Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tech & Science

Three innovations to bring the smart city closer

A view of London and the River Thames
A view of London and the River Thames

Smart cities refers to cities that use new information and communication technologies to solve pressing problems, such as housing, transportation, and energy, in urban planning and governance.

To an extent the term ‘smart city‘ is a buzz word as designated ‘smart cities’ have taken time to become truly smart. To assist this process different innovations are under way. We look at three examples.

Tackling traffic congestion

A modern city is made of many different parts and urban planners must take account of where these services are located, and traffic controllers must consider the optimal way to get there. One problem that affects many cities is traffic.

To examine how congestion can be reduced by utilizing smart technology, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have devised a new machine learning algorithm designed to aid urban transportation analysts relieve bottlenecks and chokepoints that routinely snarl city traffic.

Traffic congestion in the northwestern Punak neighbourhood of Tehran on October 4  2016

Traffic congestion in the northwestern Punak neighbourhood of Tehran on October 4, 2016
Atta Kenare, AFP

The new system makes use of traffic datasets collected from UBER drivers and other publicly available traffic sensor data to map street-level traffic flow over time.

The development is described in the following video:

Smart planning to address climate change

Smart technology, together with even smarter thinking, can help to address the climate change issues that the modern city is often associated with.

As climate change pushes many cities towards dangerous temperatures, University of Utah researchers have shown how the cumulative excessive heat can be mitigated. The proposal is to replace artificial surfaces with vegetation cover.

This could be particularly useful in water-limited regions. In such environs, municipalities can seek to better balance the benefit of cooler temperatures by avoiding the use of precious water for irrigation.

A city view of Eindhoven. The picture illustrates both modern and older buildings; these contrasting...

A city view of Eindhoven. The picture illustrates both modern and older buildings; these contrasting styles capture the spirit of Eindhoven.

The proposal is based on a study in Utah where sixty sensors were used to analyze the microclimate in five locations throughout the valley. This showed how lawns reduced daytime and nighttime temperatures even more than trees did, and hence increasing vegetation is one way to reduce the impact of the city upon the micro-climate.

The research appears in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, in a paper titled “Effects of vegetation on the spatial and temporal variation of microclimate in the urbanized Salt Lake Valley.”

Pan national approach to the smart city

A wider perspective on smart cities is being run across the European Union. This is the European ALMANAC (Reliable Smart Secure Internet Of Things For Smart Cities). The ALMANAC project aims to integrate Internet of Things (IoT), capillary networks and metro access networks to offer smart services to the citizens, and thus enable Smart City processes. The platform is built upon a dynamic federation of private and public networks, while supporting end- to-end security and privacy.

An illustration of a smart city  created on November 22  2015.

An illustration of a smart city, created on November 22, 2015.
Capankajsmilyo (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Achieving this is about achieving semantic interoperability of heterogeneous resources, devices, services and data management. In other words, ensuring that all systems that operate the city are data driven and interconnected, with data being reviewed in real time.

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:


United Airlines reported higher quarterly profits Wednesday but announced it would trim US capacity later this year.


Wearing goggles and a wet suit, the 65-year-old city leader swam breaststroke before immersing her face and beginning a front crawl.


A landmark European Union law known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) entered into force in March.


Scientists are remaking the things people want and need using net zero technologies.