“It’s amazing what can be achieved when government is committed and prepared to partner with industry,” was the AIIA Internet of Things summit MC’s reaction to a presentation from Steve Leonard on Singapore’s quest to become a connected city today.
Leonard, the head of Singapore’s IDA, had laid how the nation had embarked on a smartcity project due to the pressures of increased population and an ageing society. The government sees technology as a way to deliver health services more effectively and use scarce resources more efficiently.
One of the areas Leonard cited was in traffic management where the city’s bureaucrats asked “how can we double the traffic on our roads without building anything new?”
The answer lies in smartcars and autonomous vehicles, Singapore has partnered with MIT to run a driverless car pilot on some of the city’s roads. Leonard points out that cars can travel closer together when run by computers rather than being driven by humans.
For governments traffic management is one of the easiest ways to introduce the internet of things into smart cities says Lutz Heuser, Chief Technology Officer of Germany’s Urban Software Institute.
Heuser worries that many cities are “sitting on the fence” when it comes to rolling out IoT and smartcity initiatives and sees “the humble lightpost” as being one of the ways technology can be rolled out into urban environment.
This echoes the Geek’s tour of Barcelona where street light poles are a key part of the city’s digital infrastructure, providing a base for sensors and the Wi-Fi connectivity needed for devices like intelligent rubbish bins and digital services.
One of the advantages of using intelligent, or at least half smart, lightpoles is that local governments are replacing them on a regular basis – around three quarters of Europe’s poles are more than twenty-five years old – which means they can be rolled out as part of a planned maintenance programs.
Having rolled out connected city initiatives like Barcelona’s smartbins or Singapore’s ‘fibre hydrants’ – fibre nodes around the city that government and emergency services can tap into when needed – local businesses can then leverage off that infrastructure to further improve the well being of citizens.
For governments, the rolling out of smartcity technologies is to deliver better services more efficiently. As Singapore and Barcelona have showing, by working with local businesses it becomes far easy for agencies to deliver real improvements in their communities.