Smart Cities are a journey, so it’s hard to find two municipalities that made the same investments, for the same projects, at the same time. When a City heads for smartness, it usually takes a step-by-step approach: even when it is possible to draft a comprehensive plan to redesign assets on the entire urban territory or selected districts, smart projects need to be gradually implemented in most cases, balancing local needs and available resources.
In our experience, street lighting and mobility systems are the first public services to come under scrutiny. According to the Smart City Use Cases & Technology Adoption Report 2020 by market insights firm IoT Analytics, based on a survey of 50 decision-makers from cities all over the world, connected public transport and connected streetlights have a 74% and 68% implementation rate respectively. The research also states that 72% of Cities have IoT-based solutions in place for traffic monitoring and management, water level and flood monitoring, and video surveillance.
This shouldn’t be too surprising. Smart Cities tend to prioritize investments that bring the most value both for citizens and the community.
Street lighting accounts on average for 40% of a City’s electricity bill, so it’s critical to save money while increasing energy efficiency and sustainability KPIs. It also has a direct impact on livability and public safety, since the level of brightness and the color temperature of light strongly influence the sensing of buildings, monuments and districts, as well as the perception of individual and collective safety. City managers are therefore asked to find the smartest possible balance between the need to save energy, emissions and money, and that to safeguard quality of life, while keeping the City attractive to visitors and businesses.
Smart transportation systems and parking management bring incredible value to residents and the many people who commute in urban areas daily. Integrated IoT solutions contribute to reduce congestion, accidents and air pollution, and to improve the overall urban mobility experience.
But technology changes so quickly that it would be counter-productive and extremely expensive to have separate solutions to manage each public service. How can a community design its Smart City journey without being locked into short-sighted decisions and investments? Simply, let data be at the center of urban policies.
“Data has become our most prized asset, driving infrastructure like telecoms, power, water, transportation and digital public services”, writes KPMG expert Richard Threlfall on WEForum.org. “The more governments foster data sharing and interoperability, the more they’ll help spread ideas and stimulate innovation. They should prioritize the collection, processing and accessibility of public and private data – and focus on data quality and accuracy”.