How can Smart Cities help the environment?

The view towards technological innovations has shifted from comfort and convenience to pressing concerns of environmental city sustainability. Environmental city sustainability has become a priority in the short future as the world environment faces new challenges from energy preservation, toxic waste, fuel emission, and air quality. In this article, we will explain what a sustainable smart city is and how it can positively impact environment preservation.

What are Smart Cities?

A smart city is a city or an urban area that emphasizes leveraging technologies to enforce better quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services across the city. This model of the city is considered as sustainable as it helps reduce costs and optimize resource consumption.

Such a framework is based on the latest technological trends of Information Technology that collect data from a variety of connected sensors, analyze, and process this data to monitor and manage assets, resources, and services efficiently.

Smart cities aspire to improve citizens’ lifestyle in favor of sustainability through a variety of smart sensors, actuators, computational units, and sophisticated engineering, upgrading day-to-day actions in favor of a sustainable future by improving city waste management, optimizing energy consumption, or reducing pollution through traffic and transportation efficient monitoring. Additionally, smart cities technology is also used to prevent crimes and provide other security services.

How to build a sustainable Smart City?

Sustainability is about deploying smart solutions that can contribute to environmental city health and preservation. There are numerous causes on top of the ecological challenges. Smart cities aspire to address those causes by nullifying or mitigating their effects. Some of the challenges include fuel emission, toxin control, and managing resources such as electric energy, light or water.

The primary issue in addressing these challenges is the lack of traceability across the cities. Without any traceability, there is no way to identify if precautions or solutions are actually effective. That's where smart IoT solutions can provide significant value for smart cities. Smart cities require a sophisticated infrastructure implementation across a wide range of areas. These implementations consist of smart connected sensors, preconfigured gateways, alongside web or mobile interfaces.

Such a collaborative ecosystem offers insight into various parameters of consumption, emission, waste, occupancy, and environmental conditions. However, it is essential to pick the right set of smart sensors, gateways, and networks for such a smart IoT solution. For smart cities, there are some crucial parameters to keep in mind, including power consumption of smart IoT sensors, cost of system implementation, minimum maintenance needs, and communication range from gateways to sensor nodes. LoRaWAN is a network protocol that can suit these requirements, as it provides a wide coverage in indoor and remote areas combined with low power consumption.  

What are the benefits of building a Smart City for preserving the environment?

There are numerous benefits based on the applications that are covered below in this article. Some of the expected benefits of building smart cities with technologies include:

  • Better management of valuable resources available for the environment.
  • Avoiding any waste of electrical power, resources, cost, and time.
  • Traceability to mitigate environmental city challenge before they arise.
  • Healthy city ecosystem to facilitate improvement of environmental conditions.
  • Nullifying or reducing any harmful contributors to the city environment.

What are the challenges of a sustainable smart city?

There have been many attempts across the globe to transform cities with the help of IoT and wireless communication. Yet, there have been several shortcomings in such implementations. Here's a list of few challenges that a sustainable smart city needs to take into consideration:

  • Communication network hassles: one of the most common technical hurdles with smart cities is that the range of communication determines the level of network sophistication. Other communication protocols require layers of nodes to master communication, increasing the complexity of maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Implementation and maintenance costs: a lesser range of communication leads to a higher number of routers and switches, but that's not the only parameter. Several technological infrastructures are impractical for deployments or add massive manual assessment and maintenance costs. These recurring costs and unpredictability defeat the purpose of smart city solutions.
  • Power consumption: the main objective of smart cities is to optimize resources, therefore, we could not have an efficient smart city solution if the implemented embedded system increased power consumption instead of reducing power costs and helping the environment.

LoRaWAN protocol has been widely used as it provides long-range coverage even in remote areas. Furthermore, private networks can be built on demand in almost any area where the public coverage is not available. Finally, as sensors only communicate one or two messages per day, the battery lifetime usually lasts for over 10 years, making this protocol the most cost-effective for large scale projects like smart cities.

Examples of different smart city solutions

Here is a list of some of the most profitable smart city solutions that can contribute to environmental city preservation:

  • Efficient waste management solution:

Poor city waste management leads to lesser recycling of substances and more exposure to harmful toxins. Furthermore, poor city waste management can lead to an increase in the production of non-biodegradable materials. Smart cities can manage waste far more efficiently with the help of a smart IoT system.

Smart IoT solutions for waste management can help strategize better using route optimizations and operational analytics. An ideal smart IoT waste management solution leverages ultrasonic smart sensors along with a communication module. Through these modules, the system can reflect the exact status of the waste management administrations to avoid poor city waste treatment and its effects.

  • Passage monitoring to track the traffic

Often cities suffer from insight towards scarcity and underutilization of resources. The best way to ensure that the right amount of management, facilitation, and resources are implemented is by verifying the audience traffic at the exact spot.

Entities can make the most out of passage monitoring evaluation by deploying an all-around smart building solution on top of it. A complete smart kit would also keep track of temperature, humidity, light, and other significant data in addition to monitoring activities in the people’s passage.

  • Smart street lights to save power:

Smart street lights have been a classic concept for smart cities; however, their adoption has not been as efficient due to electric power and communication constraints. That's where LoRaWAN's properties create tremendous difference and make such a smart city solution feasible to implement across the city. LoRaWAN-based smart street lights can save energy, money, and remove networking complexity from the system.

  • Smart water level monitoring solutions:

Water level monitoring solutions can have several different uses and advantages for the environment. It can help monitor the level of streams in the river, measure the intensity of floods, and can even lead to saving lives in such geographical regions. Here again, Ultrasonic sensor-based water level monitoring systems can offer the best return.

How to make Smart Cities profitable?

Making smart cities profitable is the only way to ensure that an implementation can survive the test of time. To make smart cities profitable, it is vital to manage an inevitable positive return on investment. Smart cities can manage waste, electric energy distribution, disastrous accidents, and other such occurrences through LoRaWAN-based smart city solutions. These smart systems are inexpensive to implement and require minimal maintenance. On the other hand, they create more value over time, making them a long-lasting choice.

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