Smart cities is a buzz word becoming more and more popular these last months, however it is rather difficult to find a clear definition of what makes a city smart.

After a lot of reading and research, I have come to conclude that the meaning of smart cities varies a lot depending on point of views or even cultures.

In the past years, I had the chance to discuss very closely with smart cities players and carefully build my own definition of what is a smart city, and more importantly, what are the steps of successfully implementation.

Smarter cities

First, it is important to highlight that a city is usually qualified as “smart” according to the amount of technology used to address problems and provide services. Thus including a degree of maturity of its current transformation status.

Some organizations like European Smart Cities are even designing a set of indicators in order to “calculate” the smart-ness of a city.

In reality it is quite hard to estimate the level of smartness of a city, since many factors can bias the estimation. There is also a big difference between providing connected services and having them accepted and heavily used by their targeted users.

From all around the world, the process of smart-ification looks quite similar and follow an iterative process based on pilot projects:

  1. Planning
  2. Choice of standards
  3. Community leveraging
  4. Realization
  5. Requesting feedback and monitoring usage

Iteration usually starting with data management and publication, then deeper analysis, then creation of services.

IoT at the city level

Smart cities are fully relying on IoT and communication technologies to operate; Data is gathered from connected devices, then aggregated, sanitized, processed, analyzed and stored. This data is then used to provide services to the residents, companies, organizations and administration.

Data sources are a mix of devices installed by the city, output from services companies and also our personal devices.

Expected benefits of smart cities

Energy

Consumption and production can be recorded and be analyzed to anticipate needs and production capability. Anticipation is the key in modern energy grids that need to route energy as fast as possible while minimizing the loss.

Public services

Transportation, deliveries and other public services are the most visible to residents and

Criminality

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Development

City planning can also greatly benefit from insights about resident habits, lack of residential areas, traffic issues…

Tourism

Not only residents can benefit from a connected city, tourists can also use connected services to help for trip planning, assistance, service access, security and feedback.

Risks

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Examples of implementations

US

India

France

China

Germany

Netherlands

 

automation

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