Smart City

A City That Never Sleeps…

Asokan Ashok

Febrauary 07, 2017
Smart City

The development of "Smart Cities" can be traced to 2008, when IBM published its vision for a smarter planet. Over the years, the phenomenal growth and applicability of the Internet has led to an ever-increasing number of connected devices to make Internet of Things (IoT) a reality.

The Smarter Planet Vision led to conceptualization of efficient and effective power grids, healthcare, traffic and navigation systems, security systems as well as waste management and water conservation. Ultimately the vision gave a big push to practical designs for interconnected and interdependent civic systems complemented by the data collected to generate prudent analysis and predictions.

The Smarter Cities campaign followed in 2009, during which IBM held close to 100 smarter city forums to complement cognitive approaches to help cities run efficiently as well as improve the life quality of residents and overcome longstanding challenges.

Smart City

Start Spreading the News

Researchers point to an interesting fact: A majority of the population of the world is expected to be living in cities by 2050. Transportation, utility services and buildings of all kinds need to make the most of the contemporary technologies and innovations to offer sustainable environments to the citizens. On the other hand, exemplary citizen-centric experiences need to be integrated with these millennial cities to reach better living standards and keeping its residents engaged.

Along with Smart Homes, Smart Buildings, Smart Work Places, Smart Shops and the like powered by IoT, Smart Cities have remained a prime topic of discussion in the recent years. With promised integration of technologies and infrastructure development, Smart Cities combine a wide range of people-centric IoT solutions.

In the U.S., Smart Cities Council explores the possibilities of high quality living within sustainable cities, made possible by intelligent designs empowered by digital technologies. The council effectively partners with technology giants like Microsoft, Cisco, Schneider Electric, IBM, GE, Deloitte, Qualcomm and AT&T and ensures the best possible collaborations are brought together in implementing smart technologies.

The Smart Cities Council also associates with other countries, including Australia, New Zealand and India, to help them transition select cities to turn them into Smart Cities.

There are many wireless protocols/technologies that enable smart city applications and use cases, among them are new developments in cellular & short range wireless technologies. Companies like u-blox have taken lead in providing a range of wireless modules that enable the technologies powering the smart cities of the future. Many of these products focus on new cellular standards and unlicensed technologies, such LTE Cat M1, NB-IoT and RPMA, that offer great in-building range and long battery lifecycles that are beneficial to Smart City solutions.

Urban Sprawl

The smart city market is estimated to grow at an astounding CAGR of approximately 19 percent, making it a $750 billion enterprise by 2020 with well-defined categories of applications.

The interlinking of critical assets such as schools, healthcare centers, transportation systems, municipal networks, community services and law enforcement offer better living to the occupants of these Smart Cities, continually tracking and monitoring the well-being of its residents with appropriate digitization and contemporary technologies.

Quick & Efficient Urban Mobility Solutions

Traffic Management

Traffic congestion is a major matter of concern in urban areas. While traffic problems cannot be eliminated considering factors such as population and increasing number of vehicles, smart traffic management can go a long way in making commuting easier for the residents.

Public Transport

Public transport systems become the hub of connectivity for people in most countries. A well-coordinated and orchestrated public transport system with integrations between different conveyance systems on the roadways, railways and waterways makes commuting faster for citizens.

Smarter on the Go

Smart City

Optimal Use of Natural Resources for a Sustainable Environments

Smart Cities are greener cities, using discrete technology to achieve new efficiencies. The motto is: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Optimal Use of Natural Resources

Water Management

Smart Water systems constantly collect important data such as water quality, flow, distribution rate, pressure and usage of water within the city. Determining water consumption and wastage patterns leads to design and automation of corrective measures to conserve this very important resource on earth.

Smart cities also optimize the energy spent in water transfer and distribution, which can typically amount to half of the total energy spent within a city.

Waste Management

Large cities generate huge amounts of waste making it essential to leverage waste management within a Smart City. Sensor-based garbage detection with alarms and notifications for garbage containers about to get full or with a requirement for cleaning creates a definite impact.

Technology adoption leads to automated integrated waste management solutions radically different from landfills, trucks or manual labor jobs to increase the efficiency of operations.

Energy Management

Smart Grids continuously collect data related to electricity consumption and distribution across homes, offices, schools, hospitals, malls, shops and streets. With real-time monitoring, optimized consumption solutions are implemented across the urban landscape.

Smart Meters automatically record usage patterns and analytics point out appropriate changes in the habits, leading to reduced usage and bills.

Smart Buildings for Safe, Healthy & Connected Living

A Smart City becomes the super set of all buildings around, interconnected with technology & solutions.

Security & Surveillance

With connected cameras and round-the-clock surveillance, smart cities ensure the next level of security for its residents with due respect for their privacy. Tracking crime becomes easy and law enforcement more efficient with a network of wired devices and their support systems.

Automated monitoring coupled with sophisticated alarming systems and video analytics make practical surveillance possible 24*7. Neighborhood watch programs become more dependable as well.

Emergency Services

Critical Emergency Services re-engineered operate in collaboration with the Smart City platform. Sensor based technologies like the beacons keep a tab on activities of the less abled, the elderly and children for prompt actions in emergencies. City-wide tracking in real-time mode ensures better implementation of emergency services with maximized coverage with automated decision-making.

Smart buildings help predict fire and other disasters, prompting timely corrective action and the insight into the distribution of occupants within premises or the city.

Education in Smart Schools

Smart Cities will lead to Smart Schools, which in turn mean retained student attention in classrooms, and ultimately better quality of education. Better students make better citizens. Easy collaborations and synergies between institutes maximize benefits for the students.

Public Health Delivered

Smart Cities bring changes to public healthcare as well, where the goal is to move beyond ordinary cures and promote lifestyle management and health supervision as a preventive approach.

Digital sensors within the city scan the human body and transmit the data periodically to healthcare units where continuous analysis reconfirms the well-being of the residents.

Real-time updates on pollution or pollen levels in the areas of the city save many from allergies and irritants. Citizens remain updated about their vital parameters like blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rates and temperature with properly configured alarms for the caretakers and hospitals.

Smart City

Digital Inclusion & Digital Governance

Smart Cities reshape governments through digitally delivered public services and transparencies brought in by open data. Contemporary leadership, infrastructure to avail technology and collaborations between governments, businesses and citizens drive urban informatics, the backbone of a Smart City.

The Smart Cities approach pushes regimes across the world towards facilitating digital inclusion and driving self-service approaches to access government services. Collaborative platforms for participative governance offer services seamlessly across devices and choices of platforms.

IQ of the Smart City

Smart cities offer exemplary citizen experiences driven by the shift of focus of the civic authorities to service rather than administration, leading to complete transformations of the cities.

Smart Solutions enabling Cities to integrate technology in development powered with the correct data and critical information lead to a tremendous improvement of infrastructure and services. However, there are challenges.

Challenges in Adoption, Advantages & Disadvantages of a Smart City


  • Ensuring complete security of personal data
  • Maintaining collaborative efforts between various agencies within the city on a unified platform
  • Identifying & retaining talent to roll out the solutions
  • Making technology available to make the most of the Smart City solutions especially in the tier 2 economies


  • Sustainable Environments
  • Increased Efficiency
  • Resources Utilization
  • Delivery of Services to Citizens
  • Engaging Citizen Experiences
  • Improved Quality of Life
  • Efficient Decision Making by Civic authorities


  • Probable data breaches
  • Delays in roll outs

Around the World via Smart Cities

The economically powerful countries in and around the United States, Europe and Australia boast of a growing number of Smart Cities with an accurate roadmap for digital advancements and demographic growth with sustainable development.

Incentives such as the World Smart City Awards keep the governments motivated to shift towards Smarter Cities.

But what is raising eyebrows is meticulously laid out plans and impressive executions to metamorphose cities of the less developed areas like Africa and some Asian countries. India draws special attention with its evolving digital inclusion policies for the diverse populace and the smart city challenge heralds the crusade of re-engineering pilot cities to evolve into smarter ones.

Adding Intelligence to a City

Adding Intelligence to a City

Technological Foundations of Smart Cities

Technological Foundations of Smart Cities

Our Take

It is estimated that by 2019, a large number of urban residents will use BOTS or similar intelligent systems to manage their daily needs. A huge number of countries are expected to set up national level policies to develop smart cities and arrange for funding during 2017. In the coming years, Civic Authorities related work is set to become the third largest investment area when it comes to smart cities. Gartner predicts that Smart Cities Will Include 10 Billion Things by 2020.

The Smart City approach is intended for a complete transformation in the way people live. Adequate research and planning is required to study the unique needs, demographics and the expectations of communities in the different parts of the world. Over-ambitious plans may end up flaunting technology rather than serving practical purposes to make lives better.

Cities around the world are expected to invest around forty trillion dollars over the next 20 yearsto put conducive infrastructure and policies in place to make smart cities a reality. Industry experts, vendors and other service providers can make the most of this promising opportunity.

As Big Data becomes Smarter, Artificial Intelligence & Data Science emerge in the new era with Connected Technologies, Smart Cities of the Future will help provide people with Safe, Healthy & Smarter Choices for Living. Looking forward to seeing these advancements enhance the life style of citizens in the near future.

Have you seen your own urban or suburban environment becoming "smarter" with the implementation of IoT-connected technologies? What are some of the specific ways these technologies are being to put to work where you live?

Will there be a point in which residents object to further technological integration to preserve a modicum of privacy and freedom?