How IoT Is Shaping The Smart City

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the backbone of smart cities. As it ushers us into a new era, we are no longer mere spectators. IoT is spreading at a fast pace, evolving and embracing innovation along the way. It is making our dumb-devices, smart and our smart-devices, efficient.

Cities are the lifeline of an economy and IoT is making them smarter day by day.

What to expect when you’re expecting? The innovations, of course!

Are you a fan of Sci-fi movies? If you look back to old Sci-fi movies, you’ll realise the movies with superior tech and gadgets are the same gadgets which we are using now! The real world has outpaced the innovation dreamt up for the silver screen. For example, we wear a much more advanced version of the SmartWatch than what was shown in the movie Spy Kids. It might also be true that what we consider futuristic today are already in advanced stages of development, just look at the worlds of robotics and self-driving cars, for example.

Smart Cities will leverage advanced connectivity to serve their citizens and they will customize their solutions to their needs on a person-to-person basis. They will be user-oriented and assist us in getting through our daily routines more efficiently, optimising the utilisation of resources, thereby, fostering a sound and sustainable environment.

To lay the roadmap of smart cities, we need connected roads. These will form the core of smart cities. Each streetlight will gather and send useful information, measuring both pedestrian and motorized movements, for instance. This will allow them to go into energy conservation modes, automatically switching on or off depending on the motion detected. This could save a lot of power, reducing our dependence on the power grid.

We all know that big cities are a big problem when it comes to parking. In the UK, a recent study revealed that drivers spend close to 4 days a year just looking for parking space! In the smart city, an app could tell you when and where a spot opens up and you can head right there. Simple. No need to waste time driving around. Your nearest streetlight will know when to turn green if there is an ambulance behind you before you even hear the siren. If you own an electric vehicle, it will also notify you about the nearest site where you can charge your plug-in vehicle. In fact, there are beta tests right now of solar-powered roads which will be able to recharge your vehicle even as your drive on them.

Smart Cities also help the disabled in a way that will make them more independent. They will be able to switch on a streetlight from across the road, the button will be present in the wheelchair itself.

Waste management corporations can know how full the containers are in real time and alter their routes accordingly. Sensors will provide updates on air pollution, noise pollution and river levels in real time, helping us to keep a tab on floods and whether to stay home or go out.

Water and electricity meters will be connected to the cloud so that field agents will not need to come home to check the meter readings. This will aid in saving the resources. In case of an accident, it will alert the respective departments and help will arrive at the earliest. Remote monitoring will provide updates of the situation and drivers will get warnings on their GPS to slow down or be cautious. These updates can even be sent to smart road signs.

Traffic lights can adjust according to the traffic flow, if the road is clear, the sign can remain green. There will be no unnecessary need to wait for the signal to turn green and will help in preventing traffic jams.

Connected Cities will provide a full suite of applications from Smart Lightning, Parking Assistance, Connected Charging Stations, Equipment Accessibility, Connected Waste Bins, Environment Stations, Remote Monitoring, Video Management, Automatic Watering, Dynamic Information, Wi-fi and Li-fi (Light Fidelity) Connections, etc. Although it will be a long time before cities embrace all these innovations in India, the first steps are already being taken.

Where are we?

The Smart City Mission (SCM) is urban renewal and retrofitting platform by the government of India with a mission to develop 100 smart cities across the country. The vision is to make cities citizen friendly and sustainable. The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.

Among the projects in SCM are affordable housing, integrated multi-modal transport, creation and preservation of open spaces, and waste and traffic management. The projects focus either on a particular area of the city or the entire city.

Although the government is putting its best efforts, it is also a fact that all the cities will not have the same level of implementation and the progress may vary.

Three years ago we started the mission, where are we now? What is slowing down progress? These are some answers which our government can give efficiently and accurately, but there are some initiatives that are being implemented already like digitization of the libraries, making a city open-defecation free, Sehatmandi — to promote health, toilet reporting to complain about unhygienic toilets, open gyms, reading zones, the wall of kindness, etc. which are helping people and are considered the first step to smart cities.

These are some small steps they are taking that will constitute to a better future. The strategic components of area-based development in the Smart Cities Mission are city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (greenfield development) plus a Pan-city initiative in which Smart Solutions are applied covering larger parts of the city.

To transform India into a developed country, smart cities are going to play a big part. It is a blessing in disguise that many of our cities are lacking in basic amenities. Making these cities smart will mean leapfrogging decades worth of development that these cities have missed out on. Due to this, these cities are eager and hungry for change, unlike in the west where some cities are resistant to change. As they say, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. While the government has taken some welcome first steps, going all the way is what will count in the long run. Hopefully, this will not be like other policies which take so long, the policies are obsolete by the time they are implemented. Moving in the right direction is only half done. The rest can be judged when we get there.