Smart Cities: Improving the Lives of Citizens with the Internet of Things

Oct 25, 2016
Mimi Spier

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Mimi Spier is senior director of business development, marketing and go-to-market strategy for the Internet of Things (IoT) at VMware.

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“Your Tax Dollars at Work!” Nothing is more annoying to me than seeing this sign on the side of a busy highway because inevitably what follows next is a colossal traffic jam. It feels like a bad joke suggesting that not only have we taken a piece of your hard-earned money, in return we are giving you a major inconvenience, while promoting it as a positive thing.

Getting off my soapbox for a second, I realize that the trend toward increasing urbanization and constant migration is putting our existing city infrastructure under a lot of pressure. As of 2014, 54% of the world’s population lives in cities—it’s expected to reach 66% by 2050. While I understand that constructions are necessary and traffic jams are inevitable, I also think that there may be smarter ways to spend our tax dollars to improve the lives of the citizens.

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3 IoT Applications for Smart Cities

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), the physical and the digital worlds are connecting in ways few of us ever imagined even a few years back. Many governments are starting to take advantage of IoT technology to create better cities and partnering with organizations, like VMware, to solve some of these tough problems. These “Smart Cities” will use digital technologies to enhance quality of life in urban areas. Let’s look at a few scenarios where IoT-based use cases could add value for governments and citizens.

1. Smart Traffic Models

As the population increases in cities and the number of vehicles grows, traffic is only going to get worse. One of the best ways to reduce traffic jams is to collect, store and analyze data in real time from road and video sensors, GPS on vehicles, taxi credit card readers, Wi-Fi networks and CCTV to have a better understanding of traffic flows. By combining this data with construction and road closures, the city government could construct traffic models and get real-time insights about traffic performance, conditions and incidents to help optimize the flow of traffic.

2. Smart Parking Solutions

Another side effect of increasing migration to the cities is the difficulty we face in finding a parking spot, which also leads to traffic congestion. It is estimated that about 30% of the cars circling a city at any given time are doing so as drivers look for parking. If we could reduce the time it takes drivers to find a parking spot by even a small amount, the difference in our carbon footprint could be significant. All this can be managed better with an IoT-enabled smart parking application. Parking occupancy sensors could easily communicate with a gateway where data could be analyzed in real time and then sent to an app on your smartphone indicating the number of available spots and the best way to get there. Apart from letting citizens find a parking spot quickly and easily, this technology also reduces traffic congestion and emissions and helps increase city revenue.

3. Smart Waste Management

Have you ever gotten stuck behind a garbage truck? It absolutely stinks, both literally and metaphorically. As many cities are launching their smart waste management projects driven by the IoT technology, very soon this could be a thing of the past. Smart solar-powered garbage containers are equipped with sensors that detect when the bin is full or too smelly. So trash collectors could be automatically notified and make a pickup where they’re needed most. By coordinating pickup based on traffic volume, it can deliver significant value to the consumer, business and environment.

VMware IoT Solutions for Smart Cities

Though it may seem easy on paper, pulling together multiple data sources—sensors, devices, gateways, applications, telematics and social media—to create a targeted solution which improves the quality of life for citizens is extremely difficult in reality. Smart city officials realize the importance of developing the right strategy, choosing the right use cases and partnering with the right vendor.

As a recognized leader in IT efficiency, VMware is focused on delivering customer success in IoT by bridging the gap between the OT and IT worlds and extending their expertise in the data center and device management out to the edge where IoT resides. While organizations prepare for the tidal wave of promising industry-specific IoT use cases, VMware is making sure that IT is prepared and ready to better serve its stakeholders.

For smart cities, VMware’s IoT solutions can effectively address urban challenges by empowering city officials to collect better information and offer services based on real-time and situation-specific conditions which deliver social, environmental and economic outcomes. Check out more augmented reality videos below to learn what’s possible, and learn more about VMware IoT by visiting us at www.vmware.com/solutions/iot.

While these are just a few examples, I would like to hear from you on how IoT is transforming a city near you to improve the lives of the citizens. Leave a comment below.

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