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Blog January 2024 Updated April 2024

Building Resilient Smart Cities

Addressing the needs of citizens with data and the Internet of Things

Lara van Rijswijk

Lara van Rijswijk

Head of Marketing EMEA & ANZ

Building resilient smart cities

Addressing the needs of citizens with data and the Internet of Things

Across the EMEA, urban populations are steadily expanding, exerting pressure on existing infrastructure and resources. This growth necessitates a well-thought-out approach to urban development, one that takes into account the imperatives of sustainability, safety, and efficient public services.

The movement for smart cities isn’t just gaining momentum. It’s here. While more than 55% of the world's population currently lives in cities, the figure is much higher in Europe, at 75%. Given this figure, the need for smart cities is strong. Already, 240 European cities with populations over 100,000 have made progress towards becoming smart cities. Italy, Austria and the Netherlands lead the way, along with half of cities in Britain, Spain, and France. Perhaps surprisingly, Germany is behind. Elsewhere in the EMEA, Saudi Arabia has established smart-city initiatives, while Abu Dhabi and Dubai are ranked as the smartest cities in the Middle East and North Africa region.

A resilient smart city represents a forward-looking urban paradigm that strategically incorporates data integration and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to enhance the sustainability, safety, and quality of life for its residents. This concept signifies a proactive approach to urban development, one that not only prepares cities to withstand unexpected challenges such as natural disasters, economic fluctuations, and environmental changes, but also positions them to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Citizens across major urban cities around the world feel positive about smart cities, with 58% believing it will improve sustainability and 57% citing better urban services. Over a third (36%) are willing to pay more for using smart-city initiatives. This figure is higher for Millennials (44%), Gen Z (41%) and citizens in the higher-income bracket of U.S. $80,000+ (43%). Most telling, 73% of those who have used smart city initiatives say they are happier with their quality of life in terms of health factors, such as air quality.

Government investments in infrastructure, precincts, and cities have never been higher. This presents a tremendous opportunity to accelerate efforts and further develop exceptional, intelligent communities that revolve around pivotal initiatives.

Municipalities must illustrate to treasury departments their capacity to yield comprehensive place-based metrics that focus on factors such as livability, productivity, sustainability, and citizen well-being. Conventional financial indicators, such as positive discounted cash flow, will also be considered. By presenting the broader advantages, planners get a more comprehensive and holistic view of the potential impacts and outcomes of the investment, while boosting stakeholder engagement.

The foundation of smart cities

The integration of data lies at the heart of the resilient smart city. This involves the comprehensive collection, analysis, and utilisation of data from a wide array of sources within the city. These sources can range from sensors embedded in infrastructure and vehicles to data contributed by residents and government agencies. By seamlessly integrating and harnessing this data, smart cities gain valuable insights into various aspects of urban life, including traffic patterns, energy consumption, air quality, and much more.

This data ecosystem is fueled by IoT technologies. The Internet of Things involves the interconnection of everyday objects and devices with the internet, allowing them to gather real-time data and share it through interconnected systems. Within a smart city context, this translates to sensors and devices strategically positioned across the urban environment, consistently capturing and transmitting information. This data stream acts as the vital foundation of the city's decision-making mechanisms, guiding initiatives intended to improve sustainability, safety, and the delivery of public services.

Sustainability is a key pillar of the resilient smart city, as we’ve already seen by the desires of residents. By leveraging the wealth of data and IoT technologies at its disposal, smart cities can effectively monitor and manage resources. For instance, they can optimise energy consumption, reduce water wastage, and promote eco-friendly transportation solutions. Through these sustainable practices, smart cities are not only minimising their environmental footprint but also fostering long-term resource resilience.

Safety is another critical aspect of smart city development. IoT technologies offer a number of safety applications, including early warning systems for natural disasters, surveillance cameras for crime prevention, and real-time monitoring of air quality for public health purposes. These technologies enhance overall safety within the city and bolster its capacity to respond swiftly and effectively to unforeseen emergencies.

The resilient smart city places a strong emphasis on improving public services. Data-driven insights enable cities to enhance the quality and accessibility of services provided to residents. For instance, smart transportation systems offer real-time updates on public transit, reducing commute times and enhancing convenience. Smart city initiatives can also lead to improved healthcare access, enhanced educational opportunities, and more efficient community services.

The role of the waste and recycling in the smart city

Waste and recycling directly impacts both sustainability and public services, so it’s critical that these services adopt end-to-end IoT technologies.

Using AMCS Route Optimisation as an example, this intuitive platform combines dynamic route planning and real-time optimisation, reducing planning and administrative time by up to 75%. This results in reductions of up to 25% in CO2 emissions, mileage and driving time, and up to 15% fewer trucks needed.

All of this significantly improves customer service and visit accuracy, which adds to residents’ quality of life – and that’s at the essence of the smart city.

Telematics can help further reduce fuel usage and CO2 emissions by identifying fleet and driver behaviour so that the operator can take corrective action. Real-time and robust bin management solutions that use GPS, an on-board weighing system, and RFID can monitor, validate, and optimise waste collections, helping to define the smart city.

If data can be collected in any facet of waste and recycling operations, it’s a contributor to the smart city. On the face of it, AMCS Fleet Maintenance reduces costs on parts, labour, and breakdowns while increasing warranty recovery. But it also contributes to the efficient and resilient smart city. You’re able to capture data that helps you prevent breakdowns, reduce downtime and extend the lifespan of your fleet. The circular economy is part of the smart-city concept, and with it, keeping assets alive vs. throwing them away. And of course, preventing breakdowns enables you to deliver services without interruptions. That’s an important part of the smart city.

This is just a taste of the contributions that municipals’ waste and recycling operations can make and just as importantly, how they can do it. To learn more, we invite you to our insightful webinar, Smart Ways to the Digital City, February 29th / 10:30am GMT. Register now for this don’t-miss opportunity.

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