Reaching for the future: Top 5 smart cities of the world

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117 billion Euro. That is the funding which the European Investment Bank provided for smart city projects across the European Union in the past 6 years. As projections show that nearly 70% of the global population will be living in cities by 2050, exploring new technologies which further simplify life in cities is on the rise. And as we’re launching our own City Smart Services solution, we took a closer look at the leading smart initiatives in various cities all around the world.

Singapore

The city state of Singapore aims to be the world’s first Smart Nation – that is the name of the initiative that  brings together data from a sensor network that stretches across the entire island. Collected data will be fed into an open data pool and also to a dynamic digital model of the city. This “Virtual Singapore” will allow city planners to test concepts, analyze traffic and run various simulated scenarios such as crowd evacuations during an emergency.

98% of the of Singapore’s government services are accessible online and citizen-centric mobile health, municipal and transport apps were also rolled out. The sensors and smart applications in public housing provide residents with feedback that helps them reduce their energy and water consumption and drive down costs. Together with a plan to equip all of Singapore’s vehicles with a satellite navigation system by 2020, these initiatives will provide an unprecedented amount of data that will improve future planning, development and maintenance of virtually all public projects.

Barcelona

The Catalan metropolis is the European pioneer in smart city solutions. One of its key projects is the introduction of wireless sensors at parking places – to ease city traffic by showing car drivers available parking spaces. The information is sent to a data center and made available via an app sending real-time data to users. This way the system guides the driver to the nearest parking spot. With the pilot already in place, first estimates suggest that it helps to reduce the average searching time from 15.6 minutes down to 5 minutes. People need less time searching for parking places, thus reducing noise and pollution. Also, the need to build new parking spaces becomes obsolete and saves money as existing parking places are being used more efficiently.

Barcelona has also introduced many e-government services which improve access to, efficiency and transparency of public services. At numerous locations (shopping centers, libraries, etc.), the city maintains digital kiosks that ensure a city-wide presence of the municipal authorities. The citizens can undertake most administrative procedures at these kiosks as well as online. Similarly the city runs a public web portal with over 300 categories of public data available instantly. The city is also implementing an innovative street light system which enables the lamps automatically adjust the light intensity. And it has developed a building that is capable of self-regulating internal air-conditioning and lighting.

Seoul

Built from scratch to become a smart city on 1500 acres of reclaimed land, Seoul’s Songdo district is a home to international business and a futuristic city experiment at the same time.

Smart work centers with teleconferencing systems enable a third of government employees to work closer to their homes. And those homes are also equipped with Wi-Fi and sensor networks. Waste suction systems dispose of household waste through pipes underground – transporting it to processing plants where it is sorted and recycled. And using smart devices and remote-controlled medical equipment, Seoul’s U-healthcare service provides medical consultations and telehealth check-ups for the elderly and disabled.

Seoul has also successfully developed and deployed a system that allows electric public buses to be charged while on the road. Electric cables under the road create magnetic fields which can be converted to electrical energy by devices installed underneath the vehicles.

Milton Keynes

This small city located in the heart of England is a prime example that smart technologies are finding their way to cities of all sizes. With population just over 250,000, Milton Keynes has become UK’s trailblazer in using the Internet of Things to make life more efficient for its residents.

The MotionMap app monitors the movement of vehicles and people across the city in real time. Similarly to Barcelona, the city is testing a sensor system that notifies drivers of free parking spaces. In an effort to reduce the redundant trips of garbage trucks, Milton Keynes has also implemented a remote sensor technology in its recycling centers. Prior to this, trucks would often arrive there, only to find empty trash cans. The sensors communicate with the trucks, so only when the trash cans are full the trucks will drive out to empty them.

Vienna

Last but not least on our list is the Austrian capital which is testing an environmentally friendly mobility solution for commuters called eMorail. Core element of the project is a railway service integrated with an e-car sharing and e-bike service. Commuters need to have a ticket for the Austrian Federal Railways as well as access to the use of an e-vehicle at their place of residence and destination.

eMorail provides a smartphone application for its customers. Its primary function is to enable people to book a vehicle. Other features include information about train delays, the distance possible to drive without charging the car or the bike, and details about the remaining credit available for travel.

The above are just a few examples of truly sophisticated smart city initiatives. However, even though such technologically advanced projects are indeed attractive, in the initial stages municipalities should focus on technologies that are re-usable and scalable.

That’s where Resco’s City Smart Services comes in. To reduce the time needed for development and deployment, City Smart Services is a complete, ready-made solution that facilitates the resolution of everyday issues affecting residents’ lives. However municipalities can also easily extend it to other scenarios – with all the designs, schemas, and source codes available as a starting point. They can add custom entities, create unique workflows, modify the user interface and more.

To learn how to best leverage City Smart Services, make sure to join us at the resco.next conference, taking place in Amsterdam, Oct 25-26, 2017. There, among 20+ technical and business sessions, you will also get a complete hands-on tour of the solution directly by the Resco team.

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