What are the challenges in creating a Smart City solution?
The ideal of the Smart City is now possible thanks to the IoT and related technologies (wireless networks, connected objects, data, Cloud) used to deliver all of the services it offers (transport, energy, waste, security, health, etc.). While it was considered a utopia a decade ago, today it is a reality in numerous cities around the world and an ambition for many others. From air quality to traffic, energy and waste management, Smart City covers city-wide operations. However, it requires comprehensive understanding of the issues to be managed effectively and securely.
What IoT applications are useful to the Smart City?
The Internet of Things is an essential component of the Smart City for data collection. Using sensors, it is possible to analyse information in real time in order to improve the daily lives of inhabitants. These sensors also help to reduce operational costs and optimise certain aspects of city operations. Among other things, we can identify:
control and optimisation of energy and water consumption.
For example, it is possible to reduce the intensity of urban lighting according to traffic and therefore the amount needed, saving money and limiting waste. In buildings, heating is controlled according to actual needs. In summer, blinds can be controlled automatically to limit or even eliminate air conditioning. In the water sector, a central predictive maintenance system such as Hublo monitors the flow of drinking water, detects leaks on the network and alerts maintenance technicians as necessary.
air quality measurement
In this field, the Smart City has introduced Low Emission Zones, where polluting vehicles can no longer drive. Because regulations and technology can work together, especially for the management of transport flows, and many projects are also moving in this direction, such as the”[R] Challenge” undertaken by the Lyon Metropolitan Area. This call for projects aims to find the best solutions for measuring pollution levels and transmit this data to citizens via a mobile app. Another initiative is the Air to Go app, which provides information on air quality in your area and on your journey, so that you can choose the right means of transport.
Improving traffic flows
Through the management and optimisation of traffic light signals developed by connected solutions, clean vehicles and trams run at the heart of smooth-flowing traffic.
optimal delivery of public services
This strengthens and optimises city activities overall: transport, waste management, safety, even culture and health services.
To achieve this, the city is equipped with multiple sensors that record data in real time and other more sophisticated systems that can be controlled remotely, capable of sending commands and instructions to infrastructure systems. Often, these are legacy systems to which modules have been added to make them connected and controllable.
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What are the difficulties in implementing Smart City solutions?
All of this may seem simple: a sensor that collects data, a computer that processes it and decides to take actions. However, for a Smart City to truly play its role, it must manage a very large number of sensors. In other words, the Smart City is a gigantic pool of data and tools, the retrieval and processing of which cannot be improvised. The key is to be able to aggregate all available data. To which operators should they be made available? Is there any data that we want to be able to analyse jointly? The tracking platform or Cloud is the central element to bring life to the data. The difficulties for local authorities and businesses working to ensure the success of these solutions, lie both in the use of the tools and in the more delicate issues of formatting the data to make it easy to interpret. Here is an overview of the issues involved in designing a Smart City solution:
Physical technical aspects
The first issue will be in the field. Often, the systems to connect are legacy equipment that has been in place for years. So, it must be possible to connect to such equipment. As a result, engineers are regularly confronted with legacy computer systems and specific protocols not designed for IoT. However, there are still ingenious ways to make these systems interoperable. The number of devices to be connected will also be taken into account for operations and operational costs.
Organisational difficulties and ease of adoption
Implementing Smart City solutions requires clear communication with local authorities as well as a significant number of participants and stakeholders. Similarly, many municipal authorities want to be able to use the data and make it available to the general public. All of these issues must therefore find common ground with different degrees of access as well as quick and easy adoption of the management systems.
Similarly, the Smart City can only exist if the security of its data is guaranteed. But the risk of hacking is high: from internal local authority services to sensitive personal data of citizens. Choosing a provider that makes security an integral part of the connected object design process and data processing is therefore essential.
The Smart City concept sometimes involves creating applications for users (for data that we want to make available to everyone). Every citizen could access real-time information on traffic, air quality, ultra-precise weather forecasts, etc. The quality of the user experience is therefore a fundamental issue that brings credibility to the Smart City.
Making a success of your Smart City project: what you need to know
For a company like Rtone, one of the main challenges when it comes to starting a new Smart City project is to learn about and understand the legacy systems of its customers. Information collection may already be in place, or elements may exist in general. But since not all of the objects in question are necessarily connected, it is up to us to do so. To do this, several questions arise:
- What data are we looking for?
- How to obtain the data, in technical terms?
- What exactly would you like to have as information to move forward?
- What data could be added to bring more value to the proposed service?
Why trust Rtone on Smart City issues?
Rtone is deeply involved in Smart City issues, from their conception to the reality on the ground, with solid knowledge and experience as evidenced by its collaborative projects with Lacroix City, Lacroix Sogexi, Parkeon, etc. Our functional skills and the security of our processes are a major asset for Smart City issues. Because we know that each city is an individual project and has its own specific set of issues.
Smart City projects are obviously complex because they require us to build on what already exists to make the city connected. And as a result, new issues are emerging. Each batch of new products raises further questions. But that is what makes this technological and human adventure so exciting. Blossoming but far from complete, the Smart City is really only at the beginning of its potential. Every day, we act on behalf of our clients to maximise the functional and human skills at the forefront of their activities.
Beyond data collection and monitoring, Smart City projects are also fertile ground for new businesses that are emerging as a result of these developments. Today, new jobs are being created, particularly in connected object fleet management. The Smart City is no longer just an idea of the ideal city, but the creation of a city suited to everyone’s needs.