Anticipate traffic jams, prevent natural disasters, help in emergency situations or improve the city. Big Data and the Internet of Things are transforming the urban environment. They do it in terms of mobility, infrastructure, energy, health and education to give life to the so-called smart cities. The objective is to achieve sustainable development and, at the same time, increase the quality of life.
Currently, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and is expected that this figure will grow exponentially by 2050. What is being done to make these spaces liveable and sustainable? Experts say that the answer varies according to the city, its needs and its resources.
Any city service which is public like the transport system or the health system can be improved through information technologies, big data and the Internet of Things, and each city will have to analyse what it has to implement. From transport through health, education, housing and even leisure.
The intention is to be sustainable and innovative and to make an important use of these technologies. The final matter of smart cities is that they should not be seen as a product, but as a constant development of a public service.
To become a smart city, it is necessary to bet on an intelligent environment through the use of renewable energies and an intelligent lifestyle with the aid of the digitalization of public administration services. In the midst of this technological revolution, the big data and the internet of things are often the allies of startups seek to provide solutions to the problem of smart cities.
The management of all information and the analysis offered by Big Data, allows to obtain predictions and even recommendations, that are very useful for public agents and the day by day of citizens.
The main source of data collection comes from geolocation applications, which follow the movements and social dynamics where users share their activity in real time. This allows the optimization and reduction of costs of public services such as lighting, garbage collection, the prediction of natural phenomena or the control of pollution levels. The Internet and Social Networks have also been consolidated for a long time as a great source of data collection, both quantitative and qualitative, which allows us to anticipate the tendencies and tastes of citizens based on the study and assessment of the feelings of a large mass of users.
On the other hand, as regards the ‘Internet of Things’, items such as public transport cards, credit and debit cards are used on a daily basis to provide a large amount of information on the movements of citizens and the use of transport routes, control of expenses and security. All these data could benefit the day-by-day decisions of the inhabitants of a city.
In Smart Cities, blocks of flats, schools and parks become smart buildings to measure and obtain information from a global perspective. Some of the areas susceptible to improvement thanks to the use of big data would be the following:
· Citizen security: The effectiveness of the actions of the security bodies could be improved through the correlation of all the information coming from the different systems installed in the city: from video surveillance cameras, geolocation of police cars and firefighters…
· Urban mobility: Through the capture and management of data from cameras scattered throughout the city, sensors installed on buses, meteorological information, data originated in social networks (such as the organization of a demonstration through Twitter …) could be get, for example, anticipate jams and make decisions in real time to redirect the bus route or interact with the network of traffic lights, inform the citizen of the traffic situation and indicate the optimal alternative routes.
· Water management: Through the analysis of the data offered by a network of pressure sensors, pH and water turbidity located in the supply and sanitation systems, as well as surveillance cameras of water treatment plants, it would be possible to detect leaks and control the quality of the water.
· Energy and energy efficiency: Thanks to data from smart meters in homes, data from open data platforms and weather forecasts (which would detect an impending heat wave for example) it would be possible to have a more efficient operation of the electricity grid, so that companies could adjust production to demand in real time.
· Urban waste: Sensors located in the containers that send data relative to their capacity at any time could define the optimal routes of garbage collection in real time by combining the information of these sensors with other data from, for example, citizens who may be expressing their complaints about the dirt of some streets through social networks.
· Analysis of citizen’s sentiment: Possibility of knowing the opinion of citizens and tourists about the city, through the real-time analysis of data from different social networks, the town hall’s website, callcenters … to know which are the priority aspects that are demanding and being able to respond the requests immediately.