Smart Cities Will Make Our Lives Better

Next Generation Communications Blog

Smart Cities Will Make Our Lives Better

By: Anthony Trinh, Integrated Marketing Assistant, Alcatel-Lucent

The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling the world around us to exchange data via a common network. This data will actually help us to understand the ‘things’ (objects and devices) in our lives and make sense of it. But how does the IoT improve our lives?

By 2020, the IoT will connect more than 26 billion devices and almost anything – your connected car, your dog’s collar, and even your entire city – will be able to communicate with each another. Cities are getting bigger and there are a lot of opportunities to streamline operations and manage scarce resources with IoT technology. Innovations in IoT technology are helping public and private organizations gain in-depth insight into the needs of their communities. Cities will become smart – developing strategies to improve their infrastructure, plan for long-term growth, create more energy-efficient environments, and keep people safe.

Communication Service Providers are leveraging Smart City technology as a means of attracting new consumers in sectors of critical infrastructure such as energy, utility, transportation, and all areas of government, by virtue of delivering them a value that has previously not been attainable. This value is derived through gains in efficiency that are achieved as a result of the interoperability and interconnectedness of all devices and objects that operate on the city’s platform. City services and operations will no longer operate as individual silos, but rather as a single cohesive program. Smart City technologies offer its consumers new ways to develop and act upon intelligence about their communities. Additionally, these technologies provide adaptable interfaces to best serve the needs of individual and unique cities as well as tools to manage city operations in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.


Source: Verizon. Smart Cities Solutions, 2014.

But IoT isn’t just about technology. It’s about improving the everyday lifestyle of community members and considering the human factor in every organization or community.

Cities are growing at a faster rate than the world population. This will make for greater challenges in managing the operations of these continually expanding cities.  IoT technology can help cities streamline their operations, reduce resource consumption, and enable better services to citizens. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how Smart City can help organizations:

Asset tracking will streamline operations and achieve operational efficiency like never before. Cities will be able to track the location of city assets such as utility vehicles, containers or busses and raise alerts when unexpected events occur. Let’s say a driver comes to a stop that is longer than expected – an alert will be immediately raised and and the city can find the closest suited vehicle to take its place.

From an environmental perspective, Smart City technology can reduce consumption and wastage of resources such as energy, water, and greenhouse gases by a significant amount. Boston University used Big Belly to install self-powered trash receptacles which wirelessly alerted collection vehicles when the receptacles were full. The result? On-campus trash collection was reduced from 14 times per week to an average of 1.6 times per week.

Smart City machines will enable better services to citizens by managing operations automatically, without human intervention. Intelligent lighting can automatically manage an organization’s electricity with technology such as activity sensors which turn off all the lights when no one is physically nearby and humidity sensors which adjust to find the perfect temperature.

The IoT and Smart Cities presents an enormous opportunity for achieving social, economic and environmental benefits. With many data sources, many applications and many stakeholders, a horizontal platform approach that spans across verticals and across use cases is critical to ensure success. The platform must be highly scalable, capable of interacting with many different systems and securely broker sensitive information to relevant stakeholders while protecting sensitive data and privacy of citizens.

What are your thoughts? What are the key applications and challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to know what you think!

 When he’s not blogging or on social media, Anthony Trinh (@Trinh_Anthony) is a fourth-year marketing and information systems student from Carleton University in Ottawa. He is currently completing a co-op term as the Integrated Marketing Assistant for the Motive Solutions Marketing group at Alcatel-Lucent.


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