A bright future for smart cities

Date: Wed, 11/07/2012 - 18:33

The technological, economic and social stakes around smart cities are interesting topics for the smart technology industries. In a world where the demography is exploding, many municipalities are exploring the Smart City concept as a way to improve themselves and become better places to live, work, and grow

A bright future for smart cities Image credited to Cartes

The CARTES Exhibition, that take place in Paris, will emphasize smart cities projects. Concrete implementations for the connected city (services, transport…) will be featured in a special area dedicated to Smart Urban Mobility. Autolib and NXP will present their know-how in terms of equipment and traffic management.
More than half the world’s population lives in cities, and the percentage is growing rapidly. According to McKinsey, in China alone 350m people – more than the current population of the United States – will move to cities by 2030. To accommodate the millions migrating to cities in search of the coveted middle-class urban life, Brazil, China, and India are raising new cities from dust. Meanwhile, countries like Sweden, UAE, Russia, South Korea and Portugal are also building new cities as magnets for talent and innovation, and the economic growth that they bring. Cities, not nations, now compete for people, ideas and capital, and increasingly, a city’s “smartness” is becoming a major selling point.

Offering access to information technologies as we guarantee access to drinking water
Many municipalities around the world are exploring the Smart City concept as a way to make themselves better places to live, work, and grow. Smart City solutions are therefore leveraging IT not only to deliver higher quality citizen services more efficiently, but also to affect behavior change in government workers, city businesses, and citizens so cities can develop more sustainably.
A city becomes “smart” when all parts of its infrastructure and government services are digitally connected and optimized. The city’s intelligent infrastructure is powered by three key technologies that share environment and citizen data constantly: sensors, the cloud and smart interfaces. Key-characteristics of Smart Cities therefore are: smart economy, smart mobility, smart governance, smart environment, smart living, smart people. In a Smart City, the usage is centered on a networked infrastructure to improve economic and political efficiency and enable social, cultural and urban development. Infrastructure means business services, housing, leisure and lifestyle services linked to ICTs, ie mobile and fixed phones, satellite TVs, computer networks, e-commerce, internet services, thus bringing the idea of a wired city as the main development model and of connectivity as a self-fertilizing source of growth.
A fertile field for new technologies
Technologies are available for implementing smart city solutions: pervasive wireless and broadband connections, advanced analytics software, intelligent sensors. The profusion of mobile devices and the use of social media can be integrated by vendors to provide solutions for city governments.
More specifically, wireless sensor networks are the major component supporting the creation of Smart Cities. Thanks to a distributed network of intelligent sensor nodes, a wide range of parameters can be measured for a more efficient management of the city and data are delivered wirelessly and in real-time to the citizens or the appropriate authorities.
All communication-based technology (NFC, RFID, Wi-Fi, Buetooth…) are mobilized in Smart Cities projects and programs, especially for maximizing transportation efficiency, reducing traffic delays, cutting fuel waste and carbon emissions.
A wide range of services and applications
The main services delivered within the city are: Public safety, transportation (connected cars and public transports), utilities (electricity, water and gas distribution), healthcare…
Among a wide range of initiatives, some emblematic Smart Cities ‘under progress’ can be pointed out:
• the ‘U-City’ (Ubiquitous-City) model in Korea, enabling urban functions and services such e-Administration, traffic, crime prevention, fire prevention and home-networking, with major experiment in the ‘new Songdo City’ to be launched in 2014
• Cityzi, the most emblematic French initiative featuring Smart Cities, has been launched in Nice in May 2010. Based on a combination of smart phones and NFC technology, the Citizy application is gathering telcos, banks, transit system companies and a wide range of service providers.
• the ‘Amsmart erdam city program in the Netherlands, addressing mainly sustainability in living and mobility.
A $40 billion market in 2016
There is a huge and diverse market for ICT-based smart city initiatives and a wide range of solutions are mushrooming around the world. This trend is general as modernization is a common obligation for cities dealing with complex issues such as population growth, climate change, and resource limitations.
According to ABI Research, the global market for technologies that feed into and support Smart City programs and projects are expected to grow on a global basis from $8 billion in 2010 to exceed $39 billion in 2016, accounting for $116 billion in cumulative spending during that period.
Different studies, performed by major consultancy companies share the same conclusion: Smart Cities will have a brilliant future, especially with application opportunities generated by NFC-based exchanges and transactions.
Smart Urban Mobility solutions at CARTES
In the heart of Paris and its 46 partner cities, Autolib, the largest electric public car-sharing service in the world, foreshadows the next urban revolution: the generalization of interconnected, low environmental impact devices. Autolib also represents an organizational and technological challenge successfully met thanks to Polyconseil’s contribution on the project’s main strands, such as intelligent communication between vehicles, rental stations and on-board computers, call center management, Customer billing, Vehicle/Station load balancing, web front and back offices as well as the mobile applications associated with the service.
NXP will show a next-generation traffic management system based on its ATOP telematics solution (automotive telematics on-board unit platform). The on-board unit contains a GPS receiver that wirelessly collects, with optimal privacy, real time traffic data and feeds it via mobile data link to a back office. Currently tested in Singapore, such comprehensive mobility concepts provide a cost-efficient solution that will allow people in smart cities to optimally use and combine all means of transport – including public transport, taxi, individual transport means and car sharing.

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