Despite being responsible for the generation of 80% of wealth worldwide, cities are facing global economic, demographic, social, and environmental challenges. With estimates that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, it is vitally important that our cities are able to meet and overcome these challenges. IoT might just provide the solution to creating the sustainable cities essential for a prosperous, healthy, and safe future.
What is a smart city?
The first question is what is meant by a ‘smart city’. The answer is, there is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people around the world. The conceptualisation of a smart city, therefore, varies depending on the level of development, willingness to create change and reform, and aspirations of the city residents. A smart city would have a different connotation in Asia than Europe, and both would differ to the interpretation in Africa or South America.
This is something we’ll continue to explore in the coming weeks, but generally smart cities can be seen as a crucial step in making cities more efficient, safer, and more environmentally and economically sound. On a more micro level this could include easing congestion, pointing out parking, reducing road accidents, monitoring and improving refuse collection, predicting natural disasters, and safeguarding locals and workers through connected CCTV.
Here at Pangea, we are delighted to be playing a key part in the creation of smart cities, both here in the UK and internationally. Our projects so far have included:
- Supporting local councils with transport initiatives that provide real time data on air pollution, to help reduce traffic congestion, improve public health, and kick start projects to protect the environment
- Making roads safer and saving energy with smart street lighting solutions, delivered over a secure and private network with real-time management
- Ensuring city workers stay connected in rural areas with our extensive coverage, multi-network solutions, and bespoke data plans
- Keeping city retailers trading should busy mainlines ever go down with our on-demand mobile broadband backup solution
Supplying connectivity that allows city taxis to display targeted digital adverts using geo-location technology
ROI in smart city projects
It’s worth noting that the ROIs of these Smart City projects can often be more than just monetary value.
For example, our award-winning work with public transport initiatives has provided local councils with valuable real-time information that has been used to support them in bidding for government funding to improve the city. The ROI of our Birmingham Bikes project also included:
- A reduction in carbon emissions: An increase of 3% in all journeys being made via a bicycle should demonstrably reduce the carbon emissions from public and private transport. Assuming these journeys are replacing equivalent car journeys, we will have helped to offset 17,000 kilograms of carbon per week
- Understanding of environmental points: The devices can measure air pollution and quality levels, giving the council a view of their most polluted areas. This will increase the accuracy and efficiency of tree-planting in the long term
- A reduction of traffic congestion: The devices can track the cyclists relative to public transport and give an accurate account of the opportunity to streamline track routes in real-time
- Public health and social improvements: With 56,000 miles travelled per week, the users are burning 1 million calories! Furthermore, the bikes are acting as a catalyst for community engagement and will have both long and short-term benefits for the environment and fellow citizens
We’re now using similar IoT tech to power our latest project, the Big Data Cycle, which focuses on exploring how IoT enabled bicycles can keep cyclists safe, help them train harder, and transform how councils tackle complex environmental problems. To find out more about the project and what it means for smart cities visit our Big Data Cycle page.
So, which cities are currently getting it right, and which ones are lagging behind?
According to the annual IESE (Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa) index, New York, London and Paris are the three world cities who perform the best across a variety of metrics. New York ranks first in Economy, third in Technology and fourth in Human Capital, Public Management, Government, International Outreach and Mobility and Transportation. However, it still performs poorly in regard to Social Cohesion, in which it ranks 161st out of 181. This dimension is also one of the biggest weaknesses of London (129th) and Paris (91st). Social cohesion measures inequality, unemployment rate, prices of property and the ratio of women workers, among others. It is an area where our world cities need to do better on.
In some of my future blog posts I will take a closer look at some of world’s smartest cities, and the steps being taken to tackle the present and future needs of the modern city in terms of economic, social, and environmental priorities.
In the meantime, if you would like to know more about partnering with Pangea then please get in touch here.