Aeris Blog

Smarter Cities: How IoT Applications Are Raising the Standard of City Living

November 21, 2018

Much has been written about smart cities and the IoT frameworks and applications that make smart cities work. Smart meters, smart traffic lights, and smart utilities are well established technologies used by cities and governments around the world, but what about the lesser known technologies that enhance living standards in more subtle ways? Trash systems that sort out recyclables for you? Instantaneous crime detection and reporting? How about technology that cuts out those minor inconveniences that add up over time, such as finding parking or waiting on an elevator? These technologies already are contributing to cleaner, safer, and more organized living in smart cities around the world.   

Trash that Takes Itself Out

Songdo, South Korea does not have trash bins lining its streets. Instead, it has an interconnected network of pneumatic tubes that collects waste from every apartment and business building. Once trash enters this network of tubes, recyclables are detected and sorted automatically, and some trash may even be burned for fuel. Songdo’s smart trash system has led to a 76.3% recycling rate in the city, one of the best recycling rates of any city in the world. The system is so efficient that it requires only seven employees to operate, allowing the City of Songdo to raise its total standard of living while lowering its carbon footprint and operational budgets.

While Songdo has built a smart waste network into the city itself, companies like Bigbelly are using smart trash technologies that make the most of already established waste disposal networks. Bigbelly trash cans alert trash collectors when a bin is full so that trash collection routes can be efficiently planned on a day-to-day basis. In congested cities, like Manhattan, where traditional trash receptacles fill up fast and bags of garbage collect on the side of the street, Bigbelly’s IoT-enabled trash cans have led to a more efficient trash collection process and cleaner streets for residents, workers, and visitors to the city. 

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Crime that Reports Itself

How safe a city is drastically impacts its standard of living. ShotSpotter automatically detects gunshots so that first responders can arrive as quickly as possible to assess the situation, protect people, and apprehend shooters. Since 2015, ShotSpotter applications have been installed in cities from California to Massachusetts.

ShotSpotter has had the biggest impact in the State of New York, where police departments have installed hundreds of gunshot-detecting sensors on rooftops and street lamps in high-crime urban areas. The moment a gunshot is detected by sensors, proper authorities are alerted to the location of the shooting, the number of bullets fired, and an audio recording for identification purposes. This data not only allows law enforcement and emergency services to react faster, but also allows them to plan for the severity of the situation and use the services necessary for each individual incident. According to a year-over-year study by ShotSpotter, since its program has been implemented in New York State, the City of Brentwood has seen a 38.4% decrease in shootings overall, and the City of Huntington Station experienced a 50% drop.

A City that Orchestrates Itself

The daily annoyance of waiting for an elevator or parking space adds up, and it affects productivity and efficiency in cities and businesses across the globe. According to a 2010 study by IBM, New York City residents, as a whole, spent 16.6 years waiting for an elevator in a single year. A large part of that wait time comes from elevators simply being down for maintenance. Smart elevators, such as Thyssenkrupp’s MAX elevator, provide pre-issue maintenance reports so that building managers are made aware of operating problems before an elevator breaks down. This means that elevator repairs can be scheduled during low-traffic hours and that major repairs that leave elevators inoperable for days can be prevented.

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In early 2016, London announced its plans to research smart public parking options across the entire city. In a city as big as London, smart parking could increase parking revenue by efficiently filling more metered spaces. IoT sensors installed on individual parking spots could alert drivers of their vacancy through an app. Smart parking is not just good for the city’s revenue, it also mitigates the frustration of driving in circles looking for a parking space. And it gets drivers and passengers out of their vehicles and on their way faster than before.

Interested in making your city smarter with IoT? Contact Aeris to find a solution that works for your applications, now and into the future.

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Kevin Petschow
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