Smart Cities - 3 unique examples from around the globe

Cities that are looking to become smart cities are generally targeting the same goals: improve quality of life, make their cities more competitive, reduce their carbon footprint, and make cities safer. Cities have deployed and are deploying smart solutions for power, waste management, lighting, transportation, and other services.  Cybersecurity is a key component as well.


Here we look at what three cities in Europe have been doing to become smart.  Europe has always been at the forefront of the Green Revolution.  So it follows that they would be out in front as well in adopting IoT, big data, and analytics, as reducing CO2 emissions is a key part of all this planning.

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First, we look at Berlin, capital of Germany.



The Smart City Berlin Network points out that in the near future, 70% of the world’s people will live in cities.  So there is the need to figure out how to accommodate all those from a comfort, reduced crime, and reduced carbon point of view and to make it less stressful to live in a large city.


Berlin has written the Berlin Strategy Urban Development Concept 2030 document to outline its plans to make Berlin a smart city.  The goal is to make Berlin a more competitive business hub, make citizens more comfortable and safer, leave a carbon neutral footprint, and foster innovation of all types.


Toward that end they are focusing on services and working with homeowners and businesses to have intelligent vehicles, smart homes, and a smart grid.


In Berlin tests are underway to allow vehicles to communicate with one another, a move that will make the streets safer. And to better care for the elderly and handicapped there is a focus on telemedicine.


In their planning document, Smart City Strategy, the city says that what has made all of this possible is the large advances in recent years in cloud computing, big data, analytics, and IoT.  They write: “These technologies have opened up what seems to be an almost endless array of technical possibilities for using sensors to automatically gather information about processes and events within the urban environment.”


And since Berlin is in Germany, where manufacturing is a paramount, part of Berlin’s plan is to promote Manufacturing 4.0.  That is the application of IoT, big data, and analytics to the factory floor and supply chain.


Finally, because Germans value their privacy, and have codified that into laws, the systems that aggregate data flowing from private homes are configured to protect the privacy of the people who live there by making that data anonymous. 


Read about IoT, Smart Cities  and Increasing Efficiency  


Amsterdam is the 16th largest city in the world and the 2nd in terms of becoming smart according to the Cities in Motion Index.


Like Barcelona, which we will mention in a moment, part of the Dutch strategy to become smart is to provide an API to make data gathered from the public open and accessible to anyone who wants to tap into and contribute to that. That data cloud helps with everything from transportation, building services, to tourism.


Amsterdam, along with 8 other European cities, provides this API as the CityService Development Kit.  For Amsterdam, it powers much, including the Dutch Traffic Link and Digital Road Authority.

 Smart Cities


Amsterdam is filled with pilot projects, and those in production too, of smart initiatives, which they have deployed to smart communities called Living Labs.  For example, in one community, 250 households have been given free intelligent power outlets supplied by the firm Plugwise. And in West Orange, 500 homes are connected to and controlled by smart meters.


In Amsterdam many people live on houseboats.  The city has banned diesel generators so those citizens have an obvious need to tap into smart grid shore power.  Those include smart meters and energy displays so that people can monitor their energy usage and thus cut down on their bill.

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Barcelona is another city that has added an API to its goal of becoming smart.  They call their data abstraction City OS.  The system includes free IoT devices and computing cards developed by Project of Fab Lab Barcelona and Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.


 Graphic Source: Barcelona City OS

Graphic Source: Barcelona City OS



The smart city API is called Sentilo.  Their project page says, “Sentilo is the piece of architecture that will isolate the applications that are developed to exploit the information ‘generated by the city’ and the layer of sensors deployed across the city to collect and broadcast this information.”


This data flows to the cloud and to social media and elsewhere using battery power IoT devices called the Smart Citizen Kit, which are Arduino computing cards fitted with sensors.  They measure air quality (CO2 and NO2), temperature, humidity, light intensity and sound levels.  The device is paired with a smartphone app too.


The Barcelona solutions include what they call Smartshelters, SmartMobility, SmartStation, Smartlighting, and Smartsensors.  These provide all kinds of services like letting people buy tickets as they walk into transportation hubs, get data at the bus stop and onboard, monitor air quality through the city, and navigate traffic.  The smart lighting system is based on LED street lighting that adjust to light levels. 


These are some examples of what some cities are doing to use IoT, big data, and analytics.  As this infrastructure is rolled out, it will grow exponentially because this becomes the base from which further innovation will spring as people find many more ways to use this technology to solve everyday problems.


Read about IoT, Smart Cities  and Increasing Efficiency