Populations around the world keep growing in urban areas as a United Nations report projects that 68% of the population will reside in cities by 2050. To prepare for this growth, smart cities are emerging to make life more sustainable.
At the core of this digital transformation are IoT sensors placed in devices, vehicles, and buildings to monitor processes. Here’s a look at the role IoT sensors is playing in this revolution.
The Essence of Smart Cities
One of the main objectives of a smart city is to optimize resources to achieve cost efficiency with minimal impact on the environment. Technology that comprises IoT sensors and other modern advancements, such as AI and automation, carries the “smart” label. A smart city is one that has embedded wireless interactive sensors throughout its infrastructure to improve the quality of life for its residents. It includes smart meters that deliver real-time data to customer apps.
Smart cities are steadily evolving around the world, usually involving the deployment of tens of thousands of sensors just within a Downtown area. In fact, in some metropolitan areas, smart parking and smart streetlights have already been in use for years.
Aside from local government and large manufacturing plants, power and water utility companies are among the earliest pioneers to use smart technology. The proliferation of smart meters has helped utilities cut production costs and avoid waste, turning them into more sustainable firms. Sensors can detect real-time deficiencies in a power distribution system, which trigger automation software to draw electricity instantly from alternative backup sources, such as solar energy.
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Smart meters also help consumers track their energy and water consumption in real time through mobile apps. This capability eliminates the chances of surprise energy bills. Many homeowners have weatherized their homes to include smart thermostats that can be controlled remotely through the cloud. IoT technology has also helped big cities cut water waste in half now that they can quickly locate pipe leaks detected by wireless sensors throughout the water distribution system.
Toward a New Digital Infrastructure
Local officials around the world need to rethink their infrastructure and move toward smart technology. Not only can smart cities be based on interconnected services within an ecosystem, but they also offer motorists current data on road conditions at their fingertips to make decisions on commute routing, detours, and parking. Instead of driving around in circles and wasting gas looking for a parking slot in a crowded part of town, drivers can now make parking plans and payments through their smartphones.
Another dimension to smart cities is public transportation. Smart technology allows traffic officials to study driving patterns on city streets from a central location. They can monitor speed levels and other driving behavior to ensure public safety. Each bus from an entire fleet can communicate its exact geolocation through GPS to headquarters, along with fuel levels and a wide range of other data to ensure the vehicle is safe to drive.
One of the most important challenges of this digital transformation will be to reduce various forms of pollution in the environment. Agricultural businesses particularly need to invest in smart technology for the sake of monitoring water consumption and soil condition. Officials can monitor Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) and send alerts to citizens in high-risk areas. Sensors will further detect dangerous chemicals and toxic substances in indoor workplaces, contributing to a healthier workforce. City planners are forced to face the challenge of a growing population that will put more strain on the environment and resources. The inevitable solution for cities is to adopt smart technology and maximize it to lower costs and boost productivity as much as possible.