The Internet of Things (IoT) is already chalking up successes in improving lives of urban citizens. Here are a few ways in which IoT helps to address the issues that challenge every city. All of the technology is proven and available today. To accelerate adoption, we need to show a little initiative in our homes and ask our businesses and city leaders to do likewise.

Growth stresses infrastructure

We cannot continue to build ever-expanding flat cities with wider and wider freeways that are empty more than they are clogged. It costs too much and takes up too much land. We’re not prepared to spend more and more time commuting.

We have no choice but to build cities with higher population densities and higher buildings.

These reconfigured cities reduce transportation distances, infrastructure cost, energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Such cities make informal carpooling feasible, improve bus loading, rely more on taxis and grow the use of formal ride-sharing. These advances all depend on a myriad of IoT sensors to monitor transportation delivery and optimize energy consumption.

Climate change drives energy efficiency

We cannot continue to consume more fossil fuel energy per capita with its associated volume of greenhouse gases that produce adverse climate changes.

We’re prepared to reduce our energy consumption, but we also want to minimize any associated cost increase. We definitely don’t want to sacrifice much quality of life along the way.

Energy efficiency improves by better insulating homes and buildings that operate local solar electricity generation and smarter temperature management. Making intelligent use of the electricity requires IoT sensors to regulate generation, consumption and operate the smart electrical grid to distribute the surplus.

Global competition for talent requires vibrant cities

We like to work and play with interesting and talented people. We don’t understand it when our city can’t attract talent like other cities apparently can.

We want our city to build its appeal by strengthening its advantages including economic growth, post-secondary education, sports, tourist appeal, culture and recreation.

Achieving these lofty goals requires multi-stakeholder cooperation and coordination to contain development and operating cost for the requisite facilities and programming. Containing these costs leads to multi-stakeholder use that requires coordinated scheduling and advanced technologies to contain operating costs. These goals in turn require a superior telecommunications and automated systems that both require many IoT sensors.

Citizens expect electronic service delivery

We are not prepared to stand in long lines for uneven city service delivery. We don’t understand why we can’t have 1-Click government transactions when we can have 1-Click buying at Amazon.

We’re keen to use our smart phones to access city services such as emergency response, licenses and permits or query data about taxes, traffic or swimming pools.

This shift to an electronic service delivery model offers the ability to improve service while reducing cost. The emerging model requires a significant investment in computing infrastructure that is dependent on real-time data from many IoT sensors.

Taxation limits demand operational efficiency

We are not prepared to support an unending series of annual city tax increases. Asking the rich to pay more is likely an illusion. Consuming services now and expecting our children to pay is morally indefensible.

We want our city services such as education, emergency services, snow removal and street maintenance to become significantly more efficient.

The only way to limit tax increases likely involves a major technology upgrade that will deliver improved services for less money. Most efficiency improvements are highly dependent on near real-time performance data collected by many IoT sensors.

Can you share more ideas for how IoT applications can deliver benefits that will improve the lives of urban citizens?

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