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How The Government Can Use IoT to Drive Smart City Development

How The Government Can Use IoT to Drive Smart City Development

Public Sector

May 11, 2022


A smart city employs information and communication technology (ICT) to boost operational efficiency, make info accessible to the public, and improve public services and citizen welfare. Its purpose is to use smart technologies and data analysis to optimize city activities and boost economic growth while increasing the general quality of life.

Smart cities employ a range of software, user interfaces, communication networks, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Amongst these, IoT is the most important since it is a network of linked gadgets that interact and share data. Vehicles, smart household appliances, and on-street sensors are all examples of IoT. Data acquired from these devices is uploaded to the cloud, allowing for advancements in both public and private sector services.

The Indian Government aims to develop connected smart cities through IoT (Internet-of-Things) technologies and solutions to provide core infrastructure, a clean and sustainable environment, and a better quality of life to its citizens through initiatives such as Smart Cities Mission and Digital India.

The Indian Government started laying the groundwork for its vision in 2015 with an Internet of Things Policy Framework to create an IoT industry worth $15 Billion. Its approach to building smart cities combined government projects and Private-Public-Partnerships (PPP). The IoT industry alone is expected to reach a potential economic value of $4-11 Trillion globally by 2025.

IoT Mobile Connections Worldwide, 2020 & 2025


IoT Solutions would have to be made in India, focusing on tackling India-specific issues, requiring investment to create a suitable ecosystem where skill development, capacity-building, network and domain-specific standards, and R&D activities could be carried out.

With an initial target of 100 cities, the Smart Cities Mission has accelerated the adoption of smart city solutions across India, including large volumes of sensor-based infrastructure, citizen-centric solutions and big data generation. Local bodies are using IoT solutions in line with their smart city initiatives to enable their strategies and meet their communal challenges.

IoT solutions now have a huge demand and marketplace among urban planners as leaps in technology and digitization have led to an integrated approach for smart urban ecosystems. The pursuit of IoT-based smart infrastructure is necessary to make cities more livable and improve their resilience in a resource-constrained country like India.

A huge level of complexity comes with adopting IoT solutions as smart cities generate vast quantities of data from various sensors, cameras and other IoT devices that must be stored, processed, and analyzed. Added to that, IoT security is also a major concern. City administrators can apply machine learning to the different datasets to cross-analyze them to derive new solutions to problems through automation and improvements in efficiency. The insights gained on urban usage can inspire future solutions and strategies.

IoT, however, is not a standalone technology domain. Many other domains such as Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML), predictive analytics, edge computingcyber security, mobile internet, and digital literacy form the interconnected framework of domains that drive IoT adoption in smart cities. IoT platforms make it possible to deliver IoT applications and management in less time and facilitate the features necessary to onboard devices and provide secure connections where data exchanges can occur.

How IoT Can Be Implemented in a Smart City

The idea of a Smart City network is that the inputs received from various sensors, cameras, and devices can be combined to create new solutions to existing problems. Hence the application of IoT can drive smart city goals such as:

  • Cleaner Environment: Use of renewable energy, smart buildings that actively monitor energy usage, green urban planning.
  • Sustainable Economic Growth: Increasing productivity of local businesses, driving innovation that leads to entrepreneurship, and achieving global connectivity.
  • Smart Mobility Solutions: Alternative modes of transport, ride-sharing economy, low carbon emissions.

Given below are some of the objectives a smart city aims to tackle, and how IoT can be applied in the real world to achieve them:

Smart City Objectives Real-World Use Cases of IoT
Efficient management of cities lighting systems Smart street lighting adapts its intensity to match the conditions of the day (morning/evening/etc) or sudden change in weather conditions
Improving traffic flow Automated traffic management systems redirect traffic to manage congestions, inform authorities of accidents, capture license plates of offenders
Better road safety and public transport Making autonomous vehicles possible in the future, including automated public transport
Better allocation of city utilities Energy resource meters (water, gas, electricity) send consumption data to the relevant service providers automatically
Reduction in resource use and improvement in the environment As resource use is optimized and processes are automated, it leads to a smaller carbon footprint and hence better environmental conditions in the city
Centralized monitoring of city operations Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) are the brains of the smart cities where all inputs are processed and analyzed
Aggregated data on various aspects of cities’ functions Data generated from different IoT sensors, devices, and cameras can be combined to use in new applications. Data can be open to the public to enable innovation
Waste collection and disposal Smart garbage bins can notify fill levels to help waste collection authorities optimize garbage collection routes
General increase in standard of living Informed and digitally literate citizens who can use eGovernance services for all their needs, instead of relying on government officials

Interesting Ways IoT is Used by Other Governments

Governments worldwide are investing in smart cities to leverage ICT and eGovernance to enable supply demand-side policy, improve the transparency of processes, and open data up to its citizens.

Singapore is frequently at the top of most smart city rankings. They launched a digital health system, which normalized video consultations and wearable IoT devices to monitor patients. This helped alleviate the pressures of an aging population. Furthermore, Singapore unveiled plans for a new eco-smart metropolis that would be vehicle-free by 2021. The projected forest city will be located in Tengah, in Singapore’s western area, and will have five residential districts with 42,000 dwellings and pedestrian and bike safe zones.

Helsinki is well on its way to achieving its established carbon neutrality target by 2035. Another objective Helsinki is pursuing is a 70% reduction in transportation emissions by 2035, which will be achieved through electrifying the whole municipal bus fleet and expanding its Metro and electric car charging networks. As heating accounts for more than half of Helsinki’s emissions, the city is concentrating on implementing energy-saving solutions during restorations, which could lower building emissions by 80%.

Amsterdam began its smart city project in 2009 and now includes over 170 separate operations spread around the city. Amsterdam’s ability to be innovative stands out, whether it’s using renewable energy for electric garbage trucks, adding solar-powered bus stops, billboards, and lights, or building floating cities to alleviate overcrowding and provide an alternative to land reclamation. Thousands of businesses and homes in the city have already been outfitted with energy-efficient roofing insulation, auto-dimming light switches, smart meters, and ultra-low-energy LED lighting.

Seoul’s smart technology campaigns have only gotten stronger since commencing their activities in 2014. Songdo, also known as the world’s first smart city, is located in the city. As monitored by sensors and CCTV installed across the city, the collection and analysis of urban patterns such as traffic flow, speed, and air quality provide a solid foundation for smart infrastructure and services.

A safety effort for senior citizens who live alone was started, focusing technology on the city’s aging population. If no movement is detected for a time, or if environmental sensors detect abnormal temperature, humidity, or illumination, relevant caseworkers and emergency services will be called promptly.

The Future of Smart Cities and IoT

As IoT networks expand, the amount of data generated will increase exponentially, giving deeper insights into the efficiency, challenges, productivity, and opportunities in the urban environment. With this, there will also be challenges in handling the increasing amounts of data, which will lead to more investment in data infrastructure, big data implementations, and machine learning.

The 5th generation (5G) of networking and mobile communications will be an accelerator for IoT, as low latencies and improved speed will enable more real-time processing and allow larger amounts of data to be exchanged.

The Indian Government recently announced a massive expansion of its Smart Cities Mission, targeting an ambitious goal of modernizing 4000 cities (as opposed to its initial goal of 109 cities) in the next two years. Focus areas include the Internet of Things, Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs), mobile technologies like GPS, smart cameras for security and surveillance, smart meters, drones, and mobile applications for telemedicine and digital platforms.

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