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What Makes a City Smarter?

A look at the challenges of creating smarter cities in the 21st Century. It is taking innovation to completely new levels. Come along as Jason Deign shows us which areas smart city trend watchers might want to keep an eye on in the future.

Jason Deign
December 18 , 2012


In November 2012 Barcelona looked to the future with a Smart City Expo. We thought it would be a good opportunity to find out what makes a city smarter.  

[Josep Maria Aymamí, senior project manager, Aimsun] 

We know that transportation is one of the big challenges that cities are facing right now.   We are still at a stage where we need to gather information from the field, but now this is becoming more and more mature. Cities have been 'sensored' for a long time already; now it's time to apply some intelligence to that.   

[Jesús Heras Rincón, renewable energy division, Energy, Environment and Technology Research Center, Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation] 

[In Spanish] Our objective, above all, is to raise awareness of energy efficiency. We have a department dedicated to energy efficiency in buildings which is having a leading role. First this was about saving energy in buildings, then came district heating and cooling, which saves energy in neighborhoods and districts. And now a third trend, in 2012, is to save energy across cities as a whole.  

[Johan Pedersen, energy harvesting and electronics specialist, Delta IdemoLab] 

To make a city smart, you need a lot of sensors, you need a lot of information, you need a lot of data. To create that data, you need sensors. And a lot of sensors would either require a lot of batteries or a lot of cables everywhere, and that is in many cases not feasible.  So by making the sensors self-supplying with energy, you can achieve a lot more dense-distributed sensor system. That is what we are here for.  

[Pedro Torres Moya, director of marketing, Esri España] 

For this congress, our main proposal is to show the cloud and the GIS cloud can be used for all kinds of organizations.   When we are talking about smart cities, all these kinds of things--transport, health, citizens--all these kinds of things have a spatial variable, a spatial dimension. We provide APIs for developers, maps for all kinds of citizens, that can be used for transportation, for health, for voting, elections, and so on.  

[Juan Pablo Calvo, Smart Save] 

We are showing, to the people in Spain and international visitors, the Big Belly Solar System.  It consists of a bin with a software system to control and to optimize the collection of waste in the cities. We are in waste management but there is a lot of work in lighting.  Also there is a lot of work in mobility and parking systems.   These are the main areas where I think it is necessary to invest more because it helps the quality of the city and also it will save a lot of money.


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