Smart Cities

The Smart City concept refers to a new paradigm for urban planning and management, based on the intensive use of ICT, aimed at achieving better cities from a holistic perspective that encompasses social, economic and environmental aspects. It is, in short, a model that advocates the use of new technologies to get more livable cities within an evolutionary framework that ensures their sustainable development. This emphasis on social and environmental aspects makes the Smart City model to be perceived as more than just a technological concept.

From the technical point of view, the Smart City model considers the city as a complex system made up of citizens, resources and services. The status of each service is monitored through a layer of sensors, which send the captured data through the appropriate communication network to an analysis platform. The results of the analysis are then used for the service managers for making decisions to optimize the service.

There are numerous examples of Smart City services that have proven success for improving the efficiency public utilities such as electricity grids, gas networks, drinking water networks, sewage systems, street lighting, and public telecommunications networks. The use of ICT for intelligent monitoring of such assets can result in an improvement in the services provided to people in terms of availability, efficiency or safety.

For example, a sensor network can facilitate early detection and precise location of faults such as gas leaks, broken or clogged pipes, or the presence of contaminants in the drinking water network. It is also possible to consider an intelligent system to automatically control the street lighting, turn on/off lampposts based on the ambient brightness or even the presence or absence of people in the vicinity. Similarly, the use of a network of sensors and actuators can be considered to automatically regulate the intensity and frequency of watering in parks and gardens depending on weather conditions.

The concept of Smart City services encompasses more than those offered by the utilities. Thus, other services that can be improved under the Smart City paradigm include those provided by public safety agencies (police, fire, ambulance), public transport systems (metro, bus), garbage collection and recycling services, public health system (hospitals and clinics), etc.

Thus, for example, the availability of video surveillance cameras and the ability to control traffic lights in real-time, can improve the work of the police, fire service or ambulances in an emergency. Using the Internet to apply for appointments in the public health system is a reality in many European cities. In the area of waste collection, devices monitoring the occupancy of containers can provide real time information to optimize routes of pickup trucks. So, for example, some cities have implemented a waste collection service that requires the identification of the user (individuals or companies) accessing the container, adapting the service fee to the volume and type of the generated waste, and promote correct separation at origin.

The use of the Internet in the e-Government area is also considered a Smart City indicator. Thus, there are many municipalities that allow people to perform various administrative procedures (e.g. pay taxes, apply for licenses) by electronic means.