With thousands of people regularly migrating to urban areas in search of better lifestyle, it is just a matter of time that every city will embrace the powers of big data and IoT (Internet Of Things). Cities will get safer, modernised and highly connected. Research and Advisory firm Gartner estimated over 9.7 billion devices will be connected by 2020.
The whole world is in a transition right now as more and more investment happen everywhere to link everything- from office buildings to homes. By 2020, it is expected to see an investment of as big as $400 billion for smart cities.
Building a smart city using IoT and big data is not a mere prediction. Many cities have already laid down their blueprints. Way back in 2000, CISCO took the biggest plunge in transforming Songdo into a smart city. Today it is at the verge of getting completed. Many other pilot projects have been initiated and handed over to CISCO whose ‘Smart+Connected Communities‘ initiative is fanning the dream to live in a world that is connected and monitored.
Now we know that smart city is an idea that is up for implementation everywhere. But the real value lies in how big data and IoT is driving this idea.
How Big Data and IoT can help
While some cities have already become ‘smart’, many have just started and many are still on the verge of starting.
Here is how data along with Internet devices is catalysing all the initiatives to build a smarter city:
- Monitor the traffic and manage congestions by using cameras, smartphones and magnetic road sensors. In Los Angeles, almost 4,500 traffic signals have been monitored and traffic has been reduced to over 16 percent.
- Identify trash bins that are full and needs to be picked by setting up wi-fi hotspots. In Porto, Portugal wi-fi hotspots have been installed everywhere. By providing free internet to public, it is possible to monitored their daily chores and conduct surveys. With sensors fixed everywhere and highly connected system, it is possible to get notified about a trash bin that needs to be replaced or picked.
- Track water usage using water meters. In California, to manage water crisis, smart water meters were installed to calculate regular water usage.
- Install energy saving lights. In Copenhagen, Denmark almost 20,000 LED lights were replaced with renewable sources of light. All thanks to the power of IoT, these lights will have the auto-switch off feature when nobody’s around.
- Have environmental-friendly power communications. In Bristol, England wi-fi is enabled especially for IoT. It consumes less power making it perfect for devices that need to run 24/7.
Despite the initiatives happening worldwide, ‘Smart city’ is like a buzzword for most people just like big data or Internet of things. There is no doubt that such a city will be expensive. Not all can afford that. Hence, smart cities will turn out to be homes to the elite class only. Apart from that, legislative and financial requirements are huge.
Another point of concern is that technology might be taken for granted. Thus, there won’t be any line of demarcation between a ‘smart city’ and a normal city.
Keeping aside these challenges, the amalgamation of IoT and big data is happening pretty fast everywhere. Utilising the huge potential data provides, it is not an impossible idea to make the world more connected and intelligent.