CDAIT IoT Sensor 10.27.2021

Posted October 27, 2021

Smart Cities, Use Cases, and Examples

Angelina Kim, The Center for the Development and Application of the Internet of Things (CDAIT)

One of the more compelling applications of IoT fall into the category of smart cities and connected communities. Sensors and devices aggregate real time data to enhance multiple aspects of an urban environment such as safety, health, and environmental quality, and offers the promise of improved quality of life for urban denizens. Increased populations in urban areas means more stresses on current resources and infrastructure. Use of smart cities allows for efficient use of limited urban resources and improved city management functions.

            In addition, smart cities can help citizens confront unique challenges. Smart cities during COVID 19 allowed for creative solutions to the public health crisis. For example, South Korea used automation and robots as a way to deliver food. In the United States, IoT-enabled HVAC and filtering systems have been implemented due to COVID19. In an effort to obtain data about social distance efforts, Chicago used anonymized mobile location data to track travel patterns and model spread of the illness.


Municipal IoT applications
The transportation can be greatly improved through smart city applications that can result in reduction in congestion and increased information flows for public transportation customers, citizens, and city management. Connected devices and AI based automation can work together and manage traffic flows and reduce trip length. A report by Juniper Research finds that smart traffic management could save cities in the United States around $277 Billion dollars through emission and traffic congestion reduction. Furthermore, the use of connected cars could, for instance, inform drivers and cars of where the nearest available charging stations are, creating more ease for owners of electric vehicles. The benefits are not limited to individual vehicles. Public transportation can be improved through providing updated information about arrival times, current ridership, or fares to consumers. Disruptions along transportation lines could be updated faster or mitigated before they even occur.

Air Quality and Monitoring
Air pollution can vary widely based on location in a certain city. Sensors that monitor air quality can inform officials of where the pollution is coming from, where the pollution is worse, the fluctuations in air quality, patterns that arise, and predictive models of pollution. IoT technology can be used to remove hot spots for air pollution or influence citizen behavior through providing information. For example, citizens can be informed of hot spots within the city through automated text messages; this can encourage citizens into action like opting to take public transportation when they realize how bad air quality is. In addition, air quality and transportation can go hand in hand. When sensors detect bad air quality, reduction or redirection of traffic and congestion can be planned for using intelligent traffic managment. This can be especially important or useful for cities that struggle with local air pollution.

Energy Infrastructure
Historically electricity has been generated at a given locale and then distributed across a network, an electricity grid, typically to end-users which could be at great distances. An interesting energy-related application of IoT, would be as part of a smart electricity grid. As   alternative, small scale renewable energy production becomes common, smart (for instance bidirectional flow of energy) grids assume greater importance.  Adding IoT technology through sensors, devices, and computers allows monitoring of energy use and transmission. This can allow for more resiliency in the grid as real time monitoring allows for quick changes. Smart grid applications can prevent outages that disrupt daily life and can cause harm, especially during extreme weather events. In addition, smart grid allows for more efficient use of energy through managing energy during peak load times and vice versa.

Public Safety
            Yet another way smart cities can improve the urban environment is through enhanced public safety. Fire, emergency medical services, first responders, and police can all be improved through updated data and predictive models. For example, heat proof sensors can be used to collect data and alert firefighters as to where the fire started, potential exacerbators, spreading patterns of the fire, and potential occupants in a building. These would all work to enhance the firefighters’ capabilities as opposed to the firefighters going into a building blind.


Example of Smart Cities:
            Smart cities do not exist only in theory. Many cities worldwide have adopted smart city technology and incorporated the technology into city management. Singapore is commonly touted as the “smartest” city in the world for its widespread use of digitized healthcare and use of Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), improved and automated public transportation, and smart grid.

            In the United States, major cities have adopted some aspects of a smart city. For example, Boston, Massachusetts and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania both implemented smart city applications to monitor and alleviate traffic during peak congestion. Furthermore, cities like Boulder, Colorado have implemented use of the smart grid, and Columbus, Ohio uses smart city concepts to improve its transportation services.


For Further Reading:

Secure, sustainable, smart cities and the IoT


Smart Traffic Management Could Save Cities US 277 billion


Smart Traffic Research Management


What is a Smart City - Definition and Examples


Smart Air Quality Management for Smart Cities


The Smart Grid


Nine Critical Application of Smart Cities


Fire Technology and Smart Cities