In Smart Cities, digital technologies translate into better public services for citizens, better use of resources and less impact on the environment

Smart Cities: making our lives smarter and more comfortable

Think about how you distinguish between a town and a city. Is it the presence or absence of a main street or boulevard, or the size of its town hall, or maybe just a sign saying so as you drive into the area? In the UK, a city is a city so long as it has an active local government and is home to at least 300,000 residents.

The line is blurrier, however, when it comes to the ‘intelligence’ of a city. It has no bearing on the IQs of the residents, but rather the term ‘smart city’ is an indication of the level of technological connectivity that makes life easier, safer or more sustainable for residents. The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a large part of the movement for smarter cities, as everyday objects or previously inanimate things can take on new life as more intuitive, useful tools.

City planners in this day and age have the pressures of sustainably developing cities for the future, as well as the opportunities that come with the IoT. You may know them as ‘digital cities’ or ‘connected cities’, and the European Union states on its page dedicated to the concept, “In Smart Cities, digital technologies translate into better public services for citizens, better use of resources and less impact on the environment.”

It makes good business sense too, with a Navigant Research report estimating worldwide revenue from Smart City technology will grow from $8.8 billion in 2014, to $27.5 billion in 2023.

Here are some examples of Smart City and IoT projects we thought were very interesting:

  • The Korean capital of Seoul installed sensor-laden rubbish bins to solve a sanitation issue, allowing for rubbish collectors to make data-driven decisions about collection of trash. Cleaner streets make safer suburbs and happier residents, thanks to IoT.
  • In an area of São Paulo, Brazil, the introduction of LED traffic lights helped the council reduce energy consumption by 80%, save on maintenance costs and provide brighter traffic signals for pedestrians and motorists. From a safety perspective, potential accidents are prevented.
  • The city of Santander, Spain, shines in its use of IoT – specifically, for installing sensors that monitor irrigation in parks, guide drivers to free parking spaces and monitor environmental factors. All this information is being fed into a research project aimed at making this, and other EU test cities, more efficient and Internet connected.

IoT in the home is arguably more attainable, not to mention less expensive and easier to implement. Anybody can quickly and easily install a complete home surveillance solution including the Smartfrog Cam and see what is happening in their house, apartment or small business at any time. Although unlike many of the large-scale city innovations, the Smartfrog Cam is very affordable for users and can be easily set up within minutes.

As an Internet company in the IoT space, Smartfrog hopes to see the cities in which it is based become increasingly more connected places to live for the everyday benefit of residents and the environment.