Smart cities gained prominence in the 1990s when urbanization drew people from rural to urban areas. This increased the pressure on cities to improve the status quo, encouraging them to look at technology for increasing efficiency and promoting economic growth.

A ‘smart city’ is one that aims at improving the quality and living standards of its residents by incorporating information and communication technologies (ICT). At the heart of a smart city lies technology, employed to reduce costs and make it more livable. Today, cities are striving to connect each aspect with technology using the Internet of Things (IoT) and provide intelligent solutions to citizens, ultimately improving living conditions while promoting sustainability and resilience.

Using IoT and sensors to build smart cities

Smart solutions based on IoT, ICT, sensors and location are employed to build smart cities, channelizing data from different pillars of the city – utilities, traffic, waste management – to deliver improved services and governance on the back of advanced analytics and intelligent solutions. For instance, a smart waste management solution can deploy IoT sensors to monitor garbage level in bins. When about to be filled to the brim, an alert may be sent to a pickup vehicle to empty it. Clearly, this would help cities maintain cleanliness with minimal human intervention and maximum efficiency.

Smart solutions for smart citizens

According to an Intel-backed study, every urban resident would save up to 125 hours each year if smart solutions such as smart parking, traffic management, smart health management, smart waste management and smart mobility become a reality.

Let’s look at how smart cities will transform mobility. Smart traffic solutions would help commuters save time by providing real-time traffic information. Smart parking technology would help them identify available parking spaces, facilitating a smooth parking experience. Glasgow has already implemented smart mobility by giving regular information to commuters about public buses, timings, seat availability, time taken to reach a particular destination, next stop etc. Bus operators have fitted sensors in their vehicles which relay this information to commuters.

Smart parking in smart cities

A key pillar of a smart city is smart parking management. It leverages IoT, sensors, and software to track availability of parking spaces, the number of vehicles parked in parking lots, the duration for which these vehicles have been parked etc. This information is then transmitted to parking assistants and commuters. Sensors are also used for surveillance of parking lots to ensure that only authorized individuals are allowed entry into parking spaces.

A single platform for all data

Providing smart services to citizens rests on proper collection and correlation of data. This requires an integrated platform that serves as one-stop shop for all information. The Singapore One platform is a GIS-based platform that hosts city-wide information and offers information on land availability, parking availability, local transport system etc. It also serves the government of a city, aiding them in building smarter cities.

Bhubaneswar, which recently ranked among the top 20 smart cities in the world, recently designed a similar platform. The BhubaneswarOne portal hosts citywide geo-referenced data serves citizens who can download information like land use, public agencies and the Bhubaneswar Development Authority.  For instance, if construction work is happening in an area, the information is made available to the citizens so they can plan for the disruption in transport services, possible road blocks etc.

Get My Parking’s integrated parking platform works on the same principle, collecting and communicating parking data to lot owners and city governments for efficient management and enhanced decision making.

Smart cities need technology to flourish

Over the years, the concept of smart cities has gained popularity across the globe. With its emphasis on technological solutions, smart cities are likely to revolutionize the way in which people live. The fact that key aspects of mobility (such as unorganized parking) will transform under the smart cities project is likely to lead to smarter governance and management, ultimately resulting in happier citizens.