The ability to move people in a city more efficiently with fewer resources will have a huge positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions and public health, while reducing healthcare costs. The stats supporting the need for mobility solutions are impressive:
Self-driving cars, electric vehicles and smart traffic management systems can all make a difference. In this article we’ll look at some of the new developments enabling smart city infrastructure, and also provide a few real world examples of cities that are already adopting these exciting new technologies.
To improve urban air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cities must build the supporting infrastructure. One action that cities can take is to build out electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. That infrastructure can benefit not only commuters but also professional vehicles like taxis and electric ride share vehicles as well. The more charging options are available in a city, the more incentive drivers will have to turn to non-fossil fuel consuming vehicles. Meanwhile GPS-enabled systems can direct an EV owner to the closest, unoccupied station so that they don’t have to wait to charge their car.
Next generation cities can make use of smart traffic management systems to reduce gridlock. On the most basic level a smart traffic management system can identify backups and send out alerts to drivers to avoid these areas. However, this is just the beginning. With more sensors and cameras, smart traffic and AI systems can utilize adaptive control throughout city streets, and analyze data to predict what conditions are likely to lead to traffic buildup and divert drivers before gridlock forms.
Another important aspect of the smart city is creating a better experience for disabled residents, from the wheelchair bound to those with vision impairments. One critical improvement is creating a more extensive public transport network with improved services and access for those with disabilities, as well as routing notifications for the impaired.
The growth of ride sharing services demonstrates the need for solutions to address the "last mile problem" and reduce the need for every city resident to own a personal vehicle. Today the landscape is primarily dominated by services such as Uber and Lyft. As AI and other enabling technologies mature, these ride share services will likely be augmented by fleets of autonomous vehicles owned by the city, with AI-managed route planning for maximum efficiency.
Such services will become increasingly important as cities age. It’s estimated that between the years of 2035 and 2050, 1.6 billion people will be above the age of 65. This will place a large demand on mobility services in large cities, which means it is important to plan and build out infrastructure now.
Digi customer stories provide great examples of the range of smart solutions that are being developed and deployed to solve the mobility, environment and infrastructure challenges cities are facing:
The goals of mobility projects are many, as we've discussed – from reduction in congestion and carbon emissions to improved services for the disabled and cost factors. What may be surprising is that many cities that are deploying new technologies and infrastructure upgrades are finding that it can save them money.
For example, cities that are deploying high-performance cellular routers with technologies such as combined public and private data solutions, dual APN and cellular failover can replace multiple older products and expensive-to-maintain wired infrastructure. They can also improve their predictive maintenance methods, often identifying needed repairs in their systems before those systems fail and cause downtime.
See our recent article on Top 12 Smart Cities in the U.S. for some excellent examples demonstrating the breadth of smart city projects – especially our #1 pick, New York City, which deploys thousands of cellular routers on street corners across the city to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion, and improve emergency response.
Europe has many smart city projects in development as well. For example, Copenhagen has an excellent data sharing system. Smart city projects can get basic information about citizens and businesses which they can use to grow their platforms and provide better, more efficient services to city dwellers. One specific example is their Copenhagen Connecting project which uses data from cell phones and other devices to manage traffic and provide information to drivers such as parking availability.
Worldwide, cities are evaluating and deploying solutions that stand to improve mobility, air quality and the quality of life – to address concerns ranging from gridlock to climate change. Smart cities are the way of the future and at Digi we are excited to continue exploring all of the ways that we can support smart cities in leveraging the latest technologies to improve life and mobility for their residents.
Contact us to start the conversation. Digi experts can help you determin the right technologies to meet your goals, and can support design, development and deployment as a stepping stone to your city's future.