Smart Cities: Safer, Productive and Sustainable Living

People are moving to cities at never-seen-before rates, putting real estate at a premium and magnifying the need for clean air, water and renewable energy resources. Right now, 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and by 2050, it is expected that number will increase to 68 percent. Balancing the complexity of rapid urbanization while maintaining quality of life for residents and visitors is a critical challenge for urban planners and governments. The goal is to create smart cities that are safer, more productive, more sustainable, and ultimately, more connected.

There is no one consistent definition of what is a Smart City . The city governments want efficient systems to run cities safer, provide better services to their citizen and improve ease of citizen engagement. Citizens on other side want new technology to improve quality of life, reduce digital divide and make cities safer and productive. The rise of smart cities is not only preparing the world for how people live in the future, but it is also changing how governments, municipalities, businesses and people interact with and exchange information. Cloud technology, in particular, helps provide real-time information sharing to create high-value actionable insights, improve city operations, increase the quality of life for residents, and facilitate economic growth.

Supporting the infrastructure and implementation of smart cities is a natural evolution for Honeywell. More than 130 years ago, the company invented a furnace regulator that revolutionized the future of home heating. From home heating, we moved to supporting the infrastructures of the commercial buildings that make our cities. Honeywell technologies are integral part of city infrastructure like Airports, Metro stations, Hospitals, Universities and iconic landmarks. Today, we look to a future with cities that have massive scale and opportunity to use IoT connectivity and data-driven insights to address their subsequent challenges.

Making cities safer

A city can’t be considered smart if its residents don’t feel safe. A significant area of growth is IoT-enabled city-wide security and surveillance systems that can be operated from purpose-built integrated command and control centers (ICCC). Integration is key for this concept. Cities achieve the most impact when systems are connected and data analytics are used to drive intelligent processes.

For example, Honeywell is partnering with the Administrative Capital for Urban Development and MTI to deploy advanced smart city security and surveillance systems in the new Cairo, Egypt administrative capital to deliver a globally proven ICCC. The ICCC will bring together advanced IoT software and hardware solutions to provide one common operating picture that delivers unified public safety services, coordinating security response units, city police and medical dispatch. The control center will also connect video feeds from more than 6,000 IP cameras over a futureproof wireless network, and run advanced video analytics to monitor crowds and traffic congestion, detect incidents of theft, observe suspicious people or objects, and trigger automated alarms in emergency situations.

New Cairo will set global standards in urban expansion and smart city development. It will redefine smart city living based on the principles of safety, security, productivity and sustainability. Honeywell is implementing similar scope programs working with city governments across India and have major engagements in other Asian countries.

Making cities more productive

Smart cities help tech savvy residents accomplish more in less time with day-to-day processes, transportation and even healthcare. Using robust web-based platforms, it’s easy to streamline government and commercial processes and procedures via e-services such as identity management procedures, permits, renewals, licenses and bill payments.

Traffic congestion and transportation are pain points for anyone who lives in an urban area. In a smart city, cameras, sensors and drone platforms can provide data that can be used to help reduce transit times. IoT technology can also optimize transport systems to help identify the shortest possible commute to help reduce congestion and support intelligent parking systems to help motorists find coveted parking spaces. Solutions like these can also reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.  

Making cities more sustainable

Cities consume very large amount of all global energy. IoT-fueled technology helps deliver some of the sustainability and energy efficiency goals of local municipalities. These IoT technologies enable smart and efficient buildings while promoting sustainable urban and economic development. Lighting alone accounts for an average of 30 to 40 percent of municipal electricity budgets. IoT-enabled intelligent street lighting systems can automatically dim lighting in parking lots, pathways and public venues when they are unoccupied. This data-driven functionality is linked to several inputs including response to traffic volume, time of day, special events and pedestrian crossings. Data from smart metering and smart grid projects will also help users to better understand and control their energy consumption.

A lot needs to get done to enable cities with these technologies. Public Private Partnerships are on rise to deploy these technologies and enable city get to better future. The connected opportunities for smart city solutions are limitless. As technology evolves, the opportunity to make every city more productive, safer and more sustainable will exist for both existing and emerging cities. Honeywell is working to use these technologies to help create actionable insights that city authorities and municipalities can use to improve their situational awareness, economic development and quality of life for residents. The goal is to create smart cities that people and businesses want to call home.

Vimal Kapur is CEO and president of Honeywell Building Technologies