Humans now produce more data than ever. The electronic breadcrumbs of 0s and 1s scattered daily hold patterns that reveal the contours of real life. Smartphones, for example, are a massive data source. Globally, there are about 7.7 billion mobile subscriptions - more than the human population - producing streams of information about location, purchases and interests of individuals.
Then, there are automated sensors, used everywhere from traffic and trash management to water systems. These can connect wirelessly to create an Internet of Things (IoT). With such technologies, almost every social, economic and logistical transaction can provide insights into human behavior. Like companies, governments routinely collect billions of pieces of data daily. Savvy cities are using this to gain insights into the modern urban ecology.
Since 2009, Santander on the north coast of Spain has created a network of over 12,000 sensors throughout the urban landscape to perform a staggering variety of services. In public parks, sprinklers automatically switch on when sensors determine the soil is too dry. Lights on paths and road are dim and brighten only when sensors recognize they are being used - this helped cut energy costs by 25 percent. Similarly, sensors in garbage bins inform the sanitation department when they are full, reducing pickup costs by 20 percent.
Santander is far from alone in digital innovation. Louisville in Kentucky (population 1.2 million) has been a world leader on smart cities. It opened itself up to Google Fiber and other gigabit providers in 2017, but was already named as the United States' top digital city as far back as 2012.
More recently, it became the first smart city in the U.S. to implement the IFTTT platform, which stands for 'If This Then That'. This simplifies everyday life by making it possible for smart homes to connect with smart city data through 'applets'. For example, the lights in homes change color when readings detect a decline in air quality, warning residents not to go outside. Users can also set up air filters, so they activate at the same time.
Allianz SE published this content on 08 June 2018 and is solely responsible for the information contained herein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 08 June 2018 11:32:04 UTC