There has been a big focus on smarter cities and we have seen more investment from both private and governmental bodies in different countries. Smart cities promote improvements in communication responses, the potential for remote control, and the development of interactive experiences for both public and private services. However today l will be focusing on Europe. The European Union has been embarking on its biggest programme yet where IoT is concerned, with a very impressive €192 million investment in IoT research. This programme started back in 2014 and is planned to end in 2017.
What is the IoT focus in the programme?
The programme aims to connect metropolitan cities, which in turn has pushed the improvement of business districts thus increasing growth potential. Another focus of the project has been the development of more advanced platforms for the forever increasing number of smart objects, devices, and networks to operate on. Over the years in the development of IoT we have seen a major focus around sensor supported devices, however, IoT is not all about sensors. The programme therefore partly focuses on developing smarter behaviours for these objects. Other key areas of development include the development of more advanced interfaces and a closer look at platform architectures with the aim of making them more self-organisable. Key focus points for these developments include smart water management, smart grids and smart agriculture.
But what have been the main barriers in deploying smart city projects in Europe?
Firstly, the restriction or a lack of connected infrastructure due to the increase in integrated internet-enabled solutions. Across most infrastructure there is now a higher need for more masts and availability for fibre/broadband connectivity. Furthermore, there needs to be an improvement in wireless broadband signal in certain regions to ease in deployment of masts in order to strengthen weak signal areas.
Despite the limitations stated above, we have seen plenty of smart city innovations in central Europe. For example, Amsterdam has already deployed an impressive 40 projects, including smart parking and home energy storage for integration with a smart grid. Meanwhile, in the UK the 2012 Olympics ushered in a Smart London Plan that aimed to use innovative methods to improve the lives of Londoners.
Another city which has embraced IoT in becoming one of the well-recognised smart cities within Europe is Barcelona. Barcelona’s extensive use of sensors to help monitor and manage traffic has influenced city planners to the extent that they have plans to remodel the flow of traffic with the aim of reducing traffic by 21%. A natural extension of this is their plan to further install smart parking technology as well as smarter street lighting. These efforts are testament to Barcelona’s strengths in using IoT to push sustainable energy projects, already seen in their smart grid pilots, smart meters and future plans to reduce carbon emissions.
It is becoming clearer that today smarter cities are not only being driven by innovative technology, but by the demand of economic, environmental and societal pressures. The number of high-density city populations growing across the world are increasing energy consumption, transportation demands, water usage and limiting space for fixed connectivity. We are therefore in great need of smarter solutions that drive efficiencies and promote a sustainable way of life. IoT sits at the heart of these smarter solutions.
With more European cities climbing the list of top global smart cities underpinned by a shift in governmental focus and private investments, the global outlook of smart cities is also changing.
Join me in the next article were l will be taking an in depth look of what’s happening outside of Europe..