You have heard of smart homes and smart cars, but what about smart cities? America is slowly being transformed into a country where smart cities are engineered to make life better for everyone. A key element of the smart city strategy are the remote sensing applications that mine tremendous amounts of data that can be used to improve urban life.
Rock West Solutions, a California company that develops and tests remote sensor applications, explains that the smart city concept is a natural extension of the latest generation of remote sensor capabilities. Today we can deploy a limitless number of sensors to measure just about anything. All the data those sensors produce offers valuable information that we can use for a variety of purposes.
Practical Uses for Smart Cities
Imagining how remote sensor applications are developed to promote smart cities is not easy if you are not involved with advanced sensor technology. But most of us can understand the practical implications of such technologies. Below are a few examples of how smart cities can use remote sensors for the benefit of the public good:
- Better Crime Statistics – Smart sensors can track criminal activity by measuring sounds associated with certain kinds of crimes. Sensors can also be linked to security systems to glean data whenever alarms are activated or cameras pick up images. This all leads to better crime statistics and, ultimately, more effective crime prevention.
- Understanding Traffic Flow – Developers in some early-stage smart cities are already using data gleaned from remote sensors to better understand traffic flow. The more they understand about traffic in a given area, the better they are at planning developments that do not make problem traffic worse. In many cases, projects are developed to improve traffic flow.
- Measuring Urban Pollution – Pollution is a big problem in urban centers. Whether it’s air, noise, or light pollution, remote sensors can measure it in a real and tangible way. City planners can then work on ways to minimize pollution. Data-driven pollution control is a lot more effective than hit-and-miss efforts.
There are certainly more remote sensor applications not listed here. Indeed, the possibilities are virtually endless. You can make the case that the biggest challenge is not overdoing it. There is no point in deploying sensors and collecting data that will not be used.
Smart Cities Already in Play
The smart city concept is not just a futuristic fantasy. It’s actually being developed right now by a number of communities scattered across the country. Simply put, smart cities are already in play. They are acting as a proving ground for the remote sensor applications that will drive the smart cities of the future.
San Diego is one such city. Because San Diego owns all 65,000 streetlights within its limits, city government was free to install smart sensors at the same time they were replacing older light bulbs with newer LED alternatives. The city saved millions of dollars in lighting costs, using the savings to purchase and install the sensors. They still had money left over at the end.
Now it’s up to the city to work with the private sector to make use of the sensor data. One of the first projects is to begin monitoring vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow in key areas of the city. The data will ultimately help steer future development projects.
Remote sensor applications have proved themselves valuable in many different areas. They are now being adopted by cities hoping to transform themselves into smarter urban areas in the future. Say hello to the era of smart cities.