Smart cities aren’t just a concept or a dream of the future. 

Thanks to the wildly innovative Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, many are already active and expanding rapidly. 

Municipal governments are leveraging cellular and Low Power Wide Area (LPWAN) wireless technologies to connect and improve infrastructure, efficiency, convenience, and quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

What is a smart city?

A smart city is a framework, predominantly composed of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), to develop, deploy, and promote sustainable development practices to address growing urbanization challenges. 

A big part of this ICT framework is essentially an intelligent network of connected objects and machines that transmit data using wireless technology and the cloud. 

Cloud-based IoT applications receive, analyze, and manage data in real-time to help municipalities, enterprises, and citizens make better decisions that improve quality of life.

Citizens engage with smart city ecosystems in a variety of ways using smartphones and mobile devices, as well as connected cars and homes. Pairing devices and data with a city’s physical infrastructure and services can cut costs and improve sustainability. 

Communities can improve energy distribution, streamline trash collection, decrease traffic congestion, and even improve air quality with help from the IoT. 

For instance, 

  • Connected traffic lights receive data from sensors and cars adjusting light cadence and timing to respond to real-time traffic, thereby reducing road congestion. 
  • Connected cars can communicate with parking meters and electric vehicle (EV) charging docks and direct drivers to the nearest available spot. 
  • Smart garbage cans automatically send data to waste management companies and schedule pick-up as needed versus on a pre-planned schedule. 
  • And citizens’ smartphone becomes their mobile driver’s license and ID card with digital credentials, which speeds and simplifies access to the city and local government services. 

Together, these smart city technologies are optimizing infrastructure, mobility, public services, and utilities.

What role does Geomatics play in coming up with smart cities?

 Geomatics is the science of acquiring, modeling, analyzing and representing spatially referenced data, then it includes as key disciplines Mensuration, Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Cartography and Geoinformatics.

With the help of GIS, cities have already succeeded in conversion managements to a more efficient level. Yet, there is so much remains to make full use of the potential of modern GIS.

Actual, exact and integral data are very crucial for designing, modeling and planning in Smart Cities. Geomatics always has played a significant role when it comes to reality-based data acquisition and processing. For a variety of applications in a Smart City, knowledge about the underlying terrain is crucial. Some applications, like the modeling of urban floods, require very high accuracy and resolution GIS.

The modeling of terrain has been a topic of research for many years. With the increase in datasets, the issue of computational speed for real-time applications, like in man-made and natural hazards monitoring, becomes crucial. Different forms of terrain models exist.

Why do we need smart cities?

Urbanization is a non-ending phenomenon. 

Today, 54% of people worldwide live in cities, a proportion that’s expected to reach 66% by 2050. 

Combined with the overall population growth, urbanization will add another 2.5 billion people to cities over the next three decades. Environmental, social, and economic sustainability is a must to keep pace with this rapid expansion that is taxing our cities’ resources.

193 countries have agreed upon the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in September 2015 at the United Nations. But we all know how centralized decisions and actions can take time, and the clock is ticking.

Whats the good news?

Citizens and local authorities are certainly more agile to launch swift initiatives, and smart city technology is paramount to success and meeting these goals.

Smart City Technology

What makes smart cities successful

In addition to people, dwellings, commerce, and traditional urban infrastructure, there are four essential elements necessary for thriving smart cities:

  1. Pervasive wireless connectivity
  2. Open data
  3. Security you can trust in
  4. Flexible monetization schemes

 To conclude, where does the future take us? It is easy to predict. Those cities that do not change, that do not forge ahead with the use of innovative urban planning, technological and governance models and intelligent use of resources, those that do not follow the concept of smart cities, perhaps it will be left behind, with all the negative consequences for their population. They may be lose financially, miss the best human talents and suffer economically and environmentally. Yet, in forward-looking cities, Geomatics will continue to play an important role in this scenery.

Share with us your experiences in smart cities and how you are contributing wherever you are in the world. The community is always open for discussion all times.

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