According to Gartner, by 2020, twenty billion “things” will be connected to the internet, sending data all over the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) has the ability to completely change the way cities run once they are a part of the infrastructure of our spaces.

Smart cities” is the term used for cities that are filled with internet-connected devices and sensors that analyse information across the city’s infrastructure. Everything from data on weather and traffic flow to road conditions can be gathered and used intelligently. The impact of this type of intelligence can transform the way municipalities and government are able to offer services to city residents.

For example, consider what could be achieved when sensors are able to identify sections of road that require maintenance. Over time, this data could even highlight intersections that would benefit from extra traffic lights or it could guide transit authorities to customise traffic schedules based on information from travellers.

Driving the rise of smart cities are more affordable and streamlined sensors, as well as improved access to high speed Internet and cellular networks. Faster data transfer and advanced sensors with increased capabilities enable IoT devices to interact with everything from vehicles and phones to fitness trackers and road networks.

Across the globe, cities are becoming smarter. Barcelona, for example, has already used technology to improve their bus system by enabling authorities to optimise routes and schedules based on live data. In Greenwich, London, as well as Tallinn, Estonia, driverless busses are being used. Many governmental departments in Singapore are using a variety of IoT sensors to improve their public transportation network, publicise vacant parking spots and even provide up-to-date information on flood levels.

Increased connectivity is making cities smarter, safer and easier to navigate. These cities have the ability to improve the day-to-day lives of citizens at every level, from relatively trivial concerns to potentially preventing natural disasters or detecting flood threats before they arise. Better infrastructure will also lead to improved productivity and better profits for businesses, something that the corporate world will welcome with open arms.

“The Internet of Things is changing cities, and it also has the potential to change the way the built environment operates. It’s fascinating to consider how engineers and designers will have to rethink the way they create everything from buildings to bridges in order to incorporate smart, connected devices,” says Roxanne Mancini, Editor of FLOORS in Africa magazine.

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