Back to Banyan Hills Insights

How IoT Will Enable the Smart Cities of the Future

Woman tracking GPS in a smart city.

IoT technology can improve the quality of life of citizens, save public money, and help governments do more with fewer resources.

July 2, 2019 - Applications for the Internet of Things are legion.

We’re surrounded by connected homes with smart lights, security, and climate controls; manufacturing floors are now packed with sensors and edge computing to streamline production processes; and sales teams now glean sophisticated customer data from beacons embedded on the retail floor.

But one of the biggest uses for IoT, if in sheer scale if not in importance, is in the future of the smart city.

A natural fit for the IoT

Cities are a natural place for the IoT to find a home.

After all, cities are massive machines that run on social, political, engineering and logistical fuel.

Cities are in a constant feedback loop, like the production process at a mind-numbingly complicated factory, performing continual self-improvement.

Cities strive to improve their own efficiency, the quality of life of citizens, and save money and resources whenever possible – or to do more with the allotted resources.

Not surprisingly, that’s where the IoT comes in.

Smart cities are engineered with the tools they need to monitor and improve their own services, like health, public safety, energy distribution and consumption, traffic management, and public works like water management.

Using date for urban planning

Urban planning – traditionally a laborious, arcane discipline that must make many assumptions based on factors like aggregate trend data and census information – can benefit greatly from IoT.

Data from multiple sources can inform city planners about actual growth data throughout the city, and apply it to solve problems related to congestion and delivering services to residents.

Smart cities will likewise need to make significant investments in smart energy.

An IoT that’s built into the city’s power grid can monitor energy production, distribution, energy leaks and waste, and monitoring key devices.

Solving for traffic problems

And then there’s traffic management – and overall citizen mobility in general.

This is one of the most vexing problems facing many metropolitan areas today, and it’s only getting worse.

But there’s hope in sight; traffic management can be enhanced through a number of tech initiatives.

Comprehensive traffic control can optimize traffic flow through data that’s collected from cars – self-driving and otherwise – along with road cameras and other sensors.

Self-driving cars, augmented by the comprehensive network of sensors throughout the city, can lead to autonomous fleets of vehicles that operate along optimal routes, reducing traffic congestion, pollution, and noise.

In this scenario, cars can be kept off the street until they’re needed and then go directly between destinations in the most efficient way.

And smart cities can finally see public transportation thrive.

No longer will riders need to wait at a bus stop and guess when the Blue Line will arrive; mass transit vehicles can report their precise locations to mobile apps, which, when combined with historical performance data, means minute-accurate scheduling transparency for all riders.

Other benefits

There are so many potential ways that technology can contribute to improving urban environments that there isn’t yet a lot of consensus on what exactly defines a smart city.

Will a smart city need a specific cocktail of sensors, data, and analytics to qualify?

It’s still early days, and few people agree on these kinds of rules.

Even so, a growing list of cities are implementing some version of an IoT to benefit from some smart city attributes.

Locations as diverse as Singapore, Dubai, Barcelona, and New York have all taken some tentative steps in this direction.

And one city – Managua, in Nicaragua – has recently started tracking the nearby Masaya volcano, which could threaten residents with an eruption.

There’s no doubt that the IoT will play a huge role in securing the safety and security of city residents in the smart cities of the future.

Resources For Learning About the Internet of Things

Stay up-to-date in this fast moving industry

Machine learning robot hand
Machine Learning: Why Your Enterprise Should Care

Machine learning is having a heyday right now, acting as a fundamental part of many products and services that define 21st century life ranging from the audacious to the mundane.

Read more
Woman tracking GPS in a smart city.
How IoT Will Enable the Smart Cities of the Future

IoT technology can improve the quality of life of citizens, save public money, and help governments do more with fewer resources.

Read more
How Small Businesses Can Benefit from IoT Technology

There’s a myth that big technology initiatives need to be championed by big enterprises. Don’t buy into that narrative.

Read more
How RFID is Making the IoT More Agile and Aware

RFID – short for Radio Frequency Identification – is a technology that allows information that’s been encoded in small, often completely unpowered tags to be read by scanning devices using radio waves.

Read more
How Does Blockchain Fit into the IoT?

You might know blockchain from its (much maligned) association with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and various ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings). But blockchain is really much more than that.

Read more
What is IoT Device Management?

Whether they’re moving past data warehouses to building data lakes, adding edge computing to their existing cloud computing architecture, or just asking your more detailed data to help create more targeted, customer-centric ad campaigns, the IoT is disruption-in-a-box.

Read more

Awards and Recognition

A few of the places where Banyan has received recognition

Inc. 500 logo
IoT Innovations logo
Industry Today logo
Business Radio X logo
RFID Journal logo
VxChange logo