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Bringing the smart city to life in Asia

Ben Elms | March 25, 2015
Before making the move to smart city infrastructure, urban planners need to take a long, hard look at what they are hoping to achieve, where they can expect quick wins, and what it takes to get smart systems up and running.

Municipal services are another area where smart city technology can deliver quick wins, particularly in waste collection and street lighting. To combat overflowing refuse bins in Seoul, a smart version boasting a solar-powered compacter and M2M connectivity has been created by Korean Ecube Labs, holding four times more waste and enabling the bin to be monitored remotely. But more importantly, notification can be automatically sent out when it needs to be emptied. Since rolling out the smart refuse bins, the Seoul municipal council has effectively reduced its waste disposal workload by around 20%, thanks to the fewer refuse collection trips. This also means lesser fuel consumption, which is not only more cost-effective, but beneficial for the environment.

A smart city also knows how to control its street lighting. In fact, it is estimated that up to 80% of electricity consumed by street lighting can be saved using a combination of efficient lighting (such as LED) and better controls. Japan has been a pioneer in smart and adaptive street lighting systems, with many of its cities piloting such solutions as early as the year 2011[6]. In Hiroshima[7], switching high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps to dimmable LEDs has effectively reduced per-lamp electricity usage by over 50%, yielding nearly 120kg savings in CO2 emission per year, and is expected to save around US$240 per year per lamp. Furthermore, by analysing weather and traffic patterns via a connected central management system, an additional 20% to 30% savings can be achieved too.  This is besides the advantage of real-time monitoring via M2M connectivity, allowing faulty street lamps to be quickly and easily identified, thereby increasing public safety and minimizing maintenance expenditure.  

What are the technical requirements for the proposed smart city project?

The smart city is in most cases based on M2M communications, with devices and machines connected through intelligent networks, enabling them to exchange data with each other and with municipal IT infrastructure or a central application portal. It is relatively easy to start small, and install a solution that integrates well into existing structures. That said, building an M2M solution in an urban area can be complex. It usually involves multiple devices, networks and applications, often from multiple suppliers. Councils are therefore well advised not to go it alone, and should get expert advice on board to make the smart city project a success.

Getting the smart city right: good advice and a competent provider

An end-to-end solution from a single provider can be the best approach for municipal personnel who simply do not have the time or expertise to ensure smart city services are designed and operated in the best way to serve their aims - be it to provide better public services, reduce costs or carbon emissions, or make the city a better place to live. A solution that includes M2M terminals, fully managed connectivity, M2M platform management as well as full support to make M2M simple may be the best way forward to the smart city.


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