Advertisement

Blog

Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Areas, Part 1

The new trend of urban city architecture is in the direction of the realization of a Smart City. This term indicates the possibility of integrating IOT technology and the smart grids energy management systems. This is the basic idea at the base of the IEEE Smart Cities initiative, that focuses on the integration of data shared with the cloud of smart systems placed in the buildings of an urban area, constituting the infrastructures to realize a smart management of energy, of medical e-health devices, and of domotic systems for the automatic management of the smart houses (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

The basic concept of smart cities (Source: IEEE Smart Cities)

The basic concept of smart cities
(Source: IEEE Smart Cities)

One of the cities in the world that is strongly betting on the smart cities initiative is Guadalajara, Mexico, which started the building process of a very interesting network of universities connected with important companies in a challenging project, known as Mexico’s Silicon Valley.

Guadalajara dedicated a wide urban area to the smart city initiative, by adding communication infrastructure and facilities containing many interesting services for citizens of this modern smart city: The project is known as the Ciudad Creative Digital (CCD) project (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

The Ciudad Creative Digital (CCD) project (Source: www.carloratti.it)

The Ciudad Creative Digital (CCD) project
(Source: www.carloratti.it)

The possibility, for example, of collecting the energy from renewable sources and managing it via a smart grid system is a step in the direction of a modern city, which offers to its habitants many interactive services, by means of a cloud of connected smart electronic devices belonging to the Internet of Things:

According to Intelligent Utility:

    It’s all part of a proactive, comprehensive strategy embraced by the city’s leaders to seize the opportunities presented by Guadalajara’s differentiating characteristics and the brand-new possibilities created by revolutionary technology innovations in areas such as the “Internet of Things” (IoT), the smart grid, e-health and augmented reality. In this light, Guadalajara is a global leader in its forward lean into its smart-city future.

An example of the potential of this approach is the e-health solution realized by means of smart electronics objects, like tablets, shown in Figure 3:

Figure 3

The Idaho Health Data Exchange project (Source: www.ehealthtechnologies.com)

The Idaho Health Data Exchange project
(Source: www.ehealthtechnologies.com)

The possibility of sending images of medical reports of a patient to a center that is able to analyze the data and that is able to take care of the patient remotely, based on the reports, is a practical example of the possibilities of electronics to realize an e-health system that can be integrated into the smart city structure.

Do you like such smart cities projects? Do you think that a city with the integration of electronics systems able to communicate effectively will make the lives of its citizens easier? What services should have the higher priority inside a smart city environment — for example: medical remote assistance, safety cameras control, smart traffic management… ?

53 comments on “Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Areas, Part 1

  1. etnapowers
    September 18, 2014

    The IOT technology is a really promising technology and it fits very well with the needs of citizens of services and functionalities accessible easily by users's smartphoses and tablets. The IOT may help to perform many services to the citizens, for example the lightpoles big-data-sensors project, consisting in a set of smart sensors inserted in the light poles of Chicago streets, may be integrated with the cloud of devices and coordinate the monitoring of traffic ,to reveal the presence of road maintenance points , to measure the quality of air and to count the number of people at a particular point of the city.  

  2. Netcrawl
    September 18, 2014

    @etnapower I agree with you, but for the IoT to work well, all devices must be able to connect seamlessly  however there's is no single wireless or wireless technology that can efficiently serve across entire network. To develop a cost-effctive products companies need to able to select the optimal communication channels and protocols for their applications and products, as a result the entire IoT works will be based on a variety of standard and wireless protocols. 

  3. Netcrawl
    September 18, 2014

    @etnapowers connected devices need to able to use protocols such as ZigBee that are lightweight and have a data rate that reflect their requirements. I believe WiFi is still the appropriate technology when high data rates are required(transporting video), for low-bandwidth applications that do not require direct user interaction, a 2.4 GHz ZigBee could be a good fit, while for a simple application such as garage door systems, we can use a sub-GHz radio technology.

  4. etnapowers
    September 18, 2014

    @Netcrawl: you're absolutely correct. in the part 3 of this  blog series there's the description of the need of communication standards for the smart cities, otherwise there will be confusion between communication protocols and this confusion will make slow down the development process of the smart city project.

  5. etnapowers
    September 18, 2014

    @Netcrawl, thank you for the nice post. The ZigBee is a good example of communication application that is compliant with IEEE communication standards. The sensitivity of transceivers of the connected devices, and the robustness to the interferences are two key parameters to ensure the success of the cloud of the IOT technology.

  6. Davidled
    September 18, 2014

    Today, everyone is talking about internet. They present just it as Cloud SymboL. But, I would like to see more detail for internet presentation instead of Cloud. For example, Internet could be present as analog/digital circuit.

  7. etnapowers
    September 19, 2014

    @DaeJ: the internet is a term that is comprehensive of many possible interpretations. I can understand your need of more details , I think that the basic idea of a collection of similar connected smart devices is the best definition of internet of things that applies to the smart cities project

  8. goafrit2
    September 19, 2014

    The IOT technology is a really promising technology and it fits very well with the needs of citizens of services and functionalities accessible easily by users's smartphoses and tablets.  

    The problem with these designs is that today's governments do not have resources that can effect them. We need to understand that the world is broke as sovereign debt is a key challenge across nations. None of these designs may matter expect in Dubai/UAE which has tons of money to do anything they want. 

  9. goafrit2
    September 19, 2014

    For example, Internet could be present as analog/digital circuit.

    That has been done. Just google Electric Imp.

    The Electric Imp platform features fully integrated hardware, software, OS, APIs and cloud service, providing your devices with intelligence, scalability etc

  10. Davidled
    September 19, 2014

    I guess that Electric lmp is Cloud services that simply connect to internet.  I am wondering if electric lmp could be presented as internet.    

  11. bjcoppa
    September 20, 2014

    Smart city building plans for innovative new cities is taking off in east Asia and modernized parts of the Middle East like Dubai more so than other parts of the world. These cities offer paradigm shifting overhaul of infrastructure enabling the growth and inception of smart grid and renewable energy tech that would be limited or blocked in the case of predetermined cities which would need incentives and retrofits. Always easier to build with end-goal in mind in advance rather than after the fact. That's why a national renewable energy standard of 15-20% for all energy sources is needed in the US for solar to really take off rather than ad hoc temp incentives that may go away.

  12. Davidled
    September 20, 2014

    @Paolo Scalisi, the detail description for internet Symbol (Cloud) shown in the figure 1 might be useful for understanding the figure.  For example, Internet symbol might be be represented as base station controller or Mobile network.

  13. etnapowers
    September 22, 2014

    “Internet symbol might be be represented as base station controller or Mobile network.”

     

    @DaeJ: It may be both of the items that you suggested. In the coming parts  of this Blog series you can find more images of smart cities that could be useful to describe the internet.

  14. geek
    September 28, 2014

    While the fact that integration of all applications and data points is certainly very useful, there's also another side that needs to be looked at. The fact that everything will be centrally controlled imposes a huge risk of a loss in case the system gets hacked or there's an attack. The need to have proper information security on the data and the systems becomes more than critical in this case.

  15. geek
    September 28, 2014

    “None of these designs may matter expect in Dubai/UAE which has tons of money to do anything they want. “

    @goafrit2: I don't think that's entirely true. If you talk about everything being financed by the government then yes that becomes impossible. However, there are ways to have public-private partnerships in cases like these. Governments can find private companies who're looking to invest in these projects and obviously get returns in the process. It isn't something unheard of. From bridges to railways to even airports there have been projects built in this manner.

  16. geek
    September 28, 2014

    @analoging: I think that's very important that smart cities have a lot of focus on using renewable energy in their projects. Since the entire infrastructure is in their hands, it's fairly easy for the designers to ensure that there are adequate number of energy projects that make use of different forms of renwable energy sources available.

  17. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    The IOT technology is a really promising technology and it fits very well with the needs of citizens of services and functionalities accessible easily by users's smartphoses and tablets.

    @etnapowers, I totally agree with you. I think all the major cities should start implementing IOT based projects so that they can get benefited from technology like IOT. I am curious to know what other cities are taking such initiative.

  18. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    but for the IoT to work well, all devices must be able to connect seamlessly however there's is no single wireless or wireless technology that can efficiently serve across entire network.

    @Netcrawl, true. No doubt infrastructure is a big hurdle in implementing IOT based projects but then if we start planning and implementation of such projects then technolgoy companies can work in tandem with government across the world to provide such technology.

  19. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    The sensitivity of transceivers of the connected devices, and the robustness to the interferences are two key parameters to ensure the success of the cloud of the IOT technology.


    @etnapowers, I agree with you that sensitivity and robustness are two key parameters. I am curious to know if we can use existing transceivers meet this sensitivity criteria or do we need special kind of transceivers.

  20. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    For example, Internet could be present as analog/digital circuit.

    @Daej, I am curious to know how is it possible to present Internet in terms of analog/digital circuit ? I guess it would be very hard to demarcate between analog and digital section especially when you are trying to represent something as big as Internet.

  21. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    I think that's very important that smart cities have a lot of focus on using renewable energy in their projects.

    @tzubair, I totally agree with you. Many people dont invest in renewable energy is that it has high initial cost. But they should understand that running cost of renewwable energy is very less and government should also encourage renewable energy by reducing taxes on such equipments.

  22. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    However, there are ways to have public-private partnerships in cases like these. Governments can find private companies who're looking to invest in these projects and obviously get returns in the process.

    @tzubair, true. Public-private partnerships are common these days. Private players invest in the projects and they get the share of revenue generated from such projects. I am sure such model can be implemented here as well.

  23. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    @Daej, tre. Electric Imp is again a cloud based service. I dont think Electric imp represents Internet as a whole. I think its part of internet and not internet itself.

  24. SunitaT
    September 29, 2014

    The problem with these designs is that today's governments do not have resources that can effect them.

    @goafrit2, if governments doesnt invest in such projects then it will not create new jobs and will thus hamper the growth of the nation. I think government  should take such projects seriously and invest in them so that it helps them improve the gdp.

  25. geek
    September 29, 2014

    “But they should understand that running cost of renewwable energy is very less and government should also encourage renewable energy by reducing taxes on such equipments.”

    @SunitaT0: The running cost gets lower only in the long run because in the short run the running cost involves the depreciation of the capital equipment used in the project. Often that cost is fairly high and spread over the years. Once you're able to cover that cost, then the running cost will come down.

  26. geek
    September 29, 2014

     

    “Public-private partnerships are common these days. Private players invest in the projects and they get the share of revenue generated from such projects”

     

    @SunitaT0: Even from an execution angle, the private-public partnership model suits better. Private companies are more aware of technology and they're in a much better position to handle technical projects than the government itself. This is why you may have better results if a private company is allowed to handle a project in partnership with the government.

  27. dassa.an
    September 29, 2014

    @tzubair: Yes Private industry can make profits because they do it that way. Without profits they cannot run along. So its always better to hand over things to a private firm if things are not going that well for the company. 

  28. dassa.an
    September 29, 2014

    @tzubair: Yes but that process will take some time. You cannot do it overnight.

  29. Sachin
    September 30, 2014

    @tzubair: The running costs will be high for a short period of time, true, but if there are enough logistics to predict the market value against capital equipment, then this running cost can be minimized using such statistics.

  30. Sachin
    September 30, 2014

    “Even from an execution angle, the private-public partnership model suits better. Private companies are more aware of technology and they're in a much better position to handle technical projects than the government itself. This is why you may have better results if a private company is allowed to handle a project in partnership with the government.”

    @Tzubair: Indeed, if private-public relationships are made easier (like fund exchange, project supervisions etc.) then the private-public relationships will flourish. The best example we get to see in this matter is the makeup of a city into a smart city, using sensor networks, cloud systems, and AI centres. While the private supplies with the brains and the technology, the public facilitates the money for such a huge task.

  31. Sachin
    September 30, 2014

    “The problem with these designs is that today's governments do not have resources that can affect them. We need to understand that the world is broke as sovereign debt is a key challenge across nations. None of these designs may matter expect in Dubai/UAE which has tons of money to do anything they want. “

    @goafrit: most of these systems will be built by collaboration from public and private sectors. Companies are a huge money powerhouse (I've heard reports that Apple is richer than the entire US treasury) and what they are interested in seemingly loss oriented projects is that they get to do data mining and analysis, and since data is the currency today, I think that public-private relationships will be a hit.

  32. Sachin
    September 30, 2014

    @etnapowers: Don't you think that this kind of a technology would also mean we would be losing our privacy as after the installation of IOT, everything is hack-able and monitor-able and a point will be reached when we will be giving money to the government to “buy” monitoring-free time. IOT is good, but it can also be bad. IOT is the best thing that happened to NSA and other monitoring agencies.

  33. Sachin
    September 30, 2014

    “So it's always better to hand over things to a private firm if things are not going that well for the company. ”

    @dassa.an: Are you talking about third party vendors? Most private companies opt for third party vendors which are also private, and the government (or public sector companies) has little to do except exercise contracts and project funding. You are right that government has different marketing policies and cannot match with the marketing policies of any private firm, because for government, a product is marketed for its “citizens” and for private companies, a product is marketed for its “consumers”.

  34. yalanand
    September 30, 2014

    Private companies are more aware of technology and they're in a much better position to handle technical projects than the government itself.

    @tzubair, I totally agree with you. I think government should encourage more public-private partnership but government should choose the private player based on merit instead of randomly selecting private partner.

  35. geek
    September 30, 2014

    “The running costs will be high for a short period of time, true, but if there are enough logistics to predict the market value against capital equipment, then this running cost can be minimized using such statistics.”

    @SachinEE: Whent it comes to covering costs for a renewable energy project, it is also important to consider what price are you charging to the end consumer. There are not many people who'd want to pay a higher price for electricity just because it's coming from a renewable energy source. Yet, the initial costs that need to be covered up are much higher for renewable energy companies. That serves as a challenge to the energy companies – cover costs but also remain competitive enough to be able to expand user base.

  36. geek
    September 30, 2014

    “I think government should encourage more public-private partnership but government should choose the private player based on merit instead of randomly selecting private partner.”

    @yalanand: I agree. The choice of a partner can't be made randomly. A lot of stratergic thinking and long-term focus is needed to pick a partner so you can't also pick the one that is going to charge the lowest costs. What you need is a partner who has the vision to build a smart city together and who's willing to invest into different projects where their expertise lie.

  37. fasmicro
    October 4, 2014

    >> I guess that Electric lmp is Cloud services that simply connect to internet.  I am wondering if electric lmp could be presented as internet. 

    It is a component that helps you connect things via IP address to the Interet. I do not understand what you mean on “f electric lmp could be presented as internet.”

  38. fasmicro
    October 4, 2014

    >> Smart city building plans for innovative new cities is taking off in east Asia and modernized parts of the Middle East like Dubai more so than other parts of the world

    It is far easier when you are building a city from scratch as they do in Dubai. For most already existing big cities, the opportunities are different. They have to tear things down before they begin to build new ones.

  39. goafrit2
    October 4, 2014

    The fact that everything will be centrally controlled imposes a huge risk of a loss in case the system gets hacked or there's an attack. 

    I think we do not have to worry about that in the industry. The weakest link is what matters. Even if you do not have them together, the weakest link factor will still rule. Central or distributed control can work when the designer understands that the weakest link is what matters.

  40. goafrit2
    October 4, 2014

    >> However, there are ways to have public-private partnerships in cases like these. Governments can find private companies who're looking to invest in these projects and obviously get returns in the process

    PPP works very well when there are uptakes for the private investors. In most advanced economies, the rate of return is not great to tie capital down since growth is not fast when compared to developing world. The model of PPP has been working for some developing nations but in advanced countries, that is not the case.

  41. goafrit2
    October 4, 2014

    Governments cannot be expected to fund many things in this era of economic austerity because economic expansion is not correlating with population. If you look at it, say in U.S, the population is growing faster than opportunities people have to support themselves. Jobs that used to keep families require more education. And those jobs are not static – they change and adapt which create uncertainty. With all those issues, welfare is expanded and that means lesser money for infrastructure and development.

  42. goafrit2
    October 11, 2014

    >> I think government  should take such projects seriously and invest in them so that it helps them improve the gdp.

    Government is always the key driver in any development. China has proven that government can build nations through targetted and focussed investments. When countries fail to invest, they have themselves to blame.

  43. fasmicro
    October 11, 2014

    >> Governments can find private companies who're looking to invest in these projects and obviously get returns in the process.'

    Private companies cannot fund cities these days. They fund apps and websites which will need few millions. The reason why Dubai has been successful in building a new city is because they have the petrodollar to drive these projects. I am not sure of any country that has that luxury.

  44. fasmicro
    October 11, 2014

    >>  I totally agree with you. I think government should encourage more public-private partnership but government should choose the private player based on merit instead of randomly selecting private partner.

    Practically in this type of project, it is the private investor that chooses government. When the capital moves into billions, the selector is the private capital and not the government.

  45. ue2014
    October 27, 2014

    I agree with your point. It is always easy and more suitable to build a new city from scratch. Otherwise, since people's lives are disturbed and some changes will occurs to their day today life, the resistance also would be high. On the other hand, starting a new city from scratch will also make government's also more comfortable in supporting them.

  46. goafrit2
    November 8, 2014

    >> I guess that Electric lmp is Cloud services that simply connect to internet.  I am wondering if electric lmp could be presented as internet.

    It is a hardware component that helps take systems to the web by helping them become HTTP-compliant. 

  47. goafrit2
    November 8, 2014

    >> On the other hand, starting a new city from scratch will also make government's also more comfortable in supporting them. 

    In Africa that is the model. Government asks investors to go and develop new cities like the Centenary City in Abuja in West Africa which the Dubai king group is developing. The challenge in most Western countries is that property right is strong and government cannot take people's land in the name of developing new cities when those people are not interested in selling.

  48. goafrit2
    November 8, 2014

    >> Smart city building plans for innovative new cities is taking off in east Asia and modernized parts of the Middle East like Dubai more so than other parts of the world. 

    They are indeed having a great trend because they started very behind and have lots of ground to catch. But do not bet on this as oil price falls. They could be another crises in these regions. You can build the city and find no one living there because oil wells are running dry!

  49. Davidled
    November 8, 2014

    I think that they have an enough oil to pump it up for next million years, as they are blessed. Question is to how they maintain smart city in their culture and religion as well as their visitors. Smart city should interact with most people daily. Culture and religion might change the definition of smart city.     

  50. nasimson
    November 8, 2014

    > China has proven that government can build nations through targetted and
    > focussed investments. 

    In our business, we deal with Chinese cmpanies both semi-govt (Huawei) and govt owned (China Mobile, ZTE) and private European companies (Nokia Networks, Ericsson). I have found the Chinese companies as little-less on cutting edge and innovation but very competitive, efficient and agile.

  51. fasmicro
    November 10, 2014

    >> I think that they have an enough oil to pump it up for next million years, as they are blessed. 

    You assumption is that oil will still be relevant in the next 50 years! If they get all cars to electric, who will need oil?

  52. fasmicro
    November 10, 2014

    >> I have found the Chinese companies as little-less on cutting edge and innovation but very competitive, efficient and agile.

    That is not debatable but for the fact they are very competitive, it does imply they do innovate. Without innovation, there is no way one can compete.

  53. nasimson
    November 29, 2014

    > You assumption is that oil will still be relevant in the next 50 years!
    > If they get all cars to electric, who will need oil?

    @fasmicro: Even if all the cars go to electric, where will this electric power come from? The power supply from homes largely comes from burning oil. So oil is not going ot go away anytime soon.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.