March 29, 2023 14:35

Top 8 Smart City Solutions That Benefit the Cities and Residents

Smart cities use a framework of communication and information technologies to solve urban challenges and create a sustainable and smart infrastructure. The benefits of smart cities are numerous – improved transport and environment, safer communities, enhanced community spirit, and data-based decision-making effectiveness.

Green Brother is an initiative that looks for start-ups with ideas and solutions to make more cities smart. This article shares some of the best ideas and explains how start-ups can turn them into reality thanks to Green Brother.

What Makes a City Smart? 

There are many definitions of smart cities. One popular quote describes a city that: 

Makes optimal use of the available interconnected information to control and understand the city’s operations and optimize limited resource use. 

Smart cities have an information and communication technology framework that helps them develop and promote practices that solve urban challenges. The aim is also to establish a common technology-supported and sustainable infrastructure. 

History of Smart Cities 

The U.S. Community Analysis Bureau first introduced the term smart cities in the 1960s. The Bureau began using aerial photography, databases, and other resources to collect and analyze data. The goal was to reduce poverty and prevent disasters. As a result, the first smart city was created: Los Angeles

Characteristics of Smart Cities 

The following characteristics can determine the level of smartness of a city: 

  • Technology infrastructure 

  • Eco-friendly initiatives 

  • Functional and effective public transportation system 

  • Progressive city plans 

  • Being able to live and work in the city and rely on its resources 

How Smart Cities Work 

Four crucial steps make life improvement possible in cities. A smart city that follows these steps unlocks the potential for economic growth using internet of things devices and similar technology. 

  1. Data collection in real-time using smart sensors 

  1. Data analysis to better understand the city’s operation and services 

  1. Communication with decision-makers about the data analysis results 

  1. Action for improving and managing assets and quality of life in the city 

The information and communication technology (ICT) framework facilitates the decision-making process. The citizens can use their smartphones to engage with city ecosystems, like connecting their vehicles or buildings. Doing so lowers costs, boosts sustainability, and streamlines energy distribution. 

Importance of Smart Cities 

The world population in cities is expected to rise in the coming years. With more than half of the people living in cities, making smarter cities is of utmost importance for managing resources. 

The citizens can work with authorities to create initiatives in developing urban environments to bring solutions that favour everyone. 

Smart cities offer high quality of life for residents and unlock economic growth potential. The transition to smart technology also opens new income streams and saves money for the citizens and government. 

Below is an overview of at least nine reasons why we need smart cities: 

  • Better public health 

  • Reduced traffic 

  • Boosted public safety 

  • Connecting citizens with local officials 

  • Educating citizens 

  • Easier access to public services 

  • Better humanitarian effort access 

  • Better community engagement 

Top 8 Smart Solutions for the Cities of the Future 

Smart Traffic Control 

Modern cities experience traffic jams multiple times per day. Financial losses, stress, and CO2 wastage are the direct consequences. Fortunately, with innovative technology for smart traffic light control, traffic jams can be reduced. 

Residents can receive real-time updates through a smart traffic management system. These real-time updates come from traffic insights and accurate time predictions so that priority can be given to public transport. 

A similar initiative already exists in Pittsburgh, U.S., and has shown favourable results. 

Smart Automatic Parking 

Parking is a serious issue in most big cities in Europe and the rest of the world. With more and more people using cars, the need for parking spaces increases daily. 

A smart parking system can help overcome the inability to build more parking spaces in big cities. The idea is to secure a parking space in the city beforehand to avoid searching for a free spot. 

Consequently, the driver saves time and emits less CO2. The users can also track free parking spaces in real-time, contributing to reduced traffic jams. 

Your Parking is a great example of a startup that has taken smart automatic parking to another level. It allows the parking space owner to protect their property, share the parking lot using an application, and ensure the space is available for their needs. If anyone wants to use a parking spot reserved for another person, they need the permission of the parking spot owner. 

Smart Mobility 

Smart mobility has already become widespread across cities. Car sharing, bike sharing, and even smart scooters have made it to the streets of hundreds of European cities. These green mobility initiatives reduce vehicle pollution and lower traffic jams. 

Block is an excellent example of a startup that promotes smart mobility in Hungary. The aim is to offer secure bicycle racks for more sustainable urban mobility, making the daily lives of cyclists worry-free. 

Meter Solutions Kft is another startup for energy network managers and fleet operators. The idea is to provide a demand-size response system that helps optimize EV charging. 

RoboGaze, on the other hand, focuses on lowering road fatalities by monitoring fatigue, attention, and potential drowsiness. The integrated AI systems make sure the driver is in optimal condition to drive and is aware of potentially dangerous situations. 

Smart Street Lighting 

Some cities spend up to 65% of their energy bills on street lighting. The expense is primarily due to a system where street lights only have an on-and-off mode. This system is ineffective because it can cause power outages when lights are being used too much. It also causes energy wastage. 

Alternative smart lighting ideas include a street light monitoring system that detects a human presence and turns the light on or off accordingly. It would be possible to monitor the lights remotely and identify power outages in the city. 

Some cities in the Netherlands have already implemented this idea, and hopefully, others will follow. 

Smart Utilities 

Households in cities waste thousands of litres of water due to undetected leaks and poor water waste management. This adds to utility costs and can cause damage to the building or home. Automatic leakage management systems can monitor water usage in real-time, similar to the system numerous airports already have in place. 

In contrast, smart metering tracks and controls energy consumption and saves money and energy. This idea includes remote contact with a metered contact point. 

The initiative, however, has to come from a governmental body or local utility management company since residents can’t choose the type of metering system in their homes. 

Smart Buildings 

Smart buildings with integrated photovoltaics have been receiving more attention recently. Although not necessary, photovoltaics offer greater benefits than standard electrical power. Apple Inc. is one of the most popular companies to install gigantic photovoltaic cells on its roof. As a result, the company now generates 100% renewable energy. 

Safety and Society 

Smart city ideas also include solutions for greater safety and security of its citizens. For example, a perimeter access control initiative can prevent intrusions around a particular perimeter. Controls used for perimeter access include walls and fences, motion sensors, CCTV security systems, fingerprint identification systems, and pedestrian barriers. 

Installing such control systems could significantly reduce crime rates in big cities. 

Smart Healthcare Solutions 

Cities play an important role when it comes to healthcare. With so many residents being in direct and indirect contact daily, protecting their health is of paramount importance. Smart healthcare solutions like apps where residents can find resources to improve and optimize their health between doctor visits became more common following the covid pandemic. 

Possibilities of Start-up With Ideas

The leading initiative, Green Brother, support start-ups with innovative ideas, especially those that aim to implement smart city solutions and logistics. Through EIT Urban Mobility and EIT InnoEnergy international network, Green Brother matches start-ups with relevant opportunities to promote sustainable urban mobility solutions at local and international level.  

In short, Green Brother can help your startup find partners that also aim to support  sustainable urban mobility solutions. 

The program is available for all urban mobility sectors, and Green Brother can help you find your opportunity. 

Green Brother is always on the lookout for new start-ups with ideas. Other possibilities for start-ups in 2023 include the following: 

  • RAPTOR Agile Innovation Call for start-ups and SMEs from March to May 2023 

  • Open call for EIT Urban Mobility partners from February to June 2023 

  • Call for EIT UM Partners for user engagement for urban mobility solutions from April to May 2023 

  • Cross-KIC Open Call for NEB Co-creation of public space through Citizen Engagement in June 2023 

  • Second Open Call for Innovation for EIT Urban Mobility areas in sustainable city logistics, mobility, energy, and future mobility in July 2023