10 Smart Cities

The smart city movement is growing exponentially. Everyday, cities are continuing to find new ways to innovate so that ultimately their citizens can have a safer, eco-friendly environment to live in. Often this involves utilizing data collected by sensors to improve their conversion to a smart city. Yet while there are many tools that represent data associated with humans, data of the physical world represents the next frontier. Terbine is the world’s largest system of IoT data generated by public infrastructure. This massive trove is made available to companies, research institutions and government agencies to help progress smart city initiatives. Check out how these ten cities are using machine-generated data to get ahead.

When the U.S. Department of Transportation held its Smart City Challenge in 2016, Columbus won the primary award. Using the funds, the city began research into how to best implement transportation initiatives. Correlating data such as Vehicle Counts and carbon monoxide readings, the city plans to roll out innovative smart city projects. One of these is an all-in-one mobile app for its public transportation system, to help make riding more efficient and easier for the public. Columbus has also moved forward with the development of a connected vehicle environment that is designed to prevent car collisions, and analyze traffic patterns to further implement traffic safety measures. The city aims to not only improve transportation using data, but eventually improve their citizens’ overall quality of living and help the environment by cutting down on emissions.

As the second largest city in the U.S, Los Angeles sees the need for utilizing technology to enhance its operational efficiency and quality of life for its vast population. It is planning to roll out a system that connects cars with parking meters, street lights, and more, to improve traffic routing and safety. It’s no secret that LA traffic is heavy throughout, with resulting air quality issues. Data such as Ozone readings provided by the South Coast Air Quality Management District provides the information needed to develop workable solutions. The city has unveiled a “Green New Deal” that is aimed at creating a cleaner environment and reducing climate change. The plan states that by 2025 the city should be at 55% renewable energy, and 100% by 2045. There are also plans to boost the percentage of zero-emissions vehicles on its streets to 25% by 2025 and 100% by 2050, including full conversion of the city-owned fleet to electric by 2028. With these and other measures being implemented now, the city’s ideas are definitely revolutionary.

Fueled by the highly successful South by Southwest event being hosted there, more tech oriented companies have been eyeing Austin as a hotspot for jumpstarting smart city initiatives. One of the biggest such projects is the Integrated Smart Grid, which encompasses 437 square miles of service area and 11,651 miles of electrical transmission and distribution lines. Smart grids are crucial to the development of smart cities, by helping to cut back on energy usage and improve efficiency. Austin also plans on using data, like Average Vehicle Speed readings collected the city to help make their transportation environment more economical. Austin was the testing site for Google’s first self-driving prototype, the Firefly. Now Ford has announced that they are bringing more autonomous vehicles to Austin, for testing and to further promote safer mobility for its citizens. Austin is also using flood level and weather data to help residents and emergency services when needed.

The Big Apple is, not surprisingly, putting forth a tremendous effort to transition into a smart city. One of their initiatives focuses on smart lighting and how to save energy. In 2013, New York launched the Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency program, which has led to well over 900 metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions and saved $800,000 per year in electricity bills. The city also uses data from air quality surveys, such as Carbon Monoxide readings produced by the Environmental Protection Agency, to determine how they can reduce pollution. One example of their success was the determination that low-cost heating oil was producing more air pollution than all of the vehicles in the city combined. Now the use of such fuel oils has been banned and initiatives to switch to natural gas have been implemented by the city. Another really cool smart city effort is the BigBelly smart trash can. New York City’s population generates a large amount of waste, and has the biggest sanitation department in the world. The BigBelly smart trash can has sensors that monitor trash levels, which then determines when pickups are required. The can also has a built in solar-powered trash compactor, allowing the bin to hold more trash between pickups. Trash collection efficiency has improved 50-80% since the BigBelly trash cans were introduced.

Most famous for hospitality and gambling, Las Vegas is now becoming a hub for smart city technology. Downtown Las Vegas is currently being transformed into the Innovation District, with a variety of tech companies are applying data to help turn Las Vegas into a truly smart city. Sensors mounted on and within traffic lights have been installed in order to record and use data to help improve public safety and reform traffic control, which is critical considering the many visitors the city gets. Another initiative that’s turning Sin City into Smart City, is the broad testing of autonomous vehicles. Aptiv and Lyft joined forces to bring self-driving vehicles to the downtown district, with hopes of advancing the push to autonomous travel. Sensors mounted at intersections such as this continuous feed of Vehicle Counts from the City of Las Vegas, Nevada are used to analyze traffic patterns. Las Vegas has already used this data in order to push its infrastructure towards safer, greener initiatives, such as adding more HOV lanes on their freeway systems.

Deep in the heart of the south, Atlanta into the smart city fray as well. SmartATL is the city’s mission plan that began with the establishment of a “smart district”. Through  sensors that collect environmental data, such as Water Levels collected by the United States Geological Survey, they plan on finding new ways to become more eco-friendly. A part of their initiative is the installation of sensor-laden LED street lights, plus collecting data on vehicle movements throughout the metropolitan area. It has been announced that autonomous vehicle testing is also coming to Atlanta, opening up numerous doors for transportation to be made more efficient and safer. Atlanta is still working on implementing these initiatives, but it’s fast-becoming one of the most ambitious smart cities in the country.

Believe it or not, Boston is considered to be the most energy efficient city in the United States. Much of their success is thanks to the launch of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Starting in 2014, the city began to analyze data that would ultimately help them to attain their energy efficiency title. Boston also stays ahead of the game with “Smart Streets” which employs cameras and sensors to capture and record data (such as Vehicle Counts from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation). This is applied to help improve road safety. In order to promote healthy mobility options while cutting back on emissions from car travel, Boston launched Hubway, a bike sharing system. The city is also currently supporting autonomous vehicle testing in the hopes of having it become a part of urban planning. Another big way Boston is working to be a leader in the smart city revolution is CityScore, essentially a scoreboard of data collected from infrastructure and made available to the public. It provides the information needed to monitor the city’s overall “health” and guide decision makers regarding municipal improvements.  

The third largest American city, Chicago is using data to strengthen its infrastructure, improve services, and help residents get connected to what is going on. Chicago is installing advanced sensors embedded throughout its neighborhoods that capture information regarding water, energy, air quality and the movement of people. Among the applications for the data are determining which areas require more efficient use of electricity, replacement or elimination of wasteful systems, and improvements to local environments. This can involve developing new procedures to help clean up lake pollution and trash, retrofitting street lights with LED bulbs, employing solar panels to run low-power devices, and others. Finally, Chicago wants residents to be aware of the state of the city. This can include data coming from wide ranging sources such as Air Visibility sourced from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In a more sophisticated application, Snow Equivalent data is utilized to determine when and where spring flooding may occur, to help residents and the city to plan relief programs for affected areas.

Home of Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks, the innovative city of Seattle has a lot more to offer than coffee and cool vegan restaurants. The city plans to ramp up the technology on their streets in order to completely change the transportation scene. Seattle has teamed up with German tech giant Siemens to with a system called Concert. The system utilizes data to time signals and help better control traffic flows. The idea is to make vehicles in the congested downtown area flow easier and help cut back on emissions. Another way Seattle has turned “smart” is through an initiative that intends to bring more electric vehicles onto its roads, bring more charging stations to city parking lots and more. Data sources such as Vehicle Speed, courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation, are applied to continually improve traffic efficiency. Seattle also plans to cut their carbon emissions down significantly in the next few years, and has launched its Open Data Portal in order to deliver data sets to the public. Among their goas is to encourage more academics and tech companies to use data analytics to help make the city “smart” and efficient.

Mostly known for its prominence in the tech industry, San Francisco houses well over 880,000 people and has gotten pretty crowded. Since it’s one of the leading cities in tech startups, it is no surprise that it is using data to help propel its forward-thinking initiatives to the top. By using machine generated data, San Francisco is initiating “smart” programs aimed at improving public transportation and reducing pollution. Data collected on road conditions (such as these Vehicle Tracking feeds for the San Francisco Metropolitan area), carbon monoxide, and bicycle counts have contributed to the start of efforts such as SFpark: the goal is to better manage parking in the city, which in turn could help reduce traffic and harmful emissions. So far the project has reduced greenhouse gas readings by an amazing 30%.

Data is a key factor in enabling municipalities to become “smart cities.” Every city on this list has data in Terbine’s system that has been classified and characterized so that it can be used to help better our cities and eventually, our entire world.  terbine.info