How Big Data And IoT Create Smarter Cities

The idea is to embed the advances in technology and data collection which are making the Internet of Things a reality into the infrastructures of the environments where we live. Already, large companies such as Cisco and IBM IBM -0.42% are working with universities and civic planning authorities to develop data-driven systems for transport, waste management, law enforcement, and energy use to make them more efficient and improve the lives of citizens.

We will interact and get information from these smart systems using our smart phones, watches and other wearables, and crucially, the machines will also speak to each other. Garbage trucks will be alerted to the location of refuse that needs collecting, and sensors in our cars will direct us towards available parking spaces.

The model most commonly adopted so far is to attract businesses which develop software and hardware applications for the Internet of Things, and encourage them to put their ingenuity to use to smarten the surrounding areas. Public money is often put up as an incentive to do so – an example is Glasgow, Scotland, the government has offered £24 million ($37 million) for technology which will make the city “smarter, safer and more sustainable”.

Applications developed or planned for the program include intelligent street lighting which will switch itself off to conserve energy when there’s no one around, mapping energy use around the city to better understand demand, and mapping how people get around to maximize the use of bicycle and foot paths.