June , 2020
How the internet of things will determine the future of smart cities
18:10 pm

Rajiv Khosla


The United Nations' World Urbanization Prospects ( 2018 Revision) Report highlighted that by 2050, 68% of world’s population will be living in urban areas compared to current 55%. There is a stark contrast between urbanisation trends in high income, upper middle income, lower middle income and low income countries. The population of high-income countries (USA, Australia, Belgium, UK, Italy, Germany, Singapore) living in urban areas was 59% in 1950, which increased to 81% in 2018 and is expected to reach 88% in 2050. Upper middle income countries (China, Fiji, Romania, Iran, Iraq, South Africa) witnessed an unprecedented increase in the percentage of population living in urban areas between 1950 (22%) and 2018 (67%). It is anticipated to touch 83% by 2050. By contrast, a major chunk of lower middle income countries (India, Indonesia, Bangladesh Cambodia, Ghana, Uzbekistan) as well as low income countries (Afghanistan, Nepal, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia) were living in rural areas in 1950, which came down to 59% and 68%, respectively, in 2018. Proportion of population expected to reach urban areas by the year 2050 in lower middle as well as low income countries will be 59% and 50% respectively.

To ascertain the optimum management of urban infrastructure through reduced costs and energy, policy makers are increasingly associating the concept of disruptive technologies or the internet of things (IoT) with smart cities. In simple terms, smart cities are expected to use IoT devices like sensors, lights and meters, which are mutually connected and the data so generated rolls out the analysed information for decision making.

Smart homes

·         Smart TVs connected with internet, on the basis of historical data will automatically display news, sports, videos or the music channels at fixed time periods.

·         Smart lighting and air conditioning systems will detect occupants in the room and start functioning. Also, lighting will be adjusted as required. In addition, smart thermostats will monitor the outside temperature and accordingly regulate the home temperature.

·         Smart locked doors and windows will detect the arrival or departure of residents and when they are near get opened up or locked accordingly. Forced breaking of door or windows will flash message to the police control room as well as to the owner (who can access on his mobile camera, if there is any event of trespassing).

·         Smart refrigerators will automatically send signals to the pre-selected online stores for the replenishment of food items like fruits, vegetables, cheese, milk etc.

Smart vehicles 

·         Sensor embedded in a vehicle will remit signal to the driver at designated time asking him to switch on the ignition and let the vehicle warm up before driving.

·         Sensors will automatically detect the real-time updates of traffic flow, selecting the best alternative route to reach the destination.

·         Vehicle to vehicle sensors will mechanically determine the distance to be maintained between two vehicles. Even the speed limit at different roads will be governed and in case, the vehicle is seen going beyond the permitted speed, automatic brakes will apply or slow it down preventing accidents.

Smart infrastructure

·         Smart lights which will brighten up when there are passers-by and will get dim when no one is on the road.

·         Smart traffic signals, if there is less rush of vehicles, will hold red signal for lesser duration.

·          IoT enabled devices will detect the misuse of lights and over usage or overflowing of water thereby ensuring lesser wastage of resources.

·         Regular monitoring of air-quality will help to provide information about the air and the source of pollution is also indicated. It will help to keep the environment clean and citizens healthy.

·          Use of IoT in industry will help industry create intelligent equipment. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enable companies to ship the products to its customers anticipating the need for replacement based on their past purchase record.

·         In context of waste collection, the households will have to dispose the waste at a nearby big bin, attached with censors, kept in the pit When a certain amount of waste is emptied into them, waste disposal companies will get a message and they will take it to a place where waste is processed or so on. Thus, overflowing of bins thereby creating stinking conditions will get avoided.

Smart health sector  

·         A digital watch worn by its owner will assemble information about his health like blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and store it too. In case of any emergency, information on urgent basis is shared with a nearby hospital and the doctors from the data stored in the watch can easily have an access to the health records of the patient without undergoing lengthy tests.

·         Information about the patient can also be remitted to the insurance company from where the patient has purchased insurance. The insurance company then catches the hospital records related to the tests of the patient. Finally, insurer processes this information and verifies it once again from the concerned hospital records.

Smart parking

·         Here, sensor will reflect signals to the mobile phone of a person looking for a parking lot for his vehicle in a particular area. Regular update about the free parking space and parking map will flash on the mobile phone of the needy allowing the driver to find the ideal parking spot

·         Notifications regarding the elapse of time until which the parking space is booked will also reach the driver of the vehicle. Further, in case, some shopping store has to pay the charges of parking, the same message will flash at the designated store for payment.

The above projections have started coming true in some of the western countries. Though for developing countries, today it seems to be a distant dream, yet, in future, the same get incorporated, though slowly.

Dr. Rajiv Khosla is Associate Professor in Institute of Management, DAV College, Chandigarh

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.