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18 Aug 2022

IoT and the Future of Sustainable Smart Cities

Eleftheria Kouri
IoT and the Future of Sustainable Smart Cities
In 2015 the United Nations set out a series of sustainable development goals (SDG) that aimed to transform cities the world over

In 2015 the United Nations set out a series of sustainable development goals (SDG) that aimed to transform cities the world over. With the power of merging technology, smart cities, smart factories, and more sustainable ways of living our lives are increasingly becoming a reality. 

Merging tech is an up and coming market dynamic where the benefits of distinct technologies combine to dramatically increase the value of both. A joining between the aggregating power of the Internet of Things (IoT) combined with the data analyzation of artificial intelligence (AI) compounds and increases the value of these merged technologies.  

What are the sustainable smart cities? 

According to a definition from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) a smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects. 

At present, KPIs for measuring smart city success include: ICTs, transport, productivity, infrastructure, spatial planning, innovation, air quality, water and sanitation, waste, public spaces, energy, education, health, culture, safety, housing, food and social inclusion.​ 

How IoT and AI can take cities to the future 

IoT is an integral part of smart city development because it involves the aggregate connections of billions of devices, thereby connecting buildings, smart cities, smart factories, connected retailers and connected vehicles. 

However, sensors in such areas produce an unimaginable amount of data, essentially too much for humans to analyze, comprehend and leverage. A merger with AI, which can be used to analyze and leverage mass amounts of data with speed, then compounds and increases the value of the merged technologies. Beyond that is quantum computing, which will take computational capabilities to yet another level. 

The successful development of sustainable smart cities depends on the coordination of multiple technologies and not on single technologies. Below are listed the most important technologies that are needed to drive a smart city’s sustainability efforts: 

  • Collect critical data with IoT sensors and devices: IoT is among the fundamental technologies that assist smart cities in meeting their sustainability goals. IoT sensors and devices are those that collect all the necessary data and information that allow city planners to monitor their progress against sustainability KPIs. 

  • Cloud computing for managing and scaling IoT smart city solutions: Cloud services are at the heart of sustainable smart cities for multiple reasons, such as:

    • They allow different smart city systems to store, exchange, and analyze historic and real–time data (with the assistance of AI) from multiple sources and make more efficient decisions. 

    • Cloud services are essential for the development of open data platforms that allow citizens and third parties to access and share information. 

    • Cloud services assist municipalities in scaling their solutions easily and reduce their environmental footprint, as they use only the capacity and power that they need.

  • Unlock the real value of data with AI/ML: AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies play a key role in sustainable smart cities because they allow both city leaders and citizens to make smarter and better-informed decisions. As the number of sensors and generated data is increasing within city environment, ML and AI are important for automating processes and for predicting potential downtimes/equipment failures in city services (such as waste management and water supply) and risks such as natural disasters. 

  • Empower data exchange with blockchain: Blockchain technology is allows all smart city stakeholders to share data securely without the need for a centralized administrator.  

Making the theoretical tactical 

Merging technology clearly offers a number of solutions for the creation and implantation of smart city structures, but knowing how to move from the theoretical to the practical for smart city planners and vendors can be more of a challenge. That’s why we’ve compiled our IoT as an enabler for Sustainable Smart Cities report. 

This in-depth report offered by Omdia offers recommendations for the public and private sector, introduces larger ideas around smart cities, gives key IoT use cases and applications that drive sustainability in smart cities, and gives a larger look into the smart city ecosystem.

This report provides examples of IoT use cases/solutions that can drive sustainability efforts in cities. It also provides examples of key players/companies that offer IoT sustainable solutions for smart cities. Get in touch to find out more.


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