The world is rapidly urbanizing, and cities are becoming more crowded than ever before. By 2050, it is estimated that 68% of the world's population will live in cities, up from 55% in 2018.
The challenge for cities is to provide the infrastructure and services necessary to accommodate this exponential growth while maintaining a high quality of life for their citizens. This is where IoT-enabled smart city technologies have gained a lot of momentum.
How Does IoT Play a Role in Enabling Smart Cities?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the way we interact with the world around us. From our homes to our workplaces, IoT-enabled devices have become an integral part of our daily lives.
However, the impact of IoT is not limited to just our personal lives. In fact, these smart city technologies are transforming the way we live in cities, making them safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.
Smart city technologies are all about using data to make better decisions. By connecting devices and infrastructure to the internet, smart cities can leverage the power of IoT to collect and analyze vast amounts of data in real time, allowing them to adapt and respond to evolving conditions quickly and efficiently.
This data can be used to optimize everything from traffic flow to energy consumption, making cities more efficient, livable, and sustainable.
Let’s explore some of the areas where IoT-enabled smart city technologies will impact how we live.
Traffic congestion is undeniably a major problem in many cities, especially in underdeveloped regions, leading to delays, increased pollution, rising fuel costs, and daily frustration for commuters.
By using IoT sensors and devices to monitor traffic flow and automate traffic signals in real-time, cities can simultaneously reduce congestion and improve safety on the roads. This approach, known as Adaptive Traffic Control, has been shown to reduce travel times by up to 25% and cut emissions by up to 20% according to research from Carnegie Mellon University.
Featured Startup: HAUP
HAUP is an innovative shared mobility startup that offers an alternative to car ownership, which is one of the primary culprits behind congestion and air pollution problems in Thailand's urban cities.
Smart city technologies can help cities become more energy-efficient, both in consumption and cost, and reduce their carbon footprint.
Smart meters, for instance, can collect real-time data on energy usage to help consumers better manage their energy consumption, while IoT-enabled sensors can be used to monitor energy consumption in buildings and adjust heating, cooling, and lighting systems to optimize energy usage.
In addition, smart grids can help to optimize energy distribution, reducing waste and improving efficiency. These grids use IoT-enabled sensors to monitor energy usage and adjust supply accordingly, ensuring that energy is distributed where and when it is needed most.
Featured Startup: ENRES
ENRES is an AIoT platform that enables the digitalization and analysis of building and factory management processes, thereby helping to reduce tedious operations, excessive energy consumption, and unanticipated business interruptions.
Population growth and increased waste come hand in hand, making waste management another serious hurdle for cities around the world.
Currently, waste is diverted to landfills and oceans. Neither option is sustainable long-term; toxic substances and emissions get released into the soil and air while the oceans suffer with the already depleting marine life population.
IoT-enabled smart city technologies can help to address this challenge by optimizing waste collection and reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
For example, IoT-enabled sensors can be used to monitor trash cans and alert waste management teams when they need to be emptied. This approach, known as Smart Waste Management, can reduce the frequency of waste collection and improve the efficiency of waste collection routes.
In addition, IoT-enabled technologies can be used to recycle waste more efficiently. For example, smart recycling bins can sort recyclable materials automatically, making recycling more accessible and convenient for residents.
Featured Startup: Waste Labs
Waste Labs uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data to digitize waste flows and design, monitor, and optimize waste collection and recycling processes. Their approach enables the creation of circular products that support sustainable supply chains.
An example of an IoT-enabled smart city technology that can help monitor and improve air quality is a network of air quality sensors that can be installed and measure various pollutants that are detrimental to our health such as PM 2.5 and nitrogen dioxide.
The data collected by these sensors can be analyzed in real-time and made available to the public through mobile apps or websites, allowing citizens to stay informed about the air quality in their area.
For instance, in London, the Breathe London project is an example of how IoT-enabled smart city technology is being used to monitor air quality.
The project involves deploying a network of over 100 air quality sensors throughout the city. With the available data, city officials can also identify areas with particularly high levels of pollution and take steps to address the issue.
Featured Startup: BreezoMeter
BreezoMeter, recently acquired by Google, delivers reliable insights on air quality, pollen, wildfire tracking, and weather. Using AI and machine learning, their tool can predict environmental hazards, allowing people to make informed decisions and take cautionary measures towards their health.
In a Smart City, IoT health tech devices can be used to monitor and track the health of individuals in real-time, allowing for early detection and treatment of health issues.
Smart wearable or medical devices can help track a person's heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs, and alert healthcare professionals if any abnormalities are detected. These devices can offer real-time data to healthcare professionals, allowing for early detection of potential diseases and better management of chronic conditions.
Smart City technology can also improve access to healthcare for those who live in underserved areas where access to healthcare facilities may be limited. Telemedicine services can be provided through IoT devices, allowing patients to connect with healthcare professionals remotely.
Featured Startup: Doctor Anywhere
Doctor Anywhere bridges the gap in the healthcare ecosystem by providing an on-demand video consultation service via a virtual clinic and integrating both digital and offline platforms to empower users to take charge of their health.
The Current and Future State of IoT-enabled Smart City Technologies
As with any new technology, there are also potential areas of concern with IoT-enabled Smart City technologies. Privacy is one key concern that both the private and public sectors are working to address.
With cameras and other sensors throughout the city, there is the potential for the government to collect vast amounts of data on citizens. This data could be used for legitimate purposes, such as identifying security threats, but it could also be misused.
In a world where news of data breaches involves large corporations, there is also the risk of hacking and cyberattacks, which has a high potential to compromise the security of the city's infrastructure and put citizens at risk.
To address these concerns, it is important for cities to develop strong privacy policies and cyber security measures. This includes being transparent about what data is being collected and how it is being used, as well as implementing strong encryption and other security measures to protect against cyberattacks.
Despite these potential risks, the benefits of IoT-enabled Smart City technologies are clear: by using data to make better decisions, cities can improve the quality of life for residents while also reducing their environmental impact. As these technologies continue to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative solutions that will transform the way we live in cities.
Plug and Play Tech Center is a global innovation platform that brings together startups, corporations, and investors to accelerate the development of innovative technologies and digital transformation around the world.
With Smart Cities being one of our key verticals globally, we have been supporting startups working on smart city solutions, and bringing key players together to tackle critical smart city challenges and accelerate innovation, thereby creating more efficient and sustainable cities. Learn more about our Smart Cities program.