As urbanization increases, cities around the world are rushing to integrate new technologies to improve the lives of civilians. Technologically advanced urban areas, also referred to as smart cities, enhance the lives of citizens through digital technologies that improve, enhance, and connect infrastructure. By using IoT technology, urban areas can collect and use data to make decisions for improving processes. With this, smart city technology betters the lives of the population by optimizing transportation, public safety, air and water quality management, and energy conservation. 

Examples of Smart City Technology 

There are many uses for smart city technologies. Here are some of the most common applications of these systems and how they work to improve systems across transportation, safety, and environmental sectors. 

Smart Transportation

Developing a smart transportation infrastructure optimizes travel while also improving safety. By using big data and IoT technologies, smart city transport systems create a network referred to as an Intelligent Transportation Network, otherwise known as ITN. This network has a myriad of capabilities. For one, an ITN includes a transportation management system to improve the flow of vehicles. ITNs also inform citizens of road conditions through a route information system and electronic timetable, offering suitable public transportation options. To access these public transit options, ITNs can provide citizens with rechargeable fare cards, further simplifying travel. Finally, an ITN can prevent accidents by implementing a safety and vehicle control system to alert citizens of dangerous road conditions. 

Predictive Crime Technology

Smart city technology promotes the safety of citizens by implementing real-time crime mapping technologies to determine patterns of crime. Surveillance street lights, crime-mapping systems, gunshot detection systems, and CCTV collect data for analysis by autonomous artificial intelligence technology. With this, law enforcement can more easily identify crime hot-spots and predict incidents to re-enforce security in high crime areas. With this, smart city technologies can decrease crime rates in cities, keeping civilians safe and deterring incidents. 

Smart Energy 

Utilizing big data helps cities become more energy efficient. For example, smart energy grids can plan out energy distribution by using data to regulate supplies to different areas based on consumption. Additionally, a growing number of cities have begun utilizing smart lighting. This technology allows for automatic light adjustment to conserve energy, as well as video surveillance, traffic, and curb management, traffic light controls, and public wifi capabilities. Self-learning buildings also save energy, using wireless sensors and data mining to optimize building heating and ventilation. 

Smart Environment Technologies

IoT technologies enable environmental monitoring to promote greener cities. By collecting and utilizing emissions data from monitoring systems to prevent road and building pollution and providing real-time air quality updates to the population, helping them avoid hazardous areas, these technologies improve air quality and the health of citizens. Similar technology also improves water quality by collecting data on flow, chemical composition, and consumption in real-time, helping maintain clean drinking water and reduce water waste. 

Smart waste management systems also help keep cities clean by using data collected by sensors to prevent overflowing by monitoring fill levels, optimizing waste collection routes to minimize carbon emissions, and reducing overall costs of operations. By utilizing IoT sensor technology, cities can maintain clean streets, preventing pollution. 

Benefits of Smart Cities

Public Safety

Through increased surveillance, improved road conditions, and environmental monitoring, smart city technology drastically improves public safety by preventing dangerous crimes, vehicle accidents, and environmental hazards before they happen. With this, citizens can rest easy knowing the environment in which they live optimizes systems with the population’s health and personal safety in mind.  

Energy Efficiency

Smart city technology helps make cities greener by utilizing technology to make processes more energy efficient. By reducing commute times, tracking air and water quality, and building energy-efficient buildings, urban areas can reduce their carbon footprint while improving the quality of life for its inhabitants. 

Improved Transportation

Improving connectivity between infrastructure and citizens through IoT technology helps make urban transportation more efficient. From traffic and public transit updates, parking assistance, and digital fares, citizens can commute and travel with ease. Simplifying these systems also reduces emissions through lessened travel times, creating more environmentally friendly transportation. 

Challenges of Smart Cities 

Security and Privacy

IoT technology may become susceptible to cyber-attacks if not maintained promptly. The results of these hacks may have catastrophic consequences, compromising the security and privacy of millions of citizens. With this, smart cities are investing more money into security, utilizing new encryption techniques to protect against hacking and cyber-terrorism. 

In addition to cyber-crime, increased surveillance and sensors may draw privacy concerns from citizens who see these technologies as an invasion of privacy. Though these measures aim to deter crime and improve processes, a lack of public education may contribute to concern. When implementing smart city technologies, transparency, and education, regarding new technologies remain imperative to the successful integration of these systems into the lives of citizens. 

Costly Integration

Installing and maintaining smart city infrastructure costs millions of dollars and may take years to implement due to a lack of funding and slow approval processes. Replacing old infrastructure may also come at a hefty price, as complicated, unforeseen challenges with transportation, wiring, pipes, and internet installation can put projects back by days to months, causing issues for city residents. When looking to implement these technologies, developers and tech companies must work together to find solutions, overcoming these challenges in a timely and cost-efficient manner. 

Inclusivity 

Many smart city technologies aim to connect citizens with the infrastructure around them. With this, technology needs to be available to all citizens to ensure the successful integration of these systems. Ensuring that these technologies are widely available, user friendly, and affordable remains a difficult task and may further divide between income and education levels if not implemented properly.