New Technologies in Smart Cities

In today’s post, the Executive Director of Knowledge Innovation Market Antoni Paz will explain how the absorption of new technologies in smart cities will most likely materialize.

By 2050, the world population will reach 9 billion and the majority of people will live in urban areas. It’s something that has been discussed a fair amount and is somewhat common knowledge. However, in the context of smart cities, it would be interesting to compare it with the development of new technologies.

According to Moore’s law, the world’s technological capacity to store, communicate, and compute information will lead to singularity by 2045. By that time, the machines will have learned enough to be able to make decisions without any human involvement. All in all, there are many factors that indicate that the growth in technologies is a match for the population growth.

Smart City projects are rarely isolated, they tend to link different technological areas as well as sensors and data. But above all, smart cities are a model to manage cities’ resources in a new and more efficient way that relies largely on technology.

There are two concepts that we should employ when speaking about new technologies in smart cities, those of absorptive capacity and open innovation.

Absorptive Capacity

Absorptive capacity is a term first used in business administration to refer to “a firm’s ability to recognize the value of new information, assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends”. In the context of smart cities and innovation, it means more or less the same: developing, anticipating and maintaining the absorption capacity is critical for the survival of the model.

The value of each innovation depends on our capacity to absorb and take advantage of it. New technologies alone, without any social impact, don’t actually have a value.

Open Innovation vs Closed Innovation

Open Innovation is something very tightly connected to absorption capacity. Opposed to closed innovation that is built on the secrecy and silo mentality of the traditional corporate research lab, open innovation means sourcing external knowledge for one’s innovation management strategies.

In smart city context, this means that we need open data for open innovation. In an ideal scenario, the institutions acknowledge crowdsourcing as a tool to improve the relationship to their citizens by integrating them into political decision making.

What does the smart city of tomorrow look like?

New technologies in smart cities: 5G, IoT, Cloud, blockchain

“Transmission technologies” and infrastructure are the base technologies that support the framework of a smart city. Without the infrastructure of technology, it’s hard to make a shift towards smart city. All agents of a city – logistics, government, the companies – play their part in the total absorption capacity.

From here onwards, we can speak of three main types of technologies: “Data collection” technologies, “Service application” technologies and  “Storage and analysis” technologies. In what follows, we’re gonna take a look at the new technologies in smart cities and what’s their role in the model.

New Technologies in Smart Cities

IoT in Smart Cities

What does the Internet of Things mean for smart cities? The Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as connected sensors, lights, and meters can collect and analyze data for the better functioning of smart cities – that makes IoT a “data collection technology”.

From there, the cities can use this data to improve infrastructure, public utilities, services, etc. Or in other words, IoT is a real-time communication “tool” that will permit us to:
– know the state of traffic
– improve waste recycling and the water and air quality
– access tele-assistance services
– offer immediate incident management

Cloud Technologies in Smart Cities

The development of a smart city requires the storage capacity, scalability, security and data processing of users and enterprises. Firstly, storing this information safely is fundamental. Secondly, it’s not only about accessing the data, but it must be represented and visualized conveniently to turn it into useful information when making decisions.

That’s where cloud technology enters the equation: it’s the digital infrastructure for smart cities. A cloud functions as a storage and analysis system for the data used in everything connected in a smart city. PCs and server files, web page meta-data, images and video and data created by machine-to-machine communication will all be housed in the cloud.

5G in Smart Cities

5G is a key technology when it comes to digital transformation. It’s a step towards a hyperconnected world in which the resolution of procedures and management of tasks and processes is centralized in increasingly advanced devices with greater transfer capacity and connectivity than ever.

We can say that 5G is one of the enabling infrastructures for IoT. As smart cities rely on IoT to function properly, 5G and smart cities are inextricably linked:
– 5G technology will permit the interconnection of more than 50 billion connected objects (IoT)
– The data transmission speed will reach 10 Gigabits per second, that is 100 to 1000 times faster than that of 4G.
– Latency – the response time won’t be superior to 1 millisecond
– According to EU data, the 5G technology will generate an energy saving of 90% on current consumption.
– The implantation of 5G will entail the installation of tens of thousands of smallcells that will replace big cellphone towers and will contribute to a denser and more connected network.

Aerospatial Technologies in Smart Cities

What are the advantages of investing in aerospatial technology? The answer is that there are many technologies, such as geospatial, that can aid in building perfect smart cities. With geospatial technologies, the cities can become more accurate and efficient in their operations.

Geospatial technologies not just provide accurate geospatial data but also help in analysing and applying the enormous amounts of data in the best way. EU Earth observation program Copernicus is a good example of that. Its satellites and ground-based, airborne and seaborne measurement systems produce timely and quality information, services and knowledge. That way we have open data about about general security, environment, natural disaster prevention, smart mobility, etc. The precision and adequacy of that data is really remarkable.

Blockchain Technologies in Smart Cities

Blockchain can verify identities and authorize access. Blockchain records and stores transactions in immutable records and makes data exchanges between distributed gadgets seamless and cost-efficient. In other words, blockchain is a technology secure enough to keep smart cities in business.

It permits us to guarantee in a transparent and democratic way that the systems are trustful. With a decentralized system we can help people carry out secure transactions. One of use cases this new technology has in smart cities is for smart electrical grids.

In this blog, we have already dedicated two articles to blockchain in smart cities, as we brought ot you 12 practical use cases and delved into integrated blockchain-based smart city solutions platforms.

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Antoni Paz
Collaborates in Master’s in Global Smart City Manager
Executive Director at Knowledge Innovation Market

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