It's no question that world population is rising and urbanization continues to widen: population is estimated to double by 2050, with over 60% of people living in cities in search of better opportunities. Now, more than ever, citizens and governments are on the lookout for intelligent solutions to create sustainable, efficient and beneficial environments, which will raise the quality of life. The answer? Using IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to form Smart Cities.
As in everything, progress and adaptation require change; many existing urban infrastructures are outdated or simply can't keep up to speed with the advancements in technology and human needs. The Smart Cities trend uses IoT devices such as connected sensors, meters and other intelligent applications to analyze data, and learn from it in order to implement crucial changes to improve the well-being of city-dwellers or the seamless operation of the city.
According to Anil Menon, Cisco's deputy chief globalization officer, "A smart city relies on technological solutions that enhance its existing process to better support and optimize the delivery of urban services, to reduce resource consumption and contain costs, and to provide the means and the opportunities to engage actively and effectively with its citizens, with its visitors and with its businesses".
With IoT devices and applications growing more and more popular (speech and voice recognition is set to be worth $18.3 Billion by 2023), our increasing adoption of smartphones, connected homes and other intelligent apps is set to bring on a true revolution. Combining these with AI and implementing them in Smart Homes and Smart Cities creates a new field, Ambient Intelligence; we can see a powerful trend where all these technologies are being seamlessly embedded in homes, workplaces, hospitals and various businesses, allowing us to support and enlarge the data repository. Ambient Intelligence uses elements such as embedded sensors, AI and nanotechnology, spanning any aspect or industry imaginable, to create truly Smart Cities, buildings and organizations.
Using IoT and AI to create smarter and more efficient cities has so many uses and benefits, we're not even sure we can name the whole list! Implementation can be feasible in anything from HVAC systems to reduce AC power consumption, public safety, traffic/parking and utilities such as water and electricity. Smart Cities can include anything from smart buildings, smart transportation, smart networks and smart energy/environmental awareness - with city governments investing over $41 trillion over the next 20 years to improve infrastructures, according to Smart America.
In Hong Kong, for example, IoT is already being used in manufacturing, logistics and utilities, as well as various building systems (climate control or security systems), to promote comfort, safety and efficiency. Moreover, Hong Kong's Smart City initiative aims to build more green buildings with smart lighting and smart water meter systems to promote energy efficiency, reduce waste and minimize carbon emissions.
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Image courtesy of Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint[/caption]
With Smart City initiatives all over the world it's easy to find more and more examples. Countries such as France, the United States and the Netherlands are also putting IoT and AI to use. In Paris and NYC, there has been testing for connected car programs to reduce traffic congestion, improve road conditions and even help with parking; In Las Vegas, IoT sensors are used to manage traffic lights based on environmental issues such as carbon dioxide levels and traffic conditions; and in Amsterdam, a main goal is reducing energy consumption and boosting safety by providing solar panels and energy storage solutions as well as installing LED lights city-wide, possibly saving up to $13 billion a year.
Safe to say, large-scale automation and utilization of IoT and AI can improve the general quality of life, save energy and water and pose extensive benefits to the people, the governments and the environment. Moreover, it simplifies monitoring and receiving insights for energy usage or other data, giving better control and creating a seamless city and more educated citizens, all focused towards one goal. For the individual user, IoT and Home Automation can pose many amazing benefits on a more focused scale of improving comfort, adding the ability to manage life's day-to-day systems such as water, electricity and air conditioning, enhancing them to fit the Smart Home of the future. Here are some additional resources you may find interesting: