More than half of the World’s population now lives in urban areas. This shift from a primarily rural to a primarily urban population is projected to continue for the next couple of decades. Such enormous and complex congregations of people inevitably tend to become messy and disordered places.

Cities, megacities, generate new kinds of problems. Difficulty in waste management, scarcity of resources, air pollution, human health concerns, traffic congestions, and inadequate, deteriorating and aging infrastructures are among the more basic technical, physical, and material problems. Another set of problems are more social and organizational in nature rather than technical, physical or material. Problems of these types are associated with multiple and diverse stakeholders, high levels of interdependence, competing objectives and values, and social and political complexity. In this sense, city problems become wicked and tangled. Ensuring livable conditions within the context of such rapid urban population growth worldwide requires a deeper understanding of the smart city concept. The urgency around these challenges is triggering many cities around the world to find smarter ways to manage them.

 

Smart Cities are one of the areas of application of a term that in recent times we hear mentioned even more often: The Internet of Things. What is it about?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a new paradigm in which the virtual world of information and communications technology is tightly integrated with the real world of things.

IoT is taking on an increasingly important role and it is believed that by 2025 many everyday objects will become internet hubs, from domestic appliances to paper documents.

Starting from simple sensors of intelligent controls for the daily use or energy control, IoT begins to develop a large system in which all the actors and variables communicate with each other, exchange data, and improve the quality of the users’ lives and the whole community through an integrated system known as Smart City.

 

The aims of Smart Cities

·         Support better living, create more opportunities

·         Support stronger and more cohesive communities and improve the quality of life

·         Make a better use of the public resources and reduce the operational cost of the public administrations

·         Discover the reality of cities from different perspectives, and to discover how the latter affect the community’s quality of 

          life, sustainability, equilibrium and social development

·         Express the findings as specific needs and to identify the requirements which the possible solutions must satisfy

·         Develop strategies and techniques in design which enable innovative solutions to be proposed to local administrations and 

          social agents for the improvement of the quality of life, of social development, and of the attractiveness and sustainability 

          of the city through the participation of the citizens and the use of ICT

 

The most necessary condition is a valid and well-functioning infrastructure network combined with the use of the new digital technologies, so the smart cities could become some fundamental nodes to transfer, collect information and provide services to citizens.

The debate about SMART CITY is booming, both as an opportunity to drive a more sustainable economic development and an incubator of innovation and transformation that can merge the Virtual World of Mobile Services, Internet of Things and Social Networks with the Physical Infrastructures of Smart Building, Smart Utilities (i.e. electricity, heating, water, waste, structural health of buildings, air Quality, Noise Monitoring, Automation of Public Buildings etc.)

IoT waste management

Within only a few years of its inception, the Internet of Things (IoT) has had a noticeable impact across many industries. The 475 billion dollar industry is expected to grow to 562 billion dollars by 2020 and simultaneously also the municipal solid waste (MSW) generation levels are expected to double by 2025. While we already produce nearly 2 billion tonnes of MSW per year, the waste generation per capita is rising as economies develop. With strained budgets and growing populations, the world is facing a crisis that keeps growing.

 

Although the waste generation keeps growing especially in developing nations, the situation is not completely hopeless. Thanks to IoT technology, many forward-looking waste management companies are now installing wirelessly connected fill-level sensors in their waste containers to detect a full trash can. As a result, the companies are saving money on operational waste collection costs while leaving a lighter ecological footprint. One of the leading solution providers of IoT waste management sensors is a South Korean company called Ecube Labs, which provides not only fill-level sensors and a smart waste collection optimization platform, but also IoT based solar-powered waste compacting bins.

The concept of IoT waste management is fairly simple: an ultrasonic fill-level sensor is installed in a container to send periodical data transmissions via 2G/3G network to a remote software platform, where the data gets processed and optimization is made. The sensor works by emitting acoustic waves and then listening for an echo. Upon reaching a level surface, the waves reflect back to the sensor with a reading - similar to a process of echolocation. Besides measuring fill-level information to detect a full trash can, the IoT based sensor also measures the waste container's temperature and GPS coordinates. The device can be fitted in any type of waste container to measure any type of waste, including both solids and liquids.

 

The bins with the highest potential for operational cost reduction with IoT sensors include remotely located and far apart containers, bins with versatile filling patterns, and bins that hold high-value recyclables. In order to delay collecting the bins until they are at least 90% full, it is also better that the containers hold non-decomposing materials. Ideal targets include also bins with difficult access, as well as large overground and underground containers, silos and tanks.

 

What are the benefits of IoT waste management?

 

Detecting a full trash can remotely by utilizing IoT waste management enables waste management companies to reduce their operational costs by up to 50%. The main driver behind the cost reductions is the reduced amount of collections, which reflects in smaller fuel, labor and fleet management costs. Non-monetary benefits of utilizing the IoT based waste management solution include smart data-driven decision-making (the software calculates optimized collection routes and schedules), reduced CO2 emissions and pollution, cleaner public spaces and elimination of overflowing trash cans. The sensor also notifies its owner instantly in case of a fire alarm or theft.

 

IoT water management

As populations rise and urbanization trends continue, water utilities are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the growing demand for water resources. Challenged by aging infrastructure, an aging workforce, and limited budgets, utilities must find ways to run more efficient operations. With modern inline sensing equipment, simple communications hardware, and a flexible software platform approach, utilities can use real-time sensor data to better manage the quality of their water networks and the efficiency of their plant operations. This presentation explains numerous benefits from using inline monitoring technologies to improve the efficiency of plant operations and concludes with an argument that the health of the water management industry depends on a thriving ecosystem of policy makers, environmental agencies, manufacturers, municipalities, plant operators, and users.

 

Chinese Smart City phenomena

Smart cities are booming in Asia as urbanization is moving at the same pace there.  21 megacities already account for 9% of the world urban population; 97% of the fastest growing cities are in growth markets, 8 in China, 11 in India.  The China’s urban population has expanded rapidly in recent years.

China is the country where the transformation is more quickly: 18+ cities have announced smart city plans.

 

Ningbo is a seaport city in Zhejiang province, not too far from Shanghai since 2008, when a 33 km cross-sea bridge was built, allowing travel to Shanghai in less than two hours, with a population of 7.6 million inhabitants. Last years Ningbo released its action plan for developing as a Smart City.

There are 87 individual projects covering logistics, manufacturing, public services, energy, social administration, traffic, healthcare, residential site management, and entertainment services. For example IBM Smart Logistics Center, Ningbo Branch Corporation of Tata of India, BT Cloud Computing Center, Shuguang Cloud Computing Center have come to settle in.  Recently 100 companies and research institutes in Ningbo have formed a huge industrial chain of Internet of Things. The IoT is to generate an output value of RMB 5000 billion in coming 10 years. Currently, the Ningbo companies of IoT are mainly engaged in application solutions, sensors, transmission and telecom, computing, etc.

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