The use of IoT technology at city-scale is becoming a rising trend, giving birth to what’s now known as “smart cities.” In recent years, more and more countries have begun incorporating this technology into their infrastructures. So far, IoT has been used to elevate crucial systems that affect citizens’ daily lives, such as healthcare, public transportation, workplace, waste management, and energy distribution. Here are a few places around the world that are already leagues ahead.
1. Hong Kong
Just recently, in 2019, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Innovation and Technology Raymond Yang announced plans to push for smart city construction, in line with the Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint that was released in 2017. With over 70 initiatives included in the plan, one feature has become most pervasive in the city: smart lampposts. Fitted with sensors, these multifunctional lampposts serve as bases for measuring traffic conditions, monitoring weather and air quality, and tracking illegal waste dumping, among others. In April 2020, Hong Kong also commercially launched 5G technology that enabled breakneck Internet speeds. And most recently in April 2021, China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) became the first local operator to provide 5G services for the Hong Kong International Airport.
In Europe, the city of London has made an outstanding effort to engage its residents in its data collection efforts. The London Datastore is, according to its website, a “free and open data-sharing portal where anyone can access data relating to [London].” Through this public portal, residents, business owners, and researchers can access collected statistics on things like the rate of recorded crime offenses, amount of customer hours lost due to transport disruptions, and most recently the daily reported number of COVID-19 cases and vaccinations in the city. By keeping residents in the loop, London is creating a more informed public and using technology to improve their city planning.
In the ASEAN region, Singapore leads the way. Their Smart Nation program was launched back in 2014 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Through sensors and cameras deployed all throughout the island, Singapore has collected an unprecedented amount of data on daily life in the city. This has allowed them to monitor how the nation is functioning in real-time closely. Their transport networks, for example, make use of road sensors, smart parking, and phased traffic lights to improve traffic flow and solve congestion problems.
The Danish capital of Copenhagen is one of the most environmentally sustainable cities globally and IoT plays a significant role in their initiatives. The Copenhagen Solutions Lab developed an award-winning system that monitors traffic, connects parking systems, enables smart metering, and optimizes energy use. Among the city’s residents, cyclists benefit from this data the most. Made accessible to the public through an app, the data helps them navigate city streets and provides detailed guidance, down to how many calories they’ve burned and how fast they need to pedal to make it to the next green light.
Similar to Singapore, Dubai is at the forefront of technological advancement in its region. The city only recently embarked on a seven-year plan to digitize all government services, now accessible through the DubaiNow app. These services include transport, communications, electricity, financial services, and residency services (such as applying for an entry permit into the city or sponsoring a family). When the project is complete, city officials claim they will have saved around 245 million US dollars in paper transactions.
While the development of smart cities has led to growing concerns about security and privacy, the advantages of IoT are undeniable when used the right way and for the right reasons. For other countries that are interested in exploring this technology, outdoor gateways like the RAK7240 WisGate Edge Prime, RAK7249 WisGate Edge Max, and RAK7289 WisGate Edge Pro are good choices for implementing similar solutions. With global issues like climate change and pandemics pushing for more integrated solutions, as well as an increased reliance on technology to stay connected, we anticipate that smart cities will grow even more common in the coming decades.