The top 10 reasons why Smart Cities are a good idea [part 2]

5. Traffic flow monitoring

Amsterdam is also leading the way in the centralised monitoring of urban traffic flow, collating big data on the movement and density of traffic in each area of the city. Citizens are able to more accurately track traffic jams and slow moving areas in order to plan their routes more effectively according to up to the minute data. The centralised system already pairs with in-car navigation systems, which has led to a 10% average drop in commute times around the city.

Traffic incidents can be immediately detected based on the movement of individual vehicles, meaning that assistance can be dispatched more rapidly. More advanced traffic monitoring means fewer accidents on the road, a decrease in traffic jams and less strained infrastructure. With fewer people wasting time on the road, a corresponding decrease in urban pollution has followed, ultimately leading to more liveable cities for all. Moving forward, the local government hopes to implement an automated digital road manager to further streamline the movement of traffic in the city.


4. Responsive street lighting

Smart street lighting is another powerful feature of smart cities; with a centralised lighting system, city lights can be more easily scheduled directly from local government offices. In addition, smart streetlights can be utilised to monitor the flow of traffic (see #5) and pollution levels (see #8). Indeed, street lights can be made more or less intense according to the amount of traffic in a given area. If an area doesn’t experience much traffic, lights can be dimmed or turned off to save energy and reduce costs.

Beyond cost saving, the safety implications are huge. City streets can be intelligently lit to keep visibility high and prevent criminal activity. Moreover, if a street light is about to fail, the local government can be immediately notified in order to intervene and prevent an urban area from becoming unlit and therefore unsafe.


3. Better waste management

Stockholm has been experimenting with an underground tube system that gives each building access to a ground opening where waste and recycling can be deposited, organised and delivered to local landfill areas. Public places such as parks will also have bins attached to this underground system, meaning that all bins will be self-emptying. This means greater convenience for all, and no more garbage trucks on the road. Stockholm is aiming to power this system through renewable sources such as solar power.

Other cities will also be implementing smart bins, which monitor how full each buildings’ bin has become, transmitting this data centrally. This will allow for the more intelligent routing of garbage trucks, which will be routed to only cover the buildings that actually need their bins emptied. This again reduces the volume of garbage trucks on the road and can save local governments as much as 40-50%.


2. Flood and water leakage monitoring

Flooding and water leaks cause billions of dollars of damage every year and can completely turn a citizen’s life upside down. Cities like Olot, Spain are addressing the risk by fitting sensors to their river banks and bridges to give the local government a precise understanding of water levels everywhere. This allows the authorities to more effectively dispatch engineers and emergency services, and raise awareness in areas that are at risk of flooding. Additionally, these sensors collate data on levels of water and air pollution, meaning that the government is able to monitor these over time and act meaningfully to minimise these.

Utility providers are also embracing M2M technology by fitting sensors to their pipelines to provide continuous updates on the health of their piping system. This will be crucial in minimising the risk of flooding and wastage, and in keeping the price of water down.


1. Centralised Data Hub (Milton Keynes)

The number one feature of a smart city is the way in which local government can collate a massive pool of  big data from sensors fitted throughout the city to provide information related to local energy consumption, water use, traffic flow, population analytics and crime, and make it available to view all in one place. In addition to helping the local government get a more precise idea of how public infrastructure is being used to dispatch services more effectively, this mass of data tends to be made publically available for citizens and organisations alike. This is true of Milton Keynes, whose university is using this vast pool of data to educate students, citizens and professionals on applications of the data for business and technology innovation.

Local government is also using the data to better engage citizens through Citizen Lab, a series of community outreach programs that enable citizens to use the data collected to propose innovative solutions to local problems. The eventual impact of a centralised data hub on businesses will also be huge; this data is capable of driving business strategies in the areas of transport, marketing, utilities and many more.

allmapdata is facilitating a vision of the modern smart city through the licensing of advanced geographic data and software. Our datasets augment the geospatial side of the smart city ecosystem, providing advanced geographic data capable of displaying an address’ exact location, premise type, surrounding road status and other key contextual information.