In the current information and networking age, the Smart City concept represents a new phase in the next industrial revolution and sustainable city development. The Smart City concept combines the Internet of Things with the latest communication technologies to serve citizens in a smarter manner.
By Yu Sharlene with photographs from TPG – Interview with Ken Yu, Advantech Intelligent Services Vice President
One hundred years ago, the largest city in the world was London, with a population of approximately 6.5 million. However, nowadays, numerous cities have populations of 10 million or more. According to a statistical report by the United Nations, the world’s population is approximately 7 billion, 50% of whom live in cities. This figure is predicted to exceed 65% by 2050. The number of mega-cities with populations in excess of 10 million, such as Tokyo, Delhi, Seoul, Shanghai, Mumbai, Mexico City, Beijing, London, Paris, and New York, has already exceeded 30. The ongoing dramatic increase in population densities places a heavy burden on city infrastructures, local resources, and public security.
A Smart City Leads to Happier Lives
Advantech Intelligent Services Vice President Ken Yu said, “It is very difficult to make life better for everyone because when there are a lot of people living in a city, problems with traffic, healthcare, commerce, education, and public security all increase exponentially.” These problems include commuters having to squeeze onto crowded trains or wait in traffic jams, fake goods and dishonest food practices destroying public trust in manufacturers, and seriously ill patients not having access to adequate treatment or hospital beds. These problems affect everyone and Ken further asserted, “Smart City technologies are a necessary measure in response to urbanization because the services provided by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing reduce inconvenience and improve the urban quality of life, which results in citizens leading happier, more fulfilled lives.
Not all Cities Are the Same
What is a so-called Smart City? What services can a Smart City provide? According to statistics from the market research institute IDC, over 1,000 smart cities are currently in various stages of development. However, because the regional characteristics differ between cities, the initial services introduced in these cities also differ. Thus, some cities are developed to be environmental-friendly by emphasizing energy savings, carbon reduction, water resource management, resource recycling and reuse, whereas other cities emphasize tourism or public transportation. According to Ken, no universally acknowledged standard exists, “We should understand that it is impossible to use the same Smart City blueprint in multiple locations. Additionally, because communication protocol standards may differ between cities, cross-field communication is not viable. The optimal strategy is to deconstruct a city into multiple vertical industries, for example, traffic, medical, retail, and architectural industries. This enables smart service applications to be replicated among regions. For example, the successful establishment of the YouBike public bike sharing system in Taipei City provides an installation example that can be directly referenced for other cities”.
Key Techniques Optimize Smart Services
Although such cities feature different smart applications, the purpose of every application is to increase the convenience and comfort of all citizens and enterprises in the city. Ken asserted that the sensor, network, and application layers of the IoT can completely support all industries in a Smart City; however, many techniques are still required to achieve the final goals of comprehensive sensing, reliable transmission, and intelligent computing. For the lowest layer, compact batteries are crucial for front-end sensing devices. Long-life batteries are required to power mobile nursing carts for example. Regarding the interconnected second layer, Ken commented that, “Wireless transmission has entered the high-speed 4G and 5G generations. However, certain applications cannot tolerate connection interrupts of even 1%; thus to achieve 100% accuracy, a stable and reliable network system is necessary for Smart City applications. Regarding processing in the top layer of the IoT, Ken stated that, “As each industry introduces various innovative, smart applications one by one, the big data sets accumulated will facilitate further discovery.
Working Smarter to Serve the Masses
The ultimate purpose of technology is to serve people. With more innovative discoveries made and new applications developed, Smart City implementations have become opportunities to redesign and reconstruct cities for the current information and networking age. Finally, Ken stressed Advantech’s strategy to continue implement ing its corporate strategy of Partnering for Smart City and IoT Solutions by cooperating with industry partners to develop smarter, more convenient applications, solutions, and services.