Many people continue moving to urban centers for all kinds of different reasons. The logic and reasoning may include looking for employment, seeking a change in lifestyle and a variety of reasons that couldn’t possibly be listed, let alone guessed.

As migration from rural to urban areas increases, cities must become efficient if they want to support the increasing populations. As such, we all become smarter with the Internet of Things (IoT) and so do cities. Smart cities will become a norm in major metropolitan areas in the world; it’s all about connectivity which will ultimately change our communities.

So, what’s a smart city?

Well, smart cities use IoT (Internet of Things) devices like connected lights, meters and sensors to collect and analyze data. The cities make use of this data to improve public utilities, infrastructures and improve quality of life for their residents.

Governmental agencies should consider adopting a smart city concept in their urban areas. Implementing big data applications in support of smart city components allows IoT to reach optimum sustainable levels.

Smart cities make use of different technologies to raise performance. Greater achievements in health, energy, sanitation, education and transport performance change and are enhanced to improve comfort levels for their citizens.

One of the common technologies with a potential to improve smart city services is the big data analytics. As time goes by, digitization becomes an essential aspect of everyday life. Data collection results in an accumulation of huge data amounts and the diverse data can be used in each of the differing city application domains listed above. Effective analysis and utilization of the big data is essential for the success of the smart city domain in influencing all sectors of business under city jurisdiction.

Consider examples of big data applications that serve smart cities. They include the following:

Smart Infrastructure and Architecture

Construction engineers and managers are looking for ways to incorporate IoT solutions into their architectural designs. In this way, they’ll be able to reduce the project costs and increase the quality of the infrastructure.

For instance, a recent study in the United States intimate that at least 60 percent of building managers are conversant with IoT technology. In fact, 43 percent believe that IoT will be shaping how they construct and operate their buildings in the next few years.

One area with massive potential for growth is in lighting. Building managers are more likely to change from conventional lighting methods to LED bulbs in the attempt to save on energy and money.

Elevators are another area that needs greater efficiency. A research by IBM shows that people waited for 22.5 years for lifts during their lifetime. As a result, the elevator market is likely to grow to about $23B in by next year (2020).

The biggest application of IoT in architecture and infrastructure is the use of smart grids. These grids can help considerably to conserve resources. The European commission expects 72 percent of all consumers in EU will have smart electricity meters in their homes by the end of 2020. At least 40 percent will be having a smart gas meter in the same year.

Amsterdam, for instance, has been offering solar panels and energy storage units for households connected to City’s smart grid. With these batteries (holding panels), home owners can relieve stress on the grid at peak hours by storing energy and using from the storage at peak usage times.

Smart Education

Education is the backbone of every society. Information and communication technology helps enhance the educational efficiency, effectiveness and productivity using smart educational services. These services are intelligent and flexible and offer maximum use of information — enhancing control and assessment.

Using smart education applications helps engage people in active learning environment. All these allow learners to adapt to rapid changes in the environment and society. In addition, relying on big data that has been collected and processed in the field will help to generate required information. All these have a positive effect on teaching/learning tools to acquire and deliver knowledge.

Technology can avail opportunities everywhere including rural and remote areas especially where commuting to learning institutions may be impossible. At times, the economic status of people in some areas doesn’t allow them to afford other expensive education models.

Using big data and ICT technology will create a knowledge based economy. All these help enhance the nation’s capacity and competitiveness. Educational big data, is generated by collecting data from people. The data is collected from students, teachers, parents, administrators, infrastructure, and economic surveys.

The data can help deduce useful trends and reports and uses them to create models that facilitate a better and increasingly enhanced education. It has been useful in identifying and observing educational shortages to enhance learning curriculums.

Smart Traffic Lights

A major aspect of smart cities is how well they control their traffic flow within the town. All these additional enhancements of the transportation systems improves the overall traffic pattern flow within the city. With an increase in population, pollution, and traffic — economic problems are likely to happen. Due to economics most smart cities makes use of smart traffic signs and signals to deal with huge traffic and congestions. This control in turn cuts down on the pollution involved in sitting at signal lights for a length of time. All timing in traffic can improve with smart traffic lights.

For efficient results, smart traffic lights and their signals need to be interconnected across the entire traffic grid. This connectivity helps to offer more insights and information about traffic lights and patterns. Each of these sensors detect a varied parameter of traffic flow. Such information includes the number of cars, their speed, and waiting time at the lights as well as any traffic jams. The systems will then make decisions depending on the respective values of each parameter.

The higher the availability of data, the more informed the decisions of the smart city capabilities. In order for the smart traffic system to work to greatest efficiency, it needs to collect data from all traffic lights in the city. The smart city information will then be able to make an intelligent decision that depends on this changing data. Traffic patterns, as well as all other data in a city are forever changing — some times the changes are minute by minute and can be taken into consideration an acted upon by smart city automation.

Conclusion

The potential for smart cities is limitless. Further, the growth of these cities will only accelerate in the coming years.

When evaluating smart city applications based on big data, its important to address special requirements that address the special nature of smart cities. For instance, data capturing and collection from users, sensors, and electronic data readers may pose a challenge as data volume grows.

Storing, processing and organizing this data is crucial in generating useful results for the coming issues on this topic. Essentially, for any system to work, its important to select a number of developmental designs and priorities in a planned manner. In this way, you’ll be able to generate more interconnections and intelligence to keep your smart city running smoothly and with the best results for your community.