A taste of the future of smart cities showcased in London
Today I’ve spent the day at Smart to Future Cities 2017 in London, a Europe-centric event which examines the practical applications of smart city initiatives.
Talks centred around many of the key issues in the industry, including security, scalability and citizen engagement and we learned about the importance of insights when it comes to data collection.
There has also been a whole host of smart tech on offer from vendors looking to capitalise on the growth of smart cities. Here’s my pick of the best.
One interesting business on show was Smart Parking, the organisation behind Europe’s first citywide deployment of bay sensor technology in the city of Cardiff.
As the name suggests, Smart Parking provides internet connected car parking platforms that aim to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and optimise parking space usage throughout a city.
The product uses a network of wireless sensors to monitor the number of free parking bays for on-street and off-street facilities, with all the information being fed back to the company’s SmartCloud platform.
Drivers can then download the SmartApp to locate vacant parking spaces in real time, as well as being directed around the city by GPS navigation.
Finally, local councils can make use of data analytics to review car parking activity for up to the past 12 months, providing occupancy trends for certain areas across the city, activity comparisons, average turnover and even create ‘heat map’ style reports of parking usage.
Big brother is watching
A lot of the emphasis for any smart city discussion is based around public safety and that is exactly where Genetec comes in with its video surveillance and response management tool.
Genetec’s mantra is about ‘better surveillance, not more surveillance’, with its multipurpose tools making use of existing infrastructure to collect information on the public’s movements and behaviours.
Its Security Center combines IP video surveillance, access control, automatic license plate recognition and SIP communications within one platform and is supported by an incident management system to significantly boost situational intelligence.
This mix of platforms enables councils to fully understand their environment, both from a safety and a design perspective.
A pole new world
One of the more innovative products getting attention at Smart to Future Cities was the Multipole, a multi-functional lamppost-style tool that can be used to house a range of different smart city technologies.
The possible services that the Multipole can house include: a digital weather station with automated reporting, CCTV monitoring, public Wi-Fi, smart street lighting, electric vehicle charging, digital signage and LED projector and car parking payment machines.
The flexibility it offers is extremely impressive and would go a long way to solving the issue of ‘digital clutter’ as more and more technologies are introduced to our city streets.
The business is based in Australia and the Multipole is currently being used in cities in locations such as Qatar, New Zealand and across Europe.
The most prevalent type of product on show was smart lighting, with multiple vendors touting the various sustainability, energy efficiency and safety benefits of digital lighting.
Philips, for example, was at Smart to Future Cities with its DigiStreet lighting platform, which provides various forms of LED lighting for roads and streets with units ranging from 10 to 120 LED lightbulbs.
Andreas Knobloch, head of global alliances at Philips Lighting, described city lighting as “the crossroads of emotional and technical” and highlighted its role in making citizens feel safe as they move around the city and aiding incident response.
Also in attendance was Lucy Zodion, a UK-based smart street lighting manufacturer focused on enabling more connected and efficient cities.
A lot of the company’s emphasis is based on the energy-saving capabilities of connected street lights, as well as the provision of management platforms and electrical infrastructure.