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Internet of Things in Smart Cities

The UN predicts that by 2050, the world’s urban population is likely to double and reach the point of nearly 6.7 million people. As the number of urban residents grows, cities face new opportunities… and challenges. To prevent environmental deterioration, avoid sanitation problems, mitigate traffic congestion, and thwart urban crime, municipalities turn to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Fig: IoT-enabled smart city use cases span multiple areas: from contributing to a healthier environment and improving traffic to enhancing public safety and optimizing street lighting. (


IoT has the potential to tame the pressure of urbanization, create new experience for city residents, and make day-to-day living more comfortable and secure.

But, what is a smart city? Smart cities use IoT devices such as connected sensors, lights, and meters to collect and analyze data. The cities then use this data to improve infrastructure, public utilities and services, and more.

Fig: Smart cities components (×487.jpg.webp)


Smart world is envisioned as an era in which objects (e.g., watches, mobile phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains) can automatically and intelligently serve people in a collaborative manner. Paving the way for smart world, Internet of Things (IoT) connects everything in the smart world.

The IoT can be conceptualized as a configurable dynamic global network of networks.

There are four main components of the IoT:

(1) The Thing,

(2) The local area network (LAN),

(3) The Internet,

(4) The cloud.

The Thing is a sensor, embedded computing device or embedded system which can transmit and receive information over a network in order to control another device or interact with a user. An example of the Thing is a temperature sensor, a microcontroller or a microprocessor-based device. On the other hand, microwave, sprinkler, house, washing machine, or building do not come under the definition of “Thing”. However, the IoT along with these physical entities such as buildings can make a Cyber Physical System (CPS). The “Thing” may perform the following: (1) identification and storage of information, (2) collect information, (3) understand commands, (4) transmit and receive messages, (5) sense, and (6) actuate. The IoT can be used to build smart transportation, smart health care, and energy management in smart cities.

Fig: An example of IoT

Fig: . Internet of Things (IoT) in Smart Cities


A city is a system of systems with a unique history and set in a specific social and environmental context. For a city to prosper, all the key city systems need to work together, by utilizing all of their resources to overcome the challenges the city faces. The “smartness” of a city describes its ability to bring together all its resources, to effectively operate with maximum possible efficiency to fulfil the purposes it has set itself. The smart city is a concept and a variety of definitions exist among academia and practitioners. A smart city can have one or more smart components, including smart transportation, smart grid, smart health care, and smart governance. The Internet of Things (IoT), cyber physical systems (CPS), and Big Data are key technologies in the context of information and communication technology (ICT) critical for the implementation of smart cities. Smart cities with minimal implementation and operation cost are the keys for long-term sustainability. There are several smart cities with some form of smart components operating at present at various parts of the globe. The need for smart cities is increasing day by day with the increase of population as earthly resources are limited. 

A quick look at what it is and how it works:


Table: An overview of the most popular use cases that are already implemented in smart cities across the globe

Road traffic

Smart traffic solutions use different types of sensors, as well as fetch GPS data from drivers’ smart phones to determine the number, location and the speed of vehicles.  At the same time, smart traffic lights connected to a cloud management platform allow monitoring green light timings and automatically alter the lights based on current traffic situation to prevent congestion. Additionally, using historical data, smart solutions for traffic management can predict where the traffic could go and take measures to prevent potential congestion.
Smart parking With the help of GPS data from drivers’ smartphones (or road-surface sensors embedded in the ground on parking spots), smart parking solutions determine whether the parking spots are occupied or available and create a real-time parking map. When the closest parking spot becomes free, drivers receive a notification and use the map on their phone to find a parking spot faster and easier instead of blindly driving around
Public transport The data from IoT sensors can help to reveal patterns of how citizens use transport. Public transportation operators can use this data to enhance traveling experience, achieve a higher level of safety and punctuality. To carry out a more sophisticated analysis, smart public transport solutions can combine multiple sources, such as ticket sales and traffic information.
VIDEO SURVEILLANCE ou Public safety Smart video surveillance isn’t a new concept. In fact, smart surveillance cameras have been around for a long time, and they’re commonly used to police the world’s roads and highways. ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) or ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) cameras are commonly used by law enforcement to identify stolen cars, for traffic control purposes, to collect tolls, and to deter crime in general.
It’s true that smart surveillance cameras are becoming more advanced and may be used to predict crimes before they happen in the future. They may also be able to identify pedestrians and log their movements. However, heavy surveillance methods like these aren’t popular, with many citizens voicing privacy concerns and questioning the use of their personal data.
Street lighting IoT-based smart cities make maintenance and control of street lamps more straightforward and cost-effective. Equipping streetlights with sensors and connecting them to a cloud management solution helps to adapt lighting schedule to the lighting zone.
Waste management IoT-enabled smart city solutions help to optimize waste collecting schedules by tracking waste levels, as well as providing route optimization and operational analytics.
Each waste container gets a sensor that gathers the data about the level of the waste in a container. Once it is close to a certain threshold, the waste management solution receives a sensor record, processes it, and sends a notification to a truck driver’s mobile app. Thus, the truck driver empties a full container, avoiding emptying half-full ones. 
Environment IoT-driven smart city solutions allow tracking parameters critical for a healthy environment in order to maintain them at an optimal level. For example, to monitor water quality, a city can deploy a network of sensors across the water grid and connect them to a cloud management platform. Sensors measure pH level, the amount of dissolved oxygen and dissolved ions. If leakage occurs and the chemical composition of water changes, the cloud platform triggers an output defined by the users.
One example is monitoring air quality. For that, a network of sensors is deployed along busy roads and around plants. Sensors gather data on the amount of CO, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides, while the central cloud platform analyzes and visualizes sensor readings, so that platform users can view the map of air quality and use this data to point out areas where air pollution is critical and work out recommendations for citizens.


You can know more about portuguese strategy to develop portuguese smart cities:



C. Zhu et al.: Green IoT for Smart World, November 3, 2015, date of current version November 16, 2015. Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/ACCESS.2015.2497312, 13/09/2022, 13/09/2022, 13/09/2022, 13/09/2022, 13/09/2022, 13/09/2022, 22/09/2022