Smart Cities: What Makes a “City Smart?”

Smart Cities: What Makes a “City Smart?”

How Smart Cities are Shaping our Future with Data

In 2019, smart cities are more than a dream for the future. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and the extraordinarily innovative Internet of Things (IoT), many are already up and running and expanding rapidly. Municipalities are leveraging cellular and other wireless technologies to connect and improve infrastructure, efficiency, convenience, and overall quality of life.

What Makes a City “Smart”?

Industry experts estimate that by 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban environments. There is a considerable push toward deploying smart city technologies, which can be implemented into public safety, utilities, and transportation sectors.

Smart cities use data to formulate intelligent solutions to optimize infrastructure. A smart city is a framework to develop, deploy, and promote sustainable development practices that address the growing challenges of urbanization.

Cloud-based IoT applications receive, analyze, and manage data in real-time to help municipalities and people make better decisions that improve quality of life for everyone. Specifically, smart cities improve the efficiency of city operations while:

  • Reducing energy and water consumption
  • Decreasing traffic and congestion (and in turn carbon emissions)
  • Improving waste management

Barcelona’s Smart City Solutions

The city of Barcelona is a model city in demonstrating how the IoT can be applied in innovative ways to solve urban problems. Barcelona saved €75 million of city funds and created 47,000 new jobs by implementing a network of fiber optics throughout the city, providing free high-speed Wi-Fi that supports the IoT, and linking to the integration of smart water, lighting, and parking management. Barcelona’s innovative tech solutions include:

  • A LED-based lighting system solution that reduces heat and helps Barcelona be more energy efficient
  • Smart bins that use a vacuum and suck waste into underground storage that help reduce the smell of trash waiting to be picked up
  • A bus transit system recognized for sustainable mobility and decreasing emissions with hybrid buses
  • Sensors embedded underneath the asphalt identify available parking spaces and notify drivers. This initiative is reducing emissions and congestion by directing drivers to vacant parking spaces.

Smart Vehicles—The Future of Transportation

The traffic signal you’re approaching could be talking to your vehicle. Georgia’s Department of Transportation (GDOT) has a treasure trove of data collected from connected vehicles, traffic signals, and various sensors placed on roads across the state. The challenge for the government agency has been what to do with it. Talking Traffic Lights, a smart vehicle technology challenge in collaboration with GDOT, was developed to explore innovations that help ease congestion and increase safety on our roads.  This recap highlights the success of this event.

GDOT, Forsyth County, and Digital Ignition

Congratulates ETALYC, the winner of $75,000 from the first annual Talking Traffic Lights Tech Challenge that took place at Digital Ignition from November 7th – 11th!

Talking Traffic Lights is a safety innovation challenge that brought together robust city data with established IT companies to create connected vehicle safety innovations. The goal was for companies to interpret GDOT traffic light and connected vehicle data to identify opportunities for road safety in smart vehicles. ETALYC presented an innovative approach to leveraging Georgia Department of Transportation data, incorporating other public data sources, and highlighting practical safety ideas for smart cities and connected vehicles.

GDOT has already installed over 300 talking traffic lights—traffic signal technology that can communicate wirelessly with properly equipped cars. Scott Evans, senior project manager-technology with the Forsyth Chamber of Commerce, and Joanne Sanders, our EWISE Communications president, began engaging GDOT last October. Evans socialized the idea of a technology challenge and that Forsyth County was the place to hold the groundbreaking event. North Fulton and Forsyth County have one of the highest concentrations of software developers and programmers in the state. Additionally, Digital Ignition is a hub for companies working in the fields of emerging technology like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the IoT. “Between the caliber of Digital Ignition and the quality that [GDOT is] looking for, that was a great fit,” Joanne Sanders said.

In 2019, smart cities are more than a dream for the future. Cities are leveraging wireless technologies to improve infrastructure and overall quality of life.

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