Smart City: How To Do It

The population is still nowadays increasing and changing. Increasing since we will get to eight billion people before this generation dies. Changing since, according to the UN , 66% of the total population of earth will live in cities by 2050. With this projections we are facing a challenging problem in the management of large urban areas.

In order to improve the functioning of urban areas the Smart City concept was created. Basically, it involves using ICT’s to optimize and change several aspects of the urban functioning. The biggest challenges being tackled nowadays are waste management, energy consumption, and population movement – these challenges are already a problem in the cities of today and will become unbearable. But in order to avoid chaos, some cities have started promoting some policies and projects that are an interesting beginning of the solution.

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Managing electricity consumption in the individual household

In the problem of managing the energy consumption, one of the great improvements that we are implementing is focused in the electricity consumption on private households. One of the problems in the electricity consumption by the families is the failure to understand how they consume and why they spend that much in electricity.

Countries like England believe that, if the information of energy consumption is simplified and provided in a constant basis, the energy consumption will decrease considerably.  For this purpose, they have started implementing the Smart Meters  with the intention of installing more than 50 million devices in the United Kingdom by 2020.

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This device changes and simplifies the way we understand energy expenditure. The device allows you to see, in real time, your electricity and gas consumption, how much you are spending in that moment, and the exact accumulated amount. This is not an estimation, which is what the electricity companies charges us nowadays. This way, with the help of the estimations created by the device, you are able to know instantly if you are spending too much electricity or gas, allowing you to change your consumption patterns.

The application policy is simple. The government will install the Smart Meters for free in the home and the family will receive a tablet with the meter that will be connected with the counter. The application does not need WiFi, since it functions by radio.

Promoting public transport 

The promotion of public transport in urbanized areas has already been a fight for years. Cities around the world are fighting the use of private transportation, due to the concentration of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere and the traffic collapse that this extensive use produces.

New York is one of the cities which is stepping ahead in the promotion of public transport. The policy promoted by Bill de Blasio is focused on bus transportation. Firstly, all the buses of New York are going to be electric. The second improvement was made in 2014, when they installed a GPS device in every bus of the fleet, allowing the citizens to consult the time to arrival of the bus or its route with an app.

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None of this is new, but they went a step further with the installation of sensors in the stoplights in order to perceive the proximity of a public bus. When the stoplight sensors the arrival of the bus it will prolong or anticipate the green light. This technology will allow the buses of New York to arrive to any destination 20% faster.

Waste management

Enevo Smart Plans is a simple technology that allows waste retrieval, managing and recycling by installing a sensor in the waste and recycling containers, therefore optimizing its retrieval when the container is full and not a specific day of the week. This sensor is connected to a data base in Enevo’s  headquarters that estimates when to collect the waste residuals, creating efficient routes for the waste retrieval vehicles, optimizing fuel consumption and reducing traffic to avoid overflowing containers.

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In terms of waste recycling ,the city of Barcelona is starting a plan to recycle all the organic waste of the city and convert it into energy. The actual rate of energy transformation is  0.75 kWh per kilo, which means that per every kilo of properly managed organic waste, you could travel 5 kilometers in an electric car. The objective of this project is to recycle the 100% of the organic waste in the next 20 years, witch would mean a decrease of a 31.64%  of the carbon monoxide footprint of the city.

We see how, even if the developments aren’t high, the way we live and relate to the urban areas is changing and in a few years cities will become something completely different.

 

One comment

  1. Wow, great post. I hope the US can keep moving a “smart cities” project along, as I think it has quite a bit of potential.

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