Cities and Homes are getting smarter and smarter. People living in these cities actually demand that there are more services presented by the local government. It needn’t be necessary to go to the city administration for standard tasks but these tasks can be done online. A key driver for smart cities is e-government. But there is much more to that than just e-government (which, in fact, has been around for years)
Cities need to get smarter. This happens on various things. The city can automatically adapt to new developments such as stronger traffic in a certain area. If more people would like to go to a specific area (maybe because there is an event), the public and private transport will automatically adapt to that. As of the private transport, cars are often driven “automatically” in an smart city. There is no driver (this will be described later on). This gives some interesting opportunities: cars communicate with the city where they want to go. The city has an overview over all desired destinations and can adapt in real-time to challenges that might arise. In case that a destination is highly demanded, the city can communicate to individual cars that there might be a traffic jam and prioritize cars or select alternative routs so that no car ends up in the traffic jam. It could also happen that there is different charging: e.g., if you want to get somewhere fast, you might have to pay little more. A very similar system can be found in Singapore, where you have to pay for using streets based on traffic and time. This can significantly lower the private transport and make the city “cleaner” and give inhabitants less stress. Some people might even decide to select the public transport instead. Furthermore, the private traffic could become public: companies might offer their cars to individuals, just like taxis but without drivers.
Of course, this needs a lot of technology in the background. Real-Time systems have to be available and complex calculations have to be done. Smart Cities need Big Data and Cloud Computing in order to provide all of these things.
A similar story can be seen with Smart Homes. More and more home automation is underway. Google’s Nest and Apple’s HomeKit are big bets for the companies and this emerging market. Future homes are highly connected and optimized. When the home “is not in use” – e.g. children are in the school, parents at work – the home stops heating or just keeps it at a low level. Before they come back home, the house starts to heat up again to achieve the required temperature (or vice versa: the home chills down for those living in warmer regions). The home itself can be opened simply with the smartphone and devices within the house are connected as well. There are sensors for elder people that prevent danger and advanced surveillance systems protect the home from unwanted visitors.
As with smart cities, this also requires a lot of back-end technology that is delivered via the cloud and uses big data technologies.