How IoT Brings the Smart City Future to the Present

Kenny Kleinerman
Cloud Use CasesEdge Computing
23 Mar 2022

As urban populations worldwide are expected to grow in the next few decades, cities need to be more efficient and develop smarter infrastructures. This is possible through advanced technology and networks, such as IoT (Internet of Things) and sensors, which together form a smart city solution. Adopting smart city technology will soon be a necessity rather than an option.

Smart cities aren’t a new concept. From Paris and London to  San Francisco and New York, many cities around the world are already using smart city solutions and smart city networks in one way or another. Additionally, many other cities will soon take smart city initiatives to improve quality of life and manage resource constraints through smart city companies.

But what is an IoT smart city? In this article, we’ll provide a thorough understanding of the smart city plan, an IoT solution for smart cities, smart city IoT architecture, and all the related concepts. We’ll also answer questions like “what is smart city edge computing?” and “how can a smart city cloud improve urban life?” and explain real-world applications of big data to smart cities.


What Is a Smart City?

Components of a Smart city

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There isn’t one exact definition of a smart city. However, a smart city is usually defined as a city that uses IoT and ICT (information and communications technology) to enhance infrastructure and services provided to citizens and businesses. In addition, a smart city project aims to streamline a city’s day-to-day operations.

A smart city uses several technologies, such as IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), software solutions, communication networks, and more.

IoT is the key to turning a city into a smart city. IoT is a system of several connected devices, such as sensors, vehicles, and home appliances. IoT devices can communicate and transfer data via the internet without any human intervention. An IoT smart city also utilizes edge computing, creating an edge computing smart city. Edge computing brings compute power closer to an IoT device to save bandwidth and reduce latency.

Key characteristics of a smart city or IoT smart city are:

  • Smart city infrastructure based on advanced technology
  • Environmental friendly initiatives
  • Smart public transport system
  • Integrated urban planning
  • Ability to allow citizens to interact with smart city ecosystems, connected buildings, mobile devices, etc.


Internet of Things and Smart Cities


How IoT for smart cities works

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IoT technology is at the core of smart cities. From connected vehicles and connected buildings to internet-connected garbage bins and IoT-based fleet management, there are many IoT solutions for smart cities. The internet of things for smart cities allows city officials to manage and control connected devices remotely and ensure smooth operations.

Although smart cities involve several factors, smart city architecture in IoT usually progresses through three basic steps.

  • First, IoT sensors (installed throughout the city) collect real-time data. 
  • Next, analytics systems or data analysts analyze the sensors’ data to gain valuable insights. 
  • Finally, smart city organizers use the insights to create smart solutions, optimize operations, and improve efficiency and services provided to the residents.

A firewall security system is also essential for enabling reliable and secure IoT-based smart city applications. Firewalls secure the data transferred within a smart city network by blocking unauthorized access to the city data. A future smart city will also depend on Smart City Departments (SCDs) for better security.

Some studies, such as “Characterizing and classifying IoT traffic in smart cities and campuses,” also focus on how smart cities can monitor their IoT devices based on their network behavior for better security.

The field of research on IoT and smart cities is still developing. For more information, check out the book From Internet of Things to Smart Cities: Enabling Technologies

Applications of IoT in Smart Cities

Some examples of key IoT applications for a smart city include:

Smart Lighting Systems

There are numerous lighting devices installed throughout the city, consuming a significant amount of energy. However, smart city implementation models based on IoT technology can significantly improve a city’s lighting system by integrating it with advanced sensors and communication channels.

IoT-enabled smart lighting systems for smart cities help manage a city’s lighting system autonomously and more efficiently to save energy and reduce costs.

Smart Traffic Management

Building a smart city using the internet of things helps control traffic more efficiently. For example, cities can install IoT-based smart traffic lights and sensors that can automatically sense high volumes of traffic and adjust the duration of green lights accordingly. Likewise, a smart city can also embed sensors in bridges and roads to keep tabs on their condition and repair them immediately in case of wear and tear.

IoT-based Smart Waste Management in Cities

Cities usually have fixed days for disposing of waste, which can cause pollution. However, a smart city can use IoT to create a better waste management system to keep the city clean. For example, cities can install IoT sensors in trash cans to remotely monitor when they are full. This way, cities can dispose of the waste more quickly and efficiently.

An IoT smart city can also use sensors and IoT devices for better water management. Smart city sensors can track water levels, tank pressure, pipe condition, etc. Analyzing the sensor data helps cities reduce water waste by quickly fixing leaky pipes or high pressure in tanks.

IoT-based Transport and Healthcare

Another role of IoT in smart cities is smart transportation. IoT-based connected vehicles are easier to track to inform the public when a bus or train will arrive. Additionally, IoT data can also help optimize public transportation routes.

Similarly, IoT can provide better healthcare to citizens, such as microbots, remote patient monitoring, and more.

Read more about cloud computing in healthcare.

IoT for Smart Parking

Parking is usually an issue in large cities. However, a smart city can solve this issue by installing IoT sensors.

The sensors give information regarding empty parking spaces around the desired destination. City officials can also use this sensor data to track the areas with traffic congestion because of fewer parking spaces and areas with a lot of empty spaces. They can then optimize parking to save citizens’ time.’

Read more about cloud computing in smart automotive.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet of Things for Smart Cities

In this section, we’ll discuss the benefits of IoT in smart cities, pros and cons of smart cities and some of the major internet of things-based smart cities recent advances and challenges.

Advantages of IoT Solutions for Smart Cities

A few key benefits of IoT applications for smart cities include:

Enhanced Efficiency and Effectiveness

One of the key advantages of IoT for smart cities is that it gives government officials access to a massive amount of valuable information. By analyzing this information and data properly, city officials can make more effective decisions to improve the city and life for its citizens.

With IoT and cloud-based big data analytics for smart future cities, cities can identify high-risk areas more effectively and deploy police. Similarly, city officials can identify and serve the needs and interests of the citizens more efficiently.

Reduced Crime

IoT-based smart city solutions create a safer environment for citizens by reducing crime rates. IoT technologies for smart cities, such as connected crime centers and internet-connected body cameras, help police officers be more efficient. In fact, many cities are already turning to smart solutions to create a safer community.

Better Environment

Environmental pollution is on the rise in the form of greenhouse gases. However, smart cities and energy solutions, such as renewable energy sources and energy-efficient buildings, reduce the negative impact on the environment. This makes a smart city an even more attractive technology.
An IoT-based smart city also reduces environmental pollution by improving air quality. For example, cities can collect information about sources of pollution or identify bad air quality peak times by installing IoT air quality sensors throughout the city. Decision-makers can then monitor which areas of the city have the highest pollution and reroute traffic to alternate areas or use low emissions transportation options.

Better Services

Better services for citizens, such as transportation and healthcare systems, are also major benefits of a smart city. Connected vehicles, intelligent traffic signals, and smart parking help manage transportation more effectively. Additionally, smart healthcare technologies, such as remote monitoring, help create a better healthcare system.

Reduced Traffic Congestion

Building smart cities applications using IoT and cloud-based architectures also helps reduce traffic congestion. City officials can place sensors in the areas that get the most traffic and reroute heavy traffic. Additionally, an IOT-based smart parking system can reduce traffic congestion.

Disadvantages of IoT Solutions for Smart Cities

Smart cities mostly offer benefits for the betterment of citizens. However, since a smart city is based on technology, there are a few drawbacks.

Drawbacks of IoT and smart cities include:

  • Limited privacy of citizens as city officials have access to intelligent systems and cameras to monitor activity within the city
  • Since a smart city is based on IoT technology, a slow internet connection can disrupt city operation
  • There are high costs required to upgrade cities with smart technology. Hence, it takes time to reap the full benefits of smart technology.

Smart City Cloud Computing and IoT

We’ve already discussed how a smart city and IoT technology are connected. But what is a cloud smart city, and how is it related to IoT?


How cloud-based IoT system works

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IoT-based devices produce a lot of data. Hence, they need a place to store this data, but these devices usually have limited storage, performance capabilities, and power supplies. This is where cloud computing comes in.

The cloud offers shared resources, such as networks, storage, software, and servers. Smart cities can store the data collected by IoT sensors in the cloud’s unlimited storage. Cloud services and smart city cloud platforms also enable city officials to embed IoT data within IoT-connected electronic devices.

There are different cloud service options available, such as public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. Ridge, the world’s most distributed cloud, unlocks the full potential of cloud computing. It empowers businesses to deploy applications anywhere, on any infrastructure, with no latency or data residency obstacles.

If you want to learn more about IoT and cloud computing, check out our article on IoT and the Cloud.

Smart Cities Examples

Whenever we talk about smart cities, the first question that comes to mind is, “are there any IoT smart cities yet?” There are several IoT smart cities examples around the world.

Smart Cities in The World

London: London has developed a SmartPark project for smart parking to reduce traffic congestion. This project allows the citizens to locate parking spaces instantly.

Paris: Paris has announced the Paris Smart City 2050 project, which aims to create several high-rise buildings with positive energy output.

Pune: One of the biggest examples of a smart city in India is Pune, which is working on adopting IoT technology to improve the quality of life for citizens. Pune has already implemented smart LED and e-bikes.

The Nordic Smart City Network is based on a collaboration of 20 cities in five Nordic countries. The purpose of the network is to “explore the Nordic way to create livable and sustainable cities.”

Smart Cities in the US

Some smart city IoT examples in the US include New York City and San Francisco. New York City is working on a connected vehicle (CTV) project to eliminate deaths due to traffic and minimize crash-related injuries completely. San Francisco has implemented smart city technology for traffic signals.

You might also be interested in our article on this topic: IoT & Smart Cities: Transportation We Can Live With

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What applications in a smart city will use IoT technology?

IoT applications for the smart city include smart waste management, smart water management, smart lighting system, smart transportation, and enhanced healthcare services. Smart cities conferences also discuss other recent advances in smart city technology.

Linkedin Kenny Kleinerman, Head of Content | Ridge
As the Head of Content at Ridge, Kenny is in charge of navigating the tough subjects and bringing the Cloud down to Earth.