29 September 2016

Behind the “Smart Cities” concept

Cities, as we know them, may look very differently in just a few years as the concept of Smart City gathers increasing momentum. But apart from the already popular term, what does a Smart City actually mean for citizens, businesses or institutions?

To begin with, the overall purpose of a smart city is using technology, improving the quality of life of citizens by optimising resources (human, financial, etc.) and, at the same time, preserving the environment.

A smart city could:

  • find you a parking spot in real-time;
  • tell officials of leaks in pipelines with precise location and in real time reducing waste, noise and costs;
  • update driver’s GPSs’ with instant traffic;
  • use street lights that could instantly alert authorities in case of accidents, serious threats, reducing crime rates. The possibilities are really limitless.

Water & gas pipes, lamp-posts, traffic lights, can be integrated with sensors that can produce data which would be used to monitor real-time updates and inform decision-makers.

For example, PlanIT Valley, a smart city in northern Portugal, will maximize the efficiency of everything from emergency services, energy storage and consumption to traffic flows, by embedding hundreds of thousands of sensors into the city’s infrastructure.

Similar implementations exist in numerous other cities such as Istanbul, Boston, San Francisco, Barcelona, Amsterdam and many others. All of them already share a major concrete benefit, being able to dramatically reduce the city’s energy bills.

Market projections say that introducing smart meters alone would bring more than 62 billion Euros per year globally. These smart meters are essential for water management and energy savings.

Applications for mobile devices are also a key component of smart city projects and some are very impressive; for instance, TZOA app which uses internal sensors to measure air quality, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient light and ultraviolet exposure. Or EverImpact an app that tracks greenhouse gas emissions in real-time and monetizes their reduction with Carbon Pricing Instruments.

EYIF, together with Huawei, developed the InnoApps Challenge, the only pan-European competition to develop innovative Apps for SmartCities. The InnoApps pan-European Challenge encourages young people to build ground-breaking solutions to improve social inclusion and foster the development of decentralised innovation ecosystems in Europe. This third edition will focus on the Internet of Things, as a cross-cutting technology domain and Smart Cities as a vertical application area, to address specifically challenges regarding safe cities. Learn more about the mentors and the prizes and submit your application by 25th October!

Sources: Postcapes, VINCI, Smart City: Barcelona, Financial Times

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