In the city of the future, living and getting around will be seamlessly integrated with technology, a phenomenon referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is a very broad term, but to break it down it’s the way in which everything is going to be connected and linked to the internet, which means that interacting with objects in daily life is no longer a one-dimensional experience, but actually an opportunity for data capturing and analytics.
A Smart City then, is one that uses IoT to operate more efficiently, in that the city becomes more attuned to the way people live in it, and can adapt and respond accordingly. This includes managing data on a variety of fronts, from the way you use public transport to the way that waste, noise, pollution and energy are managed and monitored in a growing city. This is important when resources are sometimes strained and by indirect proportion, the population continues to grow. Being a Smart City, is therefore being able to use technology to adapt, grow and respond to challenges more effectively.
Dublin’s Current Challenges
Dublin, by global standards, isn’t a massive metropolis, but it’s the most populated city in Ireland and growing. With political changes in the European Union, and a growing technology industry, Dublin’s population is only set to increase even more, which means that catering for an expanding, and more diverse population, is paramount. Like any other city, Dublin needs to manage waste, traffic and pollution, as well as provide quicker and more streamlined ways of getting around the city, with an integrated network of public transport, for example the LUAS, DART and public bicycle sharing system.
A Smart City approach has been trialled with devices such as noise detectors in certain areas, which can monitor the noise in certain areas, and then enable authorities to respond effectively. In line with EU regulations, there are certain standards that also need to be upheld across the board, and IoT applications help to manage this in a more systematic way, with access to data over time to make sure that trends can be spotted, for example, by linking noise detectors in different parts of the city to get a more comprehensive idea of what causes noise and be able to respond in a more holistic way.
Smart City Strategy
Operating within a political framework like the EU means having to conform to certain criteria and uphold a set of urban regulations, but this also means greater potential for Irish IoT development to be used in other parts of the EU, without being restricted to just an Irish environment, when other countries and cities face the same kinds of challenges when it comes to urban planning and city management. The interconnectedness of IoT also means that there is potential to expand the scope on a global level, which is exciting for local tech firms focused on developing products to enhance urban living.
To get these kinds of developments off the ground, the Irish Development Agency (IDA) has positioned Ireland as a testbed for IoT technologies. Technology giants like IBM have already kickstarted this development with their Smarter Cities Technology Centre and Research and Development Laboratory in Dublin, which tests and implements new technology, with a focus on developing Dublin as a Smart City. Smart Dublin is another local initiative that is actively co-ordinating and amplifying Smart City projects, by bringing together local government and technology firms.
To explore how IoT is being used in Dublin to make it a Smart City, here are some examples:
- Croke Park
Referred to as the world’s first IoT stadium, Croke Park is more accurately a testbed for many of the kinds of technologies which could significantly improve the experience of a public sporting facility in the future. IoT applications that are being tested in the park complex include rain and sewage sensors that can predict and detect flooding in the park (with data from weather stations); a crowd management systems that uses motion detection sensor to track the size and motion of people moving through the park (which helps with managing queues and public transport needs) as well as moisture and light sensors and cameras to monitor the state of the turf inside the park.
2. Public Transport
To better manage public transport in Dublin from an IoT perspective, the city uses a web-based public transit tracking system that feeds data into signs at bus stops and smartphone apps, which allows the public to be constantly in touch with real-time data. This means that congestion can be monitored, and residents can also manage their routes more effectively.
One of the goals of the city is to encourage more cycling as a means to alleviate congestion, by encouraging a different demographic to cycle apart from those who already cycle as a sport. IoT proposals to increase cycling in the city include tamper-resistant sensors to reduce theft, and better management through setting up Bluetooth connections between bikes and smartphones.
3. Waste Collection
Waste collection is a concern in every city, but IoT can provide many solutions to this ongoing problem. These include solar-powered sensors on trash cans that can alert city management if the bins are full. These kinds of data points can also be integrated into a more holistic form of city management, including the management of pedestrian traffic, and as mentioned before, the management of air quality and noise.