More people live in cities today than at any time in human history. Of the 82 biggest cities in the US, which account for a cumulative population of more than 59 million people, 87% of those cities increased in population between 2014 and 2015 as reported by USA Today. This population growth—and the pressures that arise from it—will result in cities working to develop efficiencies and strategies that help them remain viable and vibrant. Cities that succeed in improving their sustainability and adaptability will attract businesses and people that will work to improve their respective economies and overall quality of life.
More recently, the concept of social innovation is becoming increasingly important as it relates to the development of smart cities. Social innovation focuses attention on the ideas and solutions that create social value or wide-reaching positive impact—as well as the processes by which they are generated. Let’s look at some real-world examples of smart city applications leveraging the Internet of Things that are creating efficiencies amid the continuous growth of urban areas.
Smart Cities A very relevant smart city example concerns water conservation based on the severe drought conditions that have plagued the west coast in recent years. Installing sensors into pipes allows for immediate detection of leaks, saving millions of gallons of water. In a similar manner, vertical farms are becoming very popular. These are farms that are built up rather than out and are connected to business networks, which allow farmers to track supply and demand, and utilize automated drip irrigation systems.
Another life-saving example of a smart city application involves bridge monitoring. Inserting a sensor into a bridge’s foundational cement enables 24 x 7 monitoring of the bridge’s stress levels, which enable early detection of structural issues.