Will smart cities have taken over the world by 2026? Probably not. But there is no doubt smart cities are in fact on the rise. A lot of money is being pumped into smart city solutions all over the world as we speak. “Nearly 37 billion euro in 2017 alone”, claims market research firm Navigant Research. The agency is convinced that, by 2026, smart cities will have a market value of around 90 billion euros. Still, smart cities remain a rather vague concept for many. What is it exactly that makes a city smart? Read all about it here.
Smart cities in a nutshell
Smart cities are managed and controlled using IoT, short for the ‘Internet of Things’. Hospitals, schools, utilities, public transportation, city hall, the parks department, the police department, ... In a smart city, all public services and facilities are connected by a network of smart sensors and other technologies. The purpose of such a smart city? Creating a more efficient organization and bringing residents and the government closer together.
One example of a smart city solution you are undoubtedly already familiar with is smart parking. Sensors in underground parking garages keep track of how many cars enter and leave, and send those data to electronic road signs. Thanks to this smart system, motorists instantly know where to look for a spot. It is not unlikely that smart parking lots in the future will communicate directly with the GPS systems in our cars.
Saving energy in the smart city
Pollution, rising energy prices, power outages, ... are part of today’s reality. But smart cities set out to change all that using smart technology.
These are only a few ways in which smart cities save energy and reduce pollution:
Connected lighting poles
Are you one to report a broken light pole? Probably not. To keep maintenance teams from wasting time and gasoline looking for lamps that need replacing, smart cities connect their lighting poles to the IoT. When a lamp breaks down, the maintenance department is automatically notified.
Smart water pipes
Did you know that many cities lose up to half their water supply through leakage? Smart cities therefore connect their water piping systems to the IoT. By combining smart sensors with an energy management system such as fifthplay’s, smart cities keep a close eye on their water supply. In case of irregularities, the people in charge are instantly notified and costly water leaks are nipped in the bud.
Tip: companies, too, have a lot to gain from efficient energy management systems. Kanaal Z made an interesting documentary series about it!
Smart grids and smart meters
Switching to renewable energy sources is a must if we want to keep the earth habitable for future generations. Unfortunately, the switch to renewable energy also comes with annoying power outages, as operators can no longer produce as much electricity as they want and therefore have a difficult time adjusting supply to demand.
In a bid to eliminate power outages, smart cities are investing in smart grids, which regulate both power supply and demand. On excessively sunny days, when solar panels tend to generate more electricity than needed, a smart grid informs operators so they can temporarily shut down certain power stations. And when, for instance, an entire neighbourhood wants to charge their electric cars simultaneously, smart meters enable operators to temporarily cut off certain households until the electricity supply is back on track (but we’re not there just yet).
Everything starts with smart homes
Despite the increasingly sophisticated technologies available, there is still plenty of work to be done in the field of smart cities. The future certainly looks promising, though, considering the growing popularity of smart homes. Are you curious to find out how the energy sector can tap into to the smart home market? Discover our smart home solutions for partners!