When we think of smart cities, we tend to think in futuristic terms. We often use the language and iconography of futurism to express our visions of what a smart city should look like. But we should also look to the past for lessons and examples of how previous generations handled the challenges of planning and developing urban spaces.
Urban innovators with smart city aspirations rely on university knowledge and resources when addressing complex issues. Through access to research and thought leadership on urban challenges, smart cities benefit from partnerships with universities.
Urban mobility is described as the lifeblood of modern cities, a critical economic factor, and a facilitator of smart, sustainable development. Planning a smart city that delivers effective and equitable urban mobility solutions is one of the most pressing problems for cities throughout the world. In this article — the first in a planned series — we provide a perspective on urban mobility challenges and examples of smart city solutions.
At Smart City Expo World Congress, Barcelona City Council and the City of New York have issued a call for innovative technologies and tools to help make housing more affordable. This call now draws to an end: the extended deadline for submitting proposals is February 10, 2019. Take the last chance to apply!
Why an affordable housing challenge?
In cities around the world, affordable housing represents one of the biggest challenges that undermines social inclusion, equality, health and well-being, as well as sustainability.
From BIM to CIM: Why Building and City Information Modelling are Essential to the Development of Smart Cities
Cities are both a key enabler of productivity and economic development, and essential to the social and political wellbeing of individuals and society, as the place that most people now call ‘home’.
However, there are many problems in cities that are inhibiting economic growth and social and environmental justice and equality. Traffic congestion is a huge problem worldwide and costs national economies billions of pounds each year. In the UK alone, traffic cost the economy £31bn in 2016. Poor housing conditions, leading to greater need for healthcare services, also put a huge strain not only on people’s lives but also on local and national healthcare systems. Growing populations and changing demographics - for example, an increasingly youthful population in many African cities, and an increasingly ageing population in much of Europe - is already beginning to put a lot of strain on public services and the built environment. The global housing crisis is just one expression of this.
The smart city concept is one reaction to the growing challenges that urban centers face - from environmental degradation, to increasing economic inequalities, to growing populations that overstrain and exhaust social and physical infrastructure - as it aims to improve the operational, service and energy efficiency of cities and render them better places to live for all.
Earlier this year, bee smart city partner Leading Cities, a global network for Smart City growth and collaboration, has launched a global Smart City startup accelerator program that provides potential capital from a network of investors as well as the tools and knowledge of how to do business with cities. In this year’s edition 27 semi-finalists have been selected from more than 550 applications from over 40 countries. From this global pack of urban innovators, three startups emerged as AcceliCITY winners - one for each track of the AcceliCITY program (clean energy, city visualization and general tracks).
The world of urban mobility is changing fast, and cities are grappling with the impact on safety. Growth in urban populations, combined with more cars, trucks and public transport vehicles (e.g. increasing last mile delivery) sharing crowded streets with vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists), makes the task of providing safe mobility a complex challenge. The task is further complicated by unsafe driving behavior, demand for multimode transport options, the need for bicycle-friendly streets and the uncertain future of autonomous vehicles.
Road fatalities are increasing in many cities and comprised 37 percent of European road fatalities in 2017. Taking steps to improve the safety of urban mobility fosters quality of life and yields opportunities to deliver transport sustainability. This article provides a perspective on policies and innovation regarding urban mobility safety solutions for smart cities.
Smart city strategy, now moving into its ‘fourth generation’, is today increasingly focused on collaboratively determining community’s needs before implementing infrastructural and/or technological changes. With community empowerment at the forefront of smart city development, what ‘smartness’ means when it comes to building must be defined with (rather than for) the community in order to produce buildings that genuinely enable a higher quality of life and engender more sustainable lifestyles.
The smart city is also as much centered around stimulating cooperation as sustainability: this means capitalizing on the most innovative ‘smart’ technologies and processes to ensure that new infrastructure is built not only in the most collaborative, but also the most resource-efficient way too.
A recurring theme in architecture and construction engineering is that of "sick buildings". In our eagerness to control all the parameters and internal and external conditions of our constructions, humanity has tended, increasingly, to make hermetic buildings, replete with electrical and electronic installations that give off electromagnetic waves and ions. Especially in offices we often find ourselves with spaces that are too cold and with a highly charged environment.
Here we will address how to alleviate the excess of electromagnetic charge and the lack of humidity in an environment, with the installation of Canadian or Provencal Wells, for the promotion of sustainable architecture.
Innovation in last mile freight and parcel delivery solutions could yield significant benefits for cities by reducing traffic congestion in urban centers, improving public health by lessening greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and contributing to the success of sustainable urban economies.
What is Last Mile Delivery?
From a manufacturer's plant or warehouse or a supplier or retailer location, the last mile of delivery is the final stage in the shipping process, culminating with arrival of a package or goods at a customer's destination.
Last-mile delivery and associated services are provided by established freight transport companies, courier firms, independent drivers and couriers, click-and-collect retailers, self-service parcel lockers, and postal service destination hubs. Delivery vehicles in the last mile include diesel and gas-powered trucks and vans, electric trucks, pushcarts, pedal carts, bicycles and robotic vehicles (in pilot projects). Due to the steady growth of e-commerce, the number of delivery vehicles and the volume of deliveries and locations have dramatically increased. In addition, the market for urban delivery services is undergoing an evolution with independent drivers and new entrants competing with traditional courier firms.
Boston-based Leading Cities has announced AcceliCITY, a global competition providing Smart City startups with access to international clients, capital from a global network of Smart City educated investors, and tools and knowledge in doing business with cities. The program bridges the gap between startups, cities, and businesses by providing select startups with access to Leading Cities’ proven track record of successful policy implementation, Smart City tools, and broad global network. bee smart city partners with AcceliCITY and Leading Cities to leverage its expertise and network to support Smart City startups.
Leading Cities and several partnering organizations - among them bee smart city - empower the AcceliCITY program to lower the cost of innovation for startups, cities, and corporations by streamlining the innovation and sales cycles for Smart City solutions. All partners provide access to an international network of mentors, investors, and decision-makers in city governments.
The international conference “Earth Observation & Copernicus Technologies and Solutions for User Applications“ will take place on April 19, 2018 in Bochum, Germany. You are cordially invited to take part. It will be held at the premises of the University of Applied Sciences Georg Agricola. The event is free of charge.
The conference will enable knowledge transfer between technology experts, service providers and manufacturers as well as users from selected application fields. In thematic workshops participants can exchange ideas on technology trends and project ideas, identify market demands and raise awareness towards the importance of Earth Observation and Copernicus technologies and their potential.
Open data could help to accelerate the development of smart cities by connecting the people most capable of creating smart city solutions with the data needed to generate and support them.
What is Open Data?
An overwhelming amount of data is being generated by both public and private concerns on an ongoing basis. This data is stored beyond the reach of most people, secured in government or proprietary databases or on individual electronic devices. The types and the depth of this data is growing as new and increasingly technological solutions are implemented to solve the problems of the governments, businesses, and private citizens of smart cities.
The potential advantages of data collection on such a scale are beyond question. Data collection is the most laborious part of any investigation, and yet the majority of global data is going largely unseen and unused. Limiting the number of people who can access it necessarily limits the number of problems to which it can be applied and, in most cases, prevents access to the people best able to apply it.
The solution to this is to make the data publicly available via an open government approach: open data.
On the 1st of November, Sigfox's exclusive network operator Thinxtra showcased the start of its territory-wide low-power wide-area (LPWA) IoT network in Hong Kong, providing cost-effective IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity for the city.
Cost-Effective LPWA Network provides IoT Connectivity
Until March 2018, 100 Sigfox base stations are expected to be installed throughout Hong Kong to provide long-range, low-bandwidth, low-power connectivity for businesses, research institutions, and government organizations to seize opportunities of the rise of IoT.
The evolution of smart cities has shifted from technology-centered approaches via government-led strategies to a human-centric focus. We have discussed this recently in our article Towards a new paradigm of the smart city.
Considering the benefits of a human-centric approach, the question is how a city can tap into the collective intelligence of citizens, entrepreneurs, businesses or other organizations to accelerate the development of a more livable and prosperous city. Collective intelligence can be considered as a key success factor for a smart city (see A review of becoming a smart city).
The role of smart lighting solutions in the intelligent transformation of cities and buildings has gained momentum in the past years. This development will continue in the coming years based on increased connectivity and industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions becoming a key element in most smart city strategies around the globe.
The opportunities that cities can seize with the installation of smart lighting solutions go far beyond value creation through energy (cost) and maintenance savings (which are huge considering that as much as 40 percent of a city’s energy budget is consumed by street lighting and new efficient lighting can save up to 50% of these costs as a result of increased energy efficiency) or the improvement of the environmental impact.
A growing number of cities around the globe are testing smart waste management solutions to create higher efficiency in terms of resources and costs associated with keeping their cities clean.
While equipping the bins of private households with latest sensor technology is tested only by a few cities (like Santander in Spain or Montreal in Canada), several cities start in public spaces with implementing smart waste management solutions.
The installation of smart solar-powered compacting bins can be observed in a growing number of cities (Amsterdam, Atlanta, London, Melbourne, Philadelphia, and others).
Self-powered smart urban street furniture can help cities and communities to increase the attractivity of public spaces by providing public services, information, and connectivity, while at the same time enabling the collection of valuable data for optimizing processes and reducing costs.
Cities are increasingly adopting smart street furniture solutions
Whether we talk about digital signs, smart benches or even fully-integrated smart bus stops – there are a lot of new products available in terms of smart urban street furniture. A growing number of cities and communities throughout the world are adopting these self-powered products to make life easier for citizens and visitors and to optimize the management of public infrastructure or to provide connectivity such as free WiFi.