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IoT for smarter cities: Lessons learned from around the globe

Often referred to as the next Industrial Revolution by industry experts, the internet of things is radically changing business, consumers and governments. According to a recent IDC report, global spending on smart city initiatives is expected to grow to $158 billion by 2022 as cities continue to invest in the hardware, software, services and connectivity that enable IoT capabilities.

Many private sector industries have already implemented and capitalized on the huge potential of IoT technologies, but the public sector has had its share of early adopters. Facing rising citizen expectations and better public engagement, many cities and municipalities have recently introduced disruptive IoT projects to improve their vital services and their citizens’ quality of life.

Not just limited to back-office applications, IoT projects are enabling cities to better adapt and respond to changing conditions — improving critical services like infrastructure and public safety. These cities can now deploy resources more effectively, increase city sustainability and preserve energy. Let’s look around the globe at two successful cities that are using IoT to improve back-office processes and engage people with a citizen-centric application for water and traffic management.

Smarter water management: More accurate tracking

According to a recent study by IoT Analytics, Europe tops the list of IoT smart city projects, capturing nearly 50% of the global project base. For many years, smart city initiatives have been a priority for European policy leaders and companies. In 2011, the European Smart Cities Initiative was created to support smart city projects with a special focus on reducing energy consumption in Europe.

One result of this initiative is found in Castellón, Spain, where IoT technology is being used to accurately track and control water management. From an initial pilot of 600 smart water meters to the current implementation of 30,000, the smart water platform provides the city with real-time data on its water resources.

This innovative system includes long-range and low-power capabilities to collect and communicate household water consumption information, allowing the city to accurately track and control water management. Additionally, this initiative has enabled Castellón to quickly detect leaks, eliminate breakdowns and easily manipulate the water supply network in real time, preventing loss of service and costly repairs.

The results have ensured that the city continues to provide ample water to its citizens while reducing unnecessary waste.

Knowledgeable command centers: Better urban mobility

While Europe accounts for 50% of smart city initiatives, the focus on the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow. Although the region accounts for just 15% of current smart projects, studies suggest this trend will quickly change, with more than 50% of smart cities expected to exist in China by 2025, creating an economic impact of over $300 billion.

In one example, Singapore is working to improve urban mobility by introducing smarter technology to make roads safer and keep traffic flowing smoothly. Because traffic is a growing concern for many metropolitan areas, including Singapore, the city-state plans to feed traffic data into a centralized operations control center, which will aggregate the data and provide real-time traffic information to the public. Equipped with live traffic information on mobile phones, web portals or navigation devices, motorists will have instant insights into traffic incidents and congested routes, allowing them to identify alternative routes.

This initiative is designed to reduce the number of motorists in congested areas to enhance safety on major roads and expressways. Additionally, city officials gain the necessary data required to adjust traffic light systems based on shifting traffic conditions.

The U.S. is poised to learn from global successes

While governments around the globe are focused on increasing productivity, reducing costs and improving their citizens’ quality of life, the U.S. has traditionally been lagging in developing innovative and disruptive smart city technologies. This trend is poised to change, however, as IDC reported that the U.S. is expected to account for one-third of global spending on smart city initiatives in 2019.

By carefully studying the current slate of global smart city projects, governments and municipalities in the U.S. are better prepared to bring these successes to their constituents. This enables us all to look toward a future in which many U.S. cities will be equipped with innovative technologies that alter the way constituents interact with their cities. From pedestrian detection centers at intersections, automated dispatching systems that vastly reduce response times and even integrated asset management tools to drive preventive city maintenance, the city of tomorrow will soon be here today.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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