As more and more cities are integrating internet connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT) into their planning, the term “smart city” is becoming more common. By connecting various systems in city buildings and infrastructure to the internet, cities are gaining visibility and functionality that could only be dreamed of before.
For example, they can now see and manage their energy usage in every connected building, anticipate building HVAC needs based on external weather patterns or days of the week, receive real time alerts to dispatch repair crews for broken down trains or power outages, and increase efficiencies in thousands of other large and small ways.
For more specific examples of what makes a city “smart,” let’s look at Copenhagen , Denmark.
CopenHagen - Smart City
Copenhagen says the goals of Copenhagen Smart City are to become carbon neutral, attract businesses, and improve quality of life for its citizens. All three of these things together will also drive down energy costs and carbon emissions. To achieve their goals, Copenhagen deployed intelligent lighting and transportation systems, put sensors in waste bins to manage the collection of garbage and recycling, and installed sensors in the water system to help with flood control. They attached sensors onto vehicles, bikes, baby carriages, and more and use the data provided to reduce congestion, reduce theft, and make smart parking and transit systems.
Copenhagen worked with private vendors and public agencies to build the Open City Data Platform and Copenhagen Solutions Lab. The platform provides one data standard for the whole city, which makes monitoring weather, noise, waste, buildings, and other metrics easier and available to whoever needs it. Working with Hitachi, they built a Data Exchange where companies can sell data or download it for free. The Copenhagen Solutions Lab is also a laboratory where vendors and entrepreneurs can test their ideas and gather with other users and government agencies to share ideas and find partners to work with.
The current IoT system in Copenhagen is powered by a city-wide wireless network. In addition to providing the IoT communication infrastructure, it provides free wifi to everyone, which works towards their goal of improved quality of life and attracting more tourism. What else is Copenhagen accomplished, with their smart city?
Traffic Management and Intelligent Transit
There are multiple initiatives aimed at traffic management and making public and private transportation smart.
Copenhagen joined six other European cities in the 3-year Compass4D project, sponsored by the European Union. By putting sensors in vehicles and on the side of the road, the system monitors red light violations, road hazards, and intersections. For example, a vehicle knows when the traffic light in front of them is going to change. This avoids stopping unnecessarily, thus saving fuel. The system also helps coordinate lights and signs to move heavy trucks and emergency service vehicles more efficiently. The system was built by Siemens, Volvo, Hyundai, and dozens of other vendors. EU funding ended in 2015 but the solution remains in place.
Other transit systems monitor congestion and parking spaces, the movement of people and even bicycles. This helps with crowd control at public events and allows for dynamic pricing at parking meters and tolls. Copenhagen developed a cell phone app that lets motorists filter routes by weather, noise, roadwork, speed, pollution, and events. In a city with more bikes than people, safety is a priority. When a bike approaches an intersection, the system turns off the right turn light for vehicles, allowing the rider to pass safely through.
Smart Water Defense
Copenhagen is very close to sea level, and climate change plus rain means floods. Flooding has become such a problem that what was called “once-a-century” has become the norm. The city is working to create new systems, such as designated roads that turn into rivers, diverting flood water from property, and ensuring motorists use alternative routes. Sensors installed into pumping stations show which areas are flooding and ensure driver are rerouted before it’s too late. As new ideas and use-cases appear, Copenhagen can only become even smarter.
A Platform for Growth
Copenhagen may make smart cities look easy, but there are layers upon layers of variables involved. With the myriad of increasingly complicated services, software, hardware, and management systems that cities are using today, a horizontal middleware platform that allows every component to communicate as one system changes everything.
From Paris to San Diego, relayr Cloud, our protocol agnostic cloud platform, is delivering a fresh new approach to enabling Smart Cities.