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Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Areas, Part 4

In Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Areas, Part 3 of this blog series I described “smart cities” and the need to have an effective and reliable networking of smart objects inserted into the smart buildings of these cities of the future (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

An overview of the smart city platform technology. (Source: Hitachi)

An overview of the smart city platform technology.
(Source: Hitachi)

The smart cities project involves many different and appealing technologies, among which the most important are:

  • Smart power grids
  • Internet of Things

Let’s describe briefly these two technologies.

Smart power grids
The integration of smart power grids in the smart cities project is gaining further importance at the present time, and this is confirmed by the growing interest of big semiconductor companies for the smart grids. As an example, STMicroelectronics has developed a set of applications for the smart grids design by means of silicon-based IC devices (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

A design reference platform for the energy metering of a smart grid energy distribution system. (Source: st.com)

A design reference platform for the energy metering of a smart grid energy distribution system.
(Source: st.com)

Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a promising technology that plays a key role in the smart cities, where smart objects, like smartphones and tablets, can be connected with the central cloud of services. This solution will guarantee, for example, an easy implementation of a remote system to control the energy consumption of a smart house of a smart city, or e-health systems for the remote monitoring of patients at their homes by a medical center.

STMicroelectronics is particularly interested in IoT technology, because it is a top producer of two kinds of ICs that can easily be integrated in a smart object: MEMS and microcontrollers (see Figure 3). According to a company release:

    MEMS and Sensor suppliers will drive the IoT growth through continuous innovation and diversification of their product portfolio complemented with a robust and reliable high-volume supply chain and strong partner cooperation. The geo-economic specifics also need to be taken into account by developing the right products and support models for markets such as Asia, said Benedetto Vigna, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Analog, MEMS and Sensors Group, STMicroelectronics. ST continues to lead the industry evolution with its advanced technology and product portfolio that covers all key building blocks for IoT – MEMS sensors and actuators, together with embedded processing, power, and connectivity.
Figure 3

MEMS and microcontroller ICs are two key components of silicon-based smart objects suitable for the IOT. (Source: STMicroelectronics)

MEMS and microcontroller ICs are two key components of silicon-based smart objects suitable for the IOT.
(Source: STMicroelectronics)

What do you think of smart cities? Do you think that this solution is feasible and can be adopted widely all over the world? Do you think that smart cities could be connected in a cloud of smart interactive cities constituting a smart net of smart cities?

15 comments on “Smart Cities: The Future of Urban Areas, Part 4

  1. etnapowers
    October 13, 2014

    Form the link to STMicroelectronics web catalog:

     

    “A smart grid is widely accepted as being a digital, self-healing energy system that delivers electricity or gas from the energy source, including renewable energies, to the points of consumption. It optimizes power delivery and facilitates two-way communication across the grid, enabling end-user energy management, minimizing power disruptions and transporting only the required amount of power. The result is lower cost to the utility and the customer, more reliable power and reduced carbon emissions.”

     

    The integration of a smart grid in a smart city could increase the effectiveness of the communication and it could reduce  the level of pollution, this will make the smart city environment a pleasant place to live in.

  2. etnapowers
    October 13, 2014

    The presence of a smart grid in the smart city allows an easy realization of a electric mobility system, that can be managed by mean of the IoT technology. Each electric vehicle could communicate its position, or speed, to a central service that can manage the optimal route for a specified destination , emergency cases, etc…

    the smart cities are a perfect environment for the integration of Smart Grids and IoT technologies.

     

  3. Netcrawl
    October 14, 2014

    @etnapowers smart cities are the latest concept when it comes to building the future of the cities, its expected to be the key to combining a sustainable future with continued economic growth. The cities play a decisive role, its driving force of the economy, its where people want to live and work, that's why its the perfect place for the integration of smart grid and IoT.

  4. Netcrawl
    October 14, 2014

    @etnapower, in recent years, the question how we can live “smartly” in a smart city that has become the focus of policymakers and companies, millions of dollars are being invested in research, development and projects whuch contributes to the construction and development of truly smart cities, but why is there a great need for developing smart cities?

  5. etnapowers
    October 15, 2014

    @Netcrawl: I couldn't agree more with you. That's the main reason for why I have written this blog series about smart cities and I believe that the two technologies (smart grid and IoT) are perfect to this project. I hope that this model will be adopted by all the main cities in the world, because the people will enjoy a lower level of pollution and the urban environment might become a more sustainable and comfortable place to live into.

  6. Myled
    October 17, 2014

    “in recent years, the question how we can live “smartly” in a smart city that has become the focus of policymakers and companies, millions of dollars are being invested in research, development and projects whuch contributes to the construction and development of truly smart cities, but why is there a great need for developing smart cities?”

    Netcrawl, “smart” is the key word without any particular meaning; when it comes to implementation. Anything which can make the functionality automated or with less user interaction can be market as smart. We are all leaving smartly in one or another way. So it's just a concept

  7. samicksha
    October 17, 2014

    Taking Smart Grids into account, current infrastructure seems to be old, i am curious to learn how we are proceeding towards upgrading the same.

  8. ue2014
    October 18, 2014

    I think in general… In modern world, we use the Technology to invent many new smart things which supposed to be makes the lives of human beings smart and easy. Also innovations which would help to fight us against the scarcity, pollution etc. But my personal view is that, though some of these innovations are supposed to support our day today lifes, in the mean time, some of these has made our lifes and life styles bit more complicated. So when designing smart cities, I think that could be one important factor we need to consider that the real impact of these smart cities could bring to Humans lifes. Also we should not forget that this is a Universal concept which could be adopted worldwide where people have many different lifestyles.

  9. goafrit2
    October 19, 2014

    >> The integration of a smart grid in a smart city could increase the effectiveness of the communication and it could reduce  the level of pollution, this will make the smart city environment a pleasant place to live in.

    The greatest challenge with Smart Cities is not the technology but the platform. China or socialist nations like Cuba have better chance of building smart cities than democracies like US where cutting cost has become an appealing political strategy.

  10. goafrit2
    October 19, 2014

    >> Taking Smart Grids into account, current infrastructure seems to be old, i am curious to learn how we are proceeding towards upgrading the same.

    That is the problem and a big one. I know that investments in infrastructure are usually not big DIRECT concerns to companies that build the technologies and tools for smart grids. However, when you look critically, the determining factor is the government and how fast they can help ramp us important infrastructure to support any modern design.

  11. ue2014
    October 21, 2014

    Totally agree with you. In terms of setting up a smart cities &the infrastructure is concerned, the willingness of the government to go ahead with such projects & also the ability to make decisions bravely will play major role. Today, many useful projects are on hold due to government influences and protests by set of people who stands against almost for everything.

  12. samicksha
    October 23, 2014

    @goafrit2: I agree you completely here, determining factor is Government but motivating factor is companies directly involved in this.

  13. fasmicro
    November 3, 2014

    We tend to think that some of the iconic global companies can shape and change the world. But when you look critically, governments play major role to reshape every aspect of our societies. Until we see massive infrastrucure investment from government in this area, the smart cities may not happen.

  14. Davidled
    November 4, 2014

    I am wondering how much are a difference between conventional grid and smart grid. The generated energy should be delivered to building, home and office. Smart grid has more effectiveness to power transmission as minimizing the energy loss. Smart grid might be more involved for generating the resource of energy. That might be a true smart grid. 

  15. samicksha
    November 9, 2014

    Definately @fasmicro, Goverment plays major role here but i often get confused on what really we mean of Smart Cities, is it cities just with some big fat malls, pretty rich socitey or we mean to say infrastructure is smartly managed.

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