‘Smart City’ initiatives are often discussed in the context of a vision for the future. However, there are many initiatives that are making an impact right now. Here, we cover 10 real-world smart city initiatives that are seeing results today.
1. Glasgow saves £144m from efficiencies of Smart City Tech
The City of Glasgow was an early adopter of smart city tech, after securing £24m in funding from Innovate UK back in 2013. They used this funding to launch initiatives such as The Glasgrow Operations Center - an integrated traffic and public safety management system. This provides a co-ordinated, real-time, intelligence-led response to incidents large and small across the city and is just one example of the efficiencies smart technology has brought the city.
2. Atlanta reduced traffic time after big events by 25% using Smart Lighting
INRIX, a big data firm, puts Atlanta at No. 4 in its ranking of the most congested U.S. cities. Analysts found that metro Atlantans spent an average of 70 hours in traffic jams during peak travel times. That costs each driver $2,212 and the city more than $7 billion. Introducing various initiative such as sensored streetlights and Alexa Alerts For Motorists To Help Avoid Jam-Causing Traffic Incidents. They also equipped 18 intersections with advanced technology designed to improve vehicle, transit, bike and pedestrian flow and safety, and help pave the way for autonomous vehicles. The results? The technology includes adaptive signal systems using artificial intelligence to eliminate stops and reduce wait times by 25 percent without increasing travel speeds, according to Mayor Kasim Reed’s office.
3. Participatory budgeting is allowing direct feedback from residents to be built into budget allocation process:
Participatory budgeting is a great way to engage people in the budget decisions around city initiatives that will affect (and potentially improve) their lives. The City of Paris launched a “Madame Mayor, I have an idea’, which will allocate €500 million to projects proposed by citizens between 2014 and 2020, and claims to be the largest exercise of its kind in the world. More than 5,000 ideas were received in the pilot phase, and more than 21,000 votes were received on the most popular proposal. The city has committed to investing €2 million in these projects - making this a true example of smarter citizen engagement in developing city initiatives and projects. LinkNYC - the digital kiosks replacing phone booths across New York City also included a participatory budgeting feature, allowing community members to propose and vote on projects like improvements to schools, parks, libraries, public housing, and other public or community spaces. The participating council districts decided how to spend $1,000,000 of the public budget, making this another great example of including citizen feedback in the decision making process, ultimately building cities that better meet the needs of their residents.
4. The City of New York sees more than 5 million people connected
Connecting people with municipal wifi brings a host of benefits - including bridging the digital divide, building social equity and making city services accessible to all. LinkNYC - the smart city initiative that is replacing phone booths with digital kiosks and providing free Wi-Fi across New York City has more than 5 million users. That’s more than the populations of the cities of Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Dallas, or San Diego who have used the free gigabit Wi-Fi service, with tens of thousands of new users joining the network each week. LinkNYC Wi-Fi subscribers have used more than 3,625,000 GB of data, the equivalent of streaming 580 million songs and 3 million video hours, sending 36 billion emails and 123 billion messages.
5. New York's MTA has improved transit wayfinding with the ‘On-The-Go’ program.
The New York transit system serves over 4.3 million people every day, and over 1 billion people each year. To help with trip planning as well as a host of other valuable information, the MTA deployed an innovative, interactive digital communications tool where customers can obtain information about their complete trip, from service status to trip planning to information about nearby destinations, resulting in an unprecedented amount of information accessible inside the subway system. The interactive screen, which employs capacitive touch technology, is housed in a stainless steel kiosk located at subway station entrances, in mezzanines and on platforms in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.
6. City of Newton has implemented smart trash solutions, reducing collections by 88%,
With thirteen village centers, numerous parks and schools that are densely populated with high volumes of pedestrian traffic, the City of Newton had visible waste, litter, and windblown trash problem - with citizens and businesses complained of overflowing waste containers in the City’s busy village centers. Well known for its green spaces and picturesque neighborhoods, Newton sought a solution that would keep their community cleaner and enable an effective public space recycling program to reduce the City’s environmental impact.
Newton’s City officials partnered with Bigbelly to architect a city-wide public space smart waste and recycling solution. A deployment of 340 Bigbelly smart high and standard capacity units were installed across 170 locations to provide recycling at every collection point, and resulted in the reduction of collections by 88%, at the same time as an increase the quality of life for citizens by creating cleaner and greener public spaces. And they’re not alone. According to Navigant Research, the global smart waste collection technology market is expected to grow from $57.6 million in 2016 to more than $223.6 million in 2025. Several other cities — including Boston and Baltimore - already use smart trash cans with real-time sensors for city sidewalks, with the aim of improving trash collection efficiency.
7. Cities in the Netherlands have Smart technologies to improve safety for residents and visitors.
Eindhoven in the Netherlands outfitted a popular street known for its nightlife with Wi-Fi on lamp posts, video cameras, and over 60 microphones. The goal was to detect early warning signs of aggressive behavior and alert the police before it turns into dangerous or illegal behavior. The local government has also experimented with changing the lighting on the street to affect the mood of the crowds and even used odors, such as the scent of oranges, to try to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
Another example of improving safety using technology is In Woensdrecht, a town of just 22,000 inhabitants. There, a six-mile bike route to neighboring Bergen op Zoom used to be a dangerous path to take in the dark winter months. So, the city installed 65 smart street lights–LEDs that would turn on automatically when a car or bike was approaching and then turn off when there was no traffic. It’s also made it safer for children to travel between the two towns in the dark after school.
8. The City of Barcelona has seen a 25% increase in Water Conservation in parks, saving approximately $555k a year. They also saw a 30% energy saving on urban lighting system by using smart technologies to enhance the efficiency and utility of lighting posts
The City has implemented IoT technologies to remotely sense and control park irrigation and water levels in public fountains. Using sensors to monitor rain and humidity, park workers can determine how much irrigation is needed in each area. A system of electrovalves is then remotely controlled to deliver necessary water across the city.
Lampposts sense when pedestrians are in close proximity; when the streets are empty, lights automatically dim to further conserve energy. The lampposts are also part of the city’s WiFi network, providing consistent, free Internet access throughout the city. Moreover, they are equipped with sensors that collect data on air quality, relaying information to city agencies and to the public.
9. Trikala, a small farming city in the center of Greece, has implemented an e-complaint system, and slashed electricity usage in some areas by 70%
Through collaborations with partners, participating in EU-funded projects and offering up a test site for local tech companies, the city cut its debt by €20m and has seen a host of benefits from smart technology initiatives.
Out of all the projects, the e-complaint system has had one of the biggest impacts on residents’ lives. Since the start of the year, the municipality has received about 4,000 requests and comments. About 10% came from a smartphone app released last year, according to the municipality, and issues are resolved more quickly (averaging eight days rather than a month). Elsewhere, an experiment with sensor-equipped streetlights slashed electricity usage by 70%.
10. Citizen Cards have been helped make citizen life more convenient and seamless for 1.1million residents of Taiwan.
The cards feature multiple functions including personal identification, transportation tickets, electronic wallets, and access to various daily-life services, with mobile payment through apple pay, google pay and Samsung pay. This has made life more convenient for the residents of the city.