Smart city is a term that has become popular in recent years, although ancient Roman cities could already be considered as such, with their use of technology (such as aqueducts and water drainage systems) to make life easier for their citizens.
Below, we explain different aspects of smart cities: what they are, what their goals are, how they work, what their benefits are and also their drawbacks.
The term "smart city" is used in many different ways and although there is no conclusive definition, it can be described as: A city that, thanks to the use of new technologies (information and communication), manages to be sustainable and efficient. In other words, it is a city that uses technology to provide services and solve problems.
Within any smart city project, we can find areas as diverse as energy, mobility, urban planning, administration and communication, as well as the connections between them.
As mentioned earlier in the definition, the most important objective is to create sustainable and efficient cities (not only environmentally but also politically, economically and socially) while addressing the problems arising from factors such as demographic change, population growth, pollution, climate change and resource scarcity.
And the answer may surprise more than one... It is not (only) engineers and specialists but mainly citizens. People (ourselves, our objects and our daily activities) constantly interact with the technologies around us and thus provide much of the relevant data for designing smart cities.
Smart cities are primarily based on the internet of things (IoT).
In many cities, a network of different types of connected sensors and devices transmit data (such as parking occupancy, transport use, etc.) via wireless technology and the cloud.
As mentioned above, citizens also interact with smart cities in a variety of ways, mainly through the use of mobile phones, connected cars and homes.
Among the types of sensors scattered around the city we can find those that:
Thanks to software and applications, all the data generated can be received, analysed and managed in real time to help municipalities, businesses and citizens make the right decisions to improve the quality of life.
As mentioned, energy efficiency is one of the main objectives of smart cities. We have already described, for example, the use of smart sensors to dim street lighting when there are no cars or pedestrians in the vicinity. In addition, smart grid technology can be used to improve operations, maintenance and planning, as well as to deliver power on demand and control power outages.
Another important aspect of smart cities in terms of sustainability is the use of renewable energy. For example, the installation of photovoltaic panels for street lighting.
Smart buildings are also often part of a smart city project. Old buildings can be refurbished and new infrastructures already built with energy efficiency concepts in mind and the use of sensors not only for energy efficiency but also for other aspects such as: monitoring the structural health of buildings, detecting leaks in the water network and other piping systems...
The main factors that determine and will determine how well smart cities work are:
While there is no single solution, the low power wide area network (LPWAN) technologies being developed are well suited to most smart city applications because of their cost-effectiveness and ubiquity. These include LTE Cat M, NB-IoT, LoRa, Bluetooth.... In addition, the advent of 5G technology is expected to boost smart cities.
Luxsystems is a company based in Mallorca (Spain) and Mexico with experience in the smart cities sector and we have participated in the development of installations under the "smart" concept in cities in Chile and Mexico, as well as in the Mexico City metro, highways and ports.