Street Smarts: How IoT is Making Cities Increasingly Intelligent

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been exploding for quite some time, and not just in the tech industry. From smart homes to smart cities, machines are becoming smarter every day. Indeed, cities across the globe are using IoT to improve public services and create smart infrastructure. 

Read on for five examples of IoT integrations in smart cities:

  • Smart Lighting

Smart lighting remains one of the most popular ways for cities to begin their journey into smart city technology. For example, in New York City, linked-up street lamps have helped to reduce public lighting costs by up to $6 million per year.

Smart lighting is not only relatively low risk and low cost compared with other smart city projects, but also helps improve a city’s environmental performance while reducing its carbon footprint.

Smart lighting products are also increasingly being used to enhance safety and security. For example, lighting can be used to help prevent crime by deterring criminals through surveillance and detection. As a result, this can help city residents feel safer.

  • Smart Parking

Finding somewhere to park your car can be a pain if you live in a city where there are not enough available parking spaces. Seattle, Washington is one of many U.S. cities helping to ease the pain by installing sensors in city parking lots, which detect how many vehicles are parked there. 

IoT sensors are installed within parking spaces to track vehicles as they enter and leave them. Drivers can then use this information via their smartphones or smart cars to help them decide where to park. Additionally, smart payment systems allow users to pay for parking from their phones.

In addition to smart parking, IoT has also enabled smart traffic management, a smart city concept that helps manage traffic via mobile devices, sensors, and electronic surveillance.

The goal of smart traffic management – which is supported by numerous government, private and vehicle manufacturer initiatives – is to reduce the amount of time drivers, and their vehicles, spend in traffic. IoT technology allows vehicles to communicate not just with each other but also with traffic lights and toll gates.

  • Smart Meters

Smart meters are an essential element of the evolving electricity industry, helping cut down on energy waste by allowing utilities to collect data from consumers and automate billing. These meters also provide real-time information about electricity consumption, allowing customers to make more informed decisions about their usage habits.

Essentially, smart meters enable two-way communication with a central system. This advanced metering infrastructure helps consumers save money by providing them with greater control over their energy usage.

Smart meters also allow energy providers to read meters remotely, eliminate estimated bills and provide customers with near real-time information on their energy consumption through in-home displays or web portals.

When used in conjunction with smart appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners, smart meters can help consumers manage their energy use and effectively reduce their electricity costs.

  • Smart Waste Management

Smart waste management is an end-to-end process of collecting, transporting and efficiently disposing of garbage or waste with the help of advanced technologies and sensors connected to the Internet.

For example, one municipality used Bigbelly smart waste and recycling stations in its downtown area, collecting trash on demand while freeing up time for other city services. The city was able to collect more than 44 tons of recyclables from its downtown area.

The smart waste management concept involves using ultrasonic sensors to monitor the level of waste in a bin and an IoT-enabled communication device to alert authorities about the status of the bin. An IoT device then uses this data to communicate with a remote monitoring system. Once the trash reaches a certain level, this information is sent to a monitoring center so they can arrange for collection.

A solution to help manage the growing population problem and increased waste is needed to keep cities clean, prevent pollution and reduce public health risks. IoT technology is one ideal solution that can be used to manage trash levels, analyze data and automate waste collection tasks. The system may also include cameras or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags so city workers can track key assets such as dustbins.

  • Smart Air Quality Management

The main focus of the smart air quality management project is to monitor the levels of these gasses in the atmosphere. The proposed system uses sensors such as an MQ-135 gas sensor for measuring CO2 level and an MQ9 gas sensor for measuring CO2 level in the industrial areas.

These gas sensors are connected to the Arduino Uno open-source microcontroller board that acts as the brain of this project. The values picked up by the sensors are displayed on an LCD display and also transmitted wirelessly using a Zigbee module.

This data can be monitored remotely using IoT technology where it is uploaded to reliably control and cost-effectively minimize usage of resources..

Parting Shot

Needless to say, the future of smart cities looks bright. IoT integration has gone far beyond consumer technology and has extended its reach into our neighborhoods, improving quality of life one sensor at a time.


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