Where does the “Smart City” concept come from?
Today 50% of the population in the world are concentrated in the 2% of the earth surface occupied by our cities. In 2050, this percentage will certainly reach 70%. Those cities already produce around 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions entail climate change which upset global moving.
In that respect, urban areas have no other choice to solve social, political and environmental challenges which impose themselves. They have to reconsider their model to take up the challenge of resources safeguarding and answer efficiently to the citizen’s needs.
But preservation rhymes with optimization of resources consumption. Cities have to be more informed to better understand their systemic organization.
It is at this point that the “Smart City” concept does appear, a modern city that serves the cause of its citizen’s well-being, an inclusive city that gives their stakeholder role back to citizens and an environment-friendly city. The Smart City is a moving and self-improving organization that optimizes the consumption of its resources, the use of its infrastructures and offers suitable services for its population expectations.
The Smart City goes further, it reinvents itself, innovates to create solutions which answer as fully as possible to the above-mentioned challenges. Today almost 70 cities around the world have adopted this concept and the key for this revolution is data! What is better than a collected information source to understand the operation of a city, its needs and being able to achieving them by proposing the most appropriate services.
How does a city become smarter?
For a city seen as a global entity (legal, administrative, economic, social, etc.) progress levers necessarily rely on its constitutive pillars which constitute this city: its inhabitants, its transport system, its economic attractiveness and its businesses, its public services, its environment.
The Smart City arises from the convergence of two paradigms: technology powering the city efficiency and the city powering citizens-key-stakeholders.
Technologies refer to a change operating at several levels:
The digital transformation of our society, which since the advent of the Internet makes the information easily available and paves the way for more interactions, modified our behaviours and our organizations. Our behaviours are more mobile and our decisions more aware. Our way of thinking is modified and today we enter in a digital culture where the citizen has indirect impact on the city transformation.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The artificial Intelligence refers to every algorithm that allow to create automatic systems able to process and analyse information.
Fed by accurate data about behaviours, habits and citizens’ preferences, AI allows to deliver innovative services and appropriate at the same time.
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
It is combination of the power of wireless technologies, Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and Internet that create the possibility for the objects/things to communicate together. The Internet of Things is made by these wireless networks of communicating objects/things. These networks with various communication protocols create new means to capture previously unreleased data. Together with AI they pave the way for a world of new perspectives and drive the city in an unequalled intelligence level.
Which perspectives with the urban IoT?
The Smart City and the IoT are two phenomenon which are linked. Indeed, IoT paves the way to achieve the challenges of the transformation in cities:
- Smart Grids
“Smart Grids” is a term devoted to the use of sensors that collect information about the state of electricity, water and gas resources distribution networks. IoT makes them smart networks. “Smart Grid” concept fulfils economic and environmental issues by providing a management close to the balance between production and consumption but also an increased networks efficiency and safety of these networks for real energy savings.
- Smart Building
“Smart Building” is a concept that refers to the use of digital technologies to improve buildings performance. The Smart Building is a connected building that collect data about its state and its energy consumption, allowing an appropriate decision-making. It involves an optimum energy performance, but also includes comfort, services and users safety aspects of this building became smart.
- Smart Mobility
“Smart Mobility is one of the most powerful levers to take up our cities challenges. Connected objects provide a lot of data about traffic flow, vehicles, equipment and infrastructures that open up amazing possibilities: traffic monitoring in real-time, smart parking, public lighting automation, urban winter road maintenance…
Thanks to these data, mobility is a catalyst for new services and for a better usage of existing equipment and infrastructures to sustainably impact the smoothness, the efficiency and the safety of urban traffic.
It provides to car drivers an optimum experience. It promotes transport multimodality for a greater consistency of urban traffic and travel.
To collect information about mobility in the city allows an appropriate decision-making to preserve resources, to optimize the use of existing equipment, to rationalize the operation of its infrastructures, to reconsider motorized vehicles market share, to reduce consumptions, related costs and others pollutions.
Small or major cities have no other choice than to convert to IoT and to become Smart Cities to deal with today challenges.
First good news in that resilient approach is that intelligence in the decision-making process is above all based on human stakeholders prior to that automatic processes can produce. The issue is to enlighten the decision-making with more accurate information guaranteed by an increase and an improvement of source data but also to encourage collective intelligence mechanisms.
Second good news is that digital, artificial intelligence and IoT are today already available regardless the size of these cities. No need to be a major city to become smart!