected cars can contribute to a smoother traffic flow by optimizing their behavior. When vehicles become automatic, safety distances between cars can be reduced which will increase the capacity of the road.
  • Shared self driving cars: The use of self driving vehicles can be combined with the principles of the sharing economy to establish a large reduction in the total number of cars and parking spaces in the city. In this scenario, people do not own a car but have a subscription to transportation services.

Smart Safety

  • Smart street lighting: Not only can smart street lighting reduce energy consumption, it can also add to the safety of citizens. Street lights could for example become brighter when movement is detected, so it becomes clear from a distance that traffic is approaching.
  • Drones for risk assessment: By the use of drone technology, it is possible to gather images to assess the danger before sending in human beings.

Smart Energy

  • Distributed generation with renewable sources: Traditionally, electricity is generated by large scale conventional plants based on fossil fuel. A proportion of this will be displaced by distributed generation based on renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind mills
  • Smart grids: Transmission and distribution networks will evolve to what we call smart grids. These next generation electricity grids are designed to be bi-directional; nodes can produce and consume electricity. Furthermore, smart grids do not only transport energy, but also data enabling end -user energy management
  • Microgrids: A microgrid is a local grid, with local sources of energy and local loads, that can operate as part of the nation wide grid but also on a stand alone basis, disconnected from the nation wide grid . Microgrids contribute to resilient smart cities and help reducing energy losses in transmission and distribution, increasing efficiency of the energy delivery
  • Smart metering: A smart meter records consumption of electric energy in intervals of one hour or less and communicates this data to the utility company. This allows utility companies to introduce price differentiation based on the season and the time of day
  • Lower usage through gamification: Data can be used by smart apps that use concepts like gamification to make consumers more aware of their energy usage and influence them to change their behavior to decrease their energy consumption.
  • Electric Vehicle Charging: All these vehicles contain a battery, a high amount of such batteries result in a potentially significant energy storage capacity. This provides an opportunity to store energy during production peaks and to provide additional energy during consumption peaks

Smart Water

  • Leakage detection: Water loss management is becoming increasingly important due to population growth and water scarcity. Experience shows that the amount of non-revenue water can be up to 25%. To minimize this loss, water providers can equip the distribution network with sensors to provide real time insight in pressure, flows and quality.
  • Predictive maintenance planning: Maintenance on water infrastructure is expensive and has to be planned carefully. Data can be used to focus maintenance on the parts of the water distribution system and sewer system that need it most

Smart Buildings

  • Match energy use to occupancy: Smart buildings use large numbers of sensors to create fine grained and real-time data about both the occupancy and the conditions in the building (e.g. temperature, humidity and light). The data is used to optimize building systems like cooling, ventilation and lighting with the objective to operate leaner when less people are using the building
  • Dynamic power consumption: Smart buildings are capable of adjusting their power consumption to the real-time scarcity of electricity. If loads are high, the energy grid can send a request to smart buildings to reduce their energy consumption temporarily in order to lower peak load of the grid as a whole
  • Usage based cleaning: Smart buildings use fine grained sensor networks to detect the activity level during the day. This data can be used to instruct people and robots responsible for cleaning to focus on the areas that have been used most heavily

Smart Homes

  • Homes are operated by electronic devices: Smart homes are connected with electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Lights, heating, the television, the coffee machine and other everyday appliances can be operated with an electronic device.
  • Appliance control: Appliances are equipped with sensors to monitor the state of the appliance. If the appliance needs maintenance, a refill or does not work as it should a notification is send to the smartphone of the home owner to notify him or her about the error
  • Security: Home monitoring and security appliances can be viewed and controlled from anywhere in the world by using the smartphone or tablet.
  • Landscape control: Landscape system measures and take cares of the optimal environment for plants and pets. The system waters the plants and/or gives food to pets at the optimal time and in the correct portions.

Smart Health

  • Healthcare monitoring: Wireless sensing technology embedded in the walls can monitor breathing and heart rate in real time. This could benefit any person living in the house, but the effects for being able to observe elderly people or babies as they are sleeping are particularly persuasive.
  • Quantified self: Innovation in sensor technology embedded in wearables and mobile devices brings self-tracking within reach. People start generating their own data about their physical condition. This enables the trend of the ‘quantified self’, people gathering data about themselves with four objectives: self-discovery, self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-improvement
  • Patient empowerment: Information about diseases and treatments becomes widely available on the Internet, allowing patients to specialize themselves in their own diseases. Patients get online access to their electronic health records maintained by health care providers
  • Digital platforms connect supply and demand: The current health care ecosystem is not very transparent and the various links in the chain do not connect well. Currently, the process is centered around the health care provider. There is a need to become more patient centric to establish a smooth ‘customer journey’ through the health care process. Digital platforms allow bringing together supply and demand in new ways (like Airbnb and Uber did in their markets).
  • Insurance and financing: Traditionally, solidarity between people was based on a lack of information about the risk of becoming ill which lead to an insurance system where risks are spread over the entire population. New technology however make it possible to obtain a much better insight in individual risks, which potentially creates a new paradigm in health care insurance and solidarity.
  • Robotics in ‘cure’ and ‘care’: In the ‘cure’ part of health care, advanced robotics can be used for highly specialized tasks, which robots can do better than humans. A very different type of application of robotics is in the ‘care’ part of health care. In that segment, robots will be used to support people at home, allowing them to stay in their own environment as long as possible.

Smart Education

  • Digitization of education: Digital technology changes the way education is provided to students. At this moment, thousands of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s), provided by world class universities, are available and the number is steadily increasing
  • Personalization of education: The availability of online courses, combined with the augmented supply due to unbundling of education services, allows a further personalization of education. Students combine education services from different education providers to form a learning path tailored to their personal preferences, interests and talents
  • Life long learning: The availability of online education will stimulate the trend towards life long learning. Rapid technological advances cause knowledge to become obsolete and outdated in relatively short time. Smart cities are inhabited by a labor force that keeps their knowledge up to date through ongoing education.

Smart Finance

  • Data based risk analysis: Financial service providers are highly dependent on their ability to estimate risks. The increasing data volume combined with new technologies like data analytics and artificial intelligence creates opportunities for better risk assessment
  • Data-based insurance: The Internet of Things can be used to create valuable data about insured objects. In case of cars for instance, IoT data can give full insight in driving behavior. Insurance companies can use this data to make better risk assessments and to offer client personalized offers for insurance products
  • Elimination of damages by robotics: The ‘Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Verkeersveiligheid’ (SWOV) estimates the annual costs of traffic accidents in The Netherlands at 12.5 billion euro. This is 2,2% of the het Gross National Product. The use of robotics in the form of self driving cars is expected to eliminate most of these costs.
  • Peer-to-peer lending: Digital technology offers new possibilities to match demand and supply. When applied to financing, concepts like ‘peer-to-peer lending’ emerge. Digital platforms are used to match people that are wiling to lend money with people looking for a loan
  • New digital payment systems: New technologies, like mobile payments via smartphones combined with biometric authentication, are expected to result in complete eliminated of cash money in the end. The fast digitization of payments offers opportunities for large technology companies like Google and Apple to disrupt the payments market
  • Blockchain: The blockchain algorithm facilitates registering transactions in an indisputable way without the use of an intermediary with a central administration. Instead, blockchain is a distributed system in which each node has a copy of the file in which transactions are logged (the ‘blockchain’). Cryptography is used to prevent entries in the blockchain from being altered.

Smart Tourism & Leisure

  • Crowd management: Large events in the city can attract up to hundreds of thousands of people in a geographical limited area. Innovative technology can be used to get insight in the behavior of the crowd and provide recommendations for the most effective crowd management measures.
  • Indoor navigation: Many travelers sometimes worry when transferring to a connecting flight. Schiphol airport installed 2,000 iBeacons in the public areas of the airport. One of the services that uses this infrastructure is the ‘gate to gate navigation’ of the KLM app. Upon arrival, the app shows a map of the airport with the route to the destination gate and the time needed to walk to the gate.
  • Smartphone museum guide: Mobile apps combined with iBeacons for accurate location information provide museum visitors additional information about works of art on their own smartphone and in their own language
  • Autonomous robotic guides: Innovations in robotics like machine vision and social capabilities allow autonomous robot tour guides to emerge. These robots approach individuals or groups of people, answer questions and show them around

Smart Retail

  • Proximity marketing: Retailers can link their online channel to the store channel by using the mobile app in combination with Beacons. When customers that downloaded the app walk past the shop, they receive offers through the app related to their online shopping behavior.
  • Personalized products: New technologies like 3D printing can be used to create unique products that are completely tailored to the customer preferences or to a 3D model of the customers body that has been made earlier.
  • Virtual fitting: Smart apps can be used to show customers how they look when they are wearing products that they are not actually wearing
  • Scan and go: Mobile apps can be used to scan items a person wants to buy, after which they are automatically added to the shopping basket

Smart Logistics

  • Personalized delivery: Online retailers implement smart solutions to provide more flexibility in terms of delivery time and place. Customers can choose to pay a premium price to receive a parcel on the exact time of their choice, they can choose to have the parcel delivered to another location like a collection center on the way home or another store where they can pick up the parcel together with their groceries
  • Robotized order picking: The ability for same day delivery is the benchmark for major electronic commerce players. This can only be achieved by radical automation of the fulfilment process in the distribution center. The objective is to have the parcel ready for distribution within 30 minutes after the customer clicked the ‘order’ button on the website

Smart Manufacturing

  • From product to platform: The strive for personalization and customization is pushing manufacturers to think of products as physical platforms. The product in a platform can be the center of an ecosystem in which third-party partners build add-ons
  • Additive Manufacturing is become cheaper – Additive manufacturing (AM) also known as 3D printing comprehends manufacturing technologies that produce objects by addition rather than subtraction, which is used in conventional manufacturing technologies. The price of additive manufacturing is decreasing, which makes AM increasingly competitive compared to conventional techniques. When the production load shifts from the physical world to the digital world, engineers can design complex, previously unthinkable shapes
  • Robotics: Robots in the manufacturing process are automated machinery that can perform routine or dangerous tasks autonomously. Robots will not substitute human labor in the direct future, but they will take on growing part of the manufacturing floor
  • Material Science: ‘Space-age’ is a term used for describing novel materials that allow the creation of a more capable, advanced and intricate generation of objects. Examples of the first generation of ‘Space-Age’ materials include carbon fiber, nanomaterials, memory foam and optical coatings . Over time, these materials will become ubiquitous. As new materials are generated, older ones, once unreachable to all but the most progressive, big, price insensitive manufacturers, have begun to trickle down to the mainstream

Connectivity networks

  • Fixed broadband networks: Fixed broadband networks provide internet access at a bandwidth of 100 Mbs to 1 Gbs and higher.
  • Mobile broadband networks: Mobile networks originated as networks for mobile telephony (voice) but evolved to networks that provide broadband internet data connectivity mainly
  • M2M / IoT networks (LoRa): The key characteristics of these networks are: Long range – Typically several kilometers and providing coverage in locations like basements etc. where 3G and 4G coverage is lost. Low energy – IoT devices are often battery operated and require communication with very low energy use. Low bitrate – IoT devices transmit small amounts of data and do not need broadband networks but only 0.5 kbps to 50 kbps bandwidth
  • iBeacons: iBeacons are small, battery operated, devices that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to transmit a unique identifier that can be picked up by the operating system of mobile devices (e.g. smartphones). Standard beacons have a range of 50-70 meters. The iBeacon signal can be used to determine the mobile device’s accurate physical location and trigger a location based action on the device.



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