Smart cities – characteristics

Smart cities (or communities, business clusters, urban agglomerations or regions) supposedly widely uses Information Technologies. These Information Technologies help with the following:

  • Enable the more efficient use of physical infrastructure (such as roads, construction works, ecology and other physical assets). Artificial intelligence and data analysis help maintaining strong and healthy economic, social and cultural development.
  • Provide means for effective interaction with local people on local government issues and for decision-making. Open innovation processes and electronic participation make this interaction possible, improving the collective intelligence of city institutions through electronic government. The focus is on citizen participation and collaborative design.
  • Moreover, they allow the city to learn, adapt and innovate. Therefore, it can more effectively and efficiently respond to changing situations through the improved intelligence of the city.
Smart cities

The Information Technologies evolve towards a strong integration of all aspects of human intelligence, collective intelligence, and artificial intelligence within the city.

Technological advances

The following technologies enable new ways of cooperative actions and collective problem-solving strategies in the smart cities:

  • Internet technologies promoting cloud services.
  • Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Smartphones and smart meters.
  • Wireless sensor networks with RFID chips.
  • More advanced communication based on the semantic web.

Some of these technologies are already well-known, the others are briefly described below.

Internet of Things

Internet of things, or IoT, is the concept of a computing network of physical objects (“things”). Generally, advanced technologies are embedded in these “things”, enabling their interaction with each other or with the external environment. The concept considers such networks as a phenomenon capable of restructuring many economic and social processes. As a result of implementing IoT human participation is some processes will no longer be necessary. In principle, IoT is the extension of the Internet Connectivity. The biggest advantage of Internet of Things is than the operator can control them remotely.

Smart meters

Smart meters are the advanced meters measuring the consumption data more accurately than the traditional household meters. Additionally, smart meters are capable to connect to the network and send the collected data to the monitoring centers. This allows remote monitoring and even remote payments for the utilities. Smart meters are similar to the conventional meters, with the exception of a few embedded modern technologies, such as:

  • Real-time reading, accumulating and storing of information.
  • Capability of detecting an energy loss, and warning the owners about it.
  • Technologies enabling monitoring the quality of provided services.

Wireless sensor network

A wireless sensor network is a distributed, self-organizing network of multiple sensors and actuators, interconnected via a radio channel. The cover area of such a network can range from several meters to several kilometers due to the ability to redirect messages from one node to another. Wireless sensor networks usually consist of miniature computing devices equipped with sensors (for example, temperature, pressure, light, vibration level, location, etc.). Another important components of a wireless sensor network are the transmitters operating in a given radio frequency band. Such a network allows to connect up to 65 000 devices. Flexible architecture and low installation costs distinguish wireless networks of smart sensors from other wireless and wired data interfaces.

Despite the fact that certain arguments against the development of the smart cities exist, we can safely call them the cities of the future!

Read more about the characteristics of smart cities.