Big Data to Pave the Way for Smart Cities

There have been a lot of discussions regarding the concept of a ‘Smart City’ for quite some time now. ‘Cities’ are now being considered ‘Future Smart Cities’.  But, wait! What’s the whole concept of smart cities? Theoretically, smart cities can transform the lives of people at numerous levels, such as less garbage, no pollution, energy savings and a lot more. Though the idea at first seems very appealing, the actual implementation of the concept has always been a massive hurdle because of a number of reasons. Well, with the advent of big data analytics and numerous technology upgrades, ‘hype’ is going to turn into ‘reality’ in the near future.

By 2023, technological upgrades in the purview of smart cities will grow to an industry worth more than $25 billion if the figures revealed by New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) are to be believed. There will be around 80 smart cities across the globe by 2025, the same study found out.

Popularly known as the ‘city-in-a-box’, the city of Songdo, South Korea is a perfect example of how it has been transformed big data analytics. Built with the vision of a connected city, developers of Songdo wired every inch of the smart city with fiber optic connection of broadband services.  Dubbed as “The smart City of the future” by some, Songdo is equipped with eco-friendly models, a lower energy footprint and a lot of green space.

Numerous sensors in the city monitor traffic flow, pollution levels, temperature and energy use, among others. Data makes life of residents safe and secure. For example, children wearing sensor integrated bracelets can be tracked in case they go missing. Garbage Collection in the one-of-its-kind smart city will also generate data. The planners and developers of the Songdo are working on the model of eliminating garbage collection trucks. Other features of the city include smart energy grids and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags on vehicles, among others.

The concept of smart cities might sound like a far-fetched dream, but some urban areas have already been leveraging it for some time now.  Los Angeles’ interconnected network of LED bulbs is helping the local government know the condition of each bulb in the city. It will also result in brighter streets and will track the status of malfunctioning bulbs, if any, in the city. The Natural History Museum, located in Shanghai, has a unique shape. Though the idea of a spiral shape is partially taken from the shell of the pearly nautilus, it has the capability to control crowd movement by incorporating big data analytics.

The smart city chapter is still in the ‘I’ll get it when I see it’ phase but developers have already started exploring every possible aspect of the overall concept. From managing parking problems to reducing emissions and bringing down pollution levels, big data analytics has opened a new scope regarding what can be controlled in the cities leveraging big data.

Building and incorporating big data applications will require developers to address a new set of challenges following rigorous development and design models. With better understanding of the concept and success factors in the right place, the idea of building a smart city will be possible and further improve it for even smarter services and models will be a sustainable and an attainable goal.  


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