IoT for Smart Cities

  • Post last modified:24 February 2023
  • Reading time:21 mins read
  • Post category:Technologies
Coursera 7-Day Trail offer

IoT for Smart Cities

For a city to become smart, it requires smartly managing the various resources such as water, energy, and other natural resources as well as taking smart care of transportation, infrastructure, etc. so that there will be a growth in investment, trade, jobs, economy, education, living standards, etc. The foundation of such growth should be such that it is sustainable. Cities should be enabled in such a way as to smartly manage the existing capacity, resources, and infrastructure.

The various factors that should be taken into consideration for a smart city project are:

  • Infrastructure
  • Economy
  • Mobility
  • Environment
  • People
  • Living
  • Governance

A smart city monitors and aggregates the existing facilities and resources to provide better infrastructure and improved services. It should be equipped to better manage its roads, rails, airports, bridges, subways, tunnels, ports, communications, energy, water, buildings, public utilities, etc. A smart city can provide suitable services to its citizens in a better and more enhanced manner by optimizing its capacities and resources, maintenance activities, security, governance, etc.

A smart city should fuel economic growth, provide a conducive environment, affordable healthcare, housing, education, and transportation and improve the standard and quality of life. It should make use of the latest information and communication technologies in daily life and work environment to bring social progress and comfort, equity, and prosperity.

Some of the important elements in a smart city are:

  • Connectable
  • Accessible
  • Ubiquitous
  • Sharable
  • Sociable
  • Visible

The present growth and development should not become a burden and liability for future generations. All these should be done and managed carefully, effectively and smartly to have a sustainable effect. Thus, by the use of IoT-based information and communication technologies, a city can be turned into a smart city that fuels sustainable growth and improves the overall standard and quality of life.

Terminology Related to Smart Cities

In the era of IoT, everyone is talking about smart cities. So first of all, let’s try to understand what a smart city is. A smart city fuels economic growth by smartly managing its available resources and the available infrastructure to give its citizen a better quality and standard of life. All these are done sustainably so that there would not be any burden on future generations.

The various factors that are taken into consideration for a smart city project are:

  • Infrastructure
  • Economy
  • Mobility
  • Environment
  • People
  • Living
  • Governance

For a city to become smart, the city’s infrastructure, economy, mobility, environment, people, and governance should also be made smart. There will be an interconnection among the city’s various entities. These will be sharing data and resources among themselves on a need basis.

Some of the important elements of a smart city are:

  • Connectable
  • Accessible
  • Ubiquitous
  • Sharable
  • Sociable
  • Visible

As mentioned above, the elements of the city should be connected, accessible, ubiquitous, sharable, sociable and visible, etc. Ubiquitous means it should be accessible from anywhere and anytime.

The various terminologies related to smart cities are:

  • Smart energy management
  • Smart water management
  • Smart waste management
  • Smart transport management
  • Smart lighting management
  • Smart education management
  • Smart economy management
  • Smart living management
  • Smart healthcare management
  • Smart housing management
  • Smart environment management
  • Smart investment and trade management
  • Smart infrastructure management
  • Smart resource management

A smart city will have a good plan to service its citizens in a better and more enhanced way by optimizing its capacities and resources, maintenance activities, security, and good, responsible, and transparent governance.

Technology Framework of Smart Cities

The technology framework for smart cities includes a simple methodology for making decisions. It enables the effective development and implementation of smart city initiatives. There are usually two ways that can be adapted for the city’s development:

  • Structured
  • Intuitive

At the lowermost level, we have ICT Infrastructure which generally includes devices, networks, protocols, and procedures. On the next level, we have City as a Platform. On top of it, we have various other entities like smart energy management, smart water management, smart mobility management, etc. for making cities smart.

The framework for a smart city recognizes and identifies the value of the city and proposes solutions for the entire city. There would be an app-based ecosystem that will guide the citizen about government policies and schemes from time to time.

There would also be a feedback mechanism by which the citizen would be giving their suggestions and feedback to the government so that it could act accordingly. There is a technology framework stack commonly known as ‘SMAC’. It stands for Social Mobile Analytics and Cloud.

The technology framework for smart cities consists of various layers such as city objective layer, City indicators layer, City components layer, City content layer, etc.

The layers in the smart city framework indicate the logical flow of data/control among the various entities/stakeholders. The framework also highlights the overall functioning of the city and the respective functions/responsibilities of the various entities/stakeholders.

The smart city technology framework also helps us to get clues/answers for the most pertaining issues/questions regarding ICT, the various components of a smart city, stakeholders, the data flow and interconnection among the various entities/departments, etc.

Smart Components of IoT

In IoT, we can have different types of security such as data security, device security, network security, platform security, enterprise security, etc.


A sensor network helps a city to become more efficient. The city authorities can collect citywide data in real-time and can make better decisions in real-time. It helps the citizen as well as all the stakeholders. Due to the use of sensors, service providers can respond quickly. Because of quick response, not only the time and effort saved but also the overall efficiency is increased.

A platform that is open and innovative and is based on a network of smart sensors enables a city to integrate the various services as a strong fabric and provides a robust infrastructure to the various stakeholders to perform quickly, efficiently, smartly, and in a more sustainable way.

We can use sensors for water management, energy management, street light control, transport management, pollution control, waste management, healthcare, etc. We can form a network of these sensors to form a strong fabric that will enable us to collect the data from various entities in real time and accordingly make preventive as well as corrective actions.


The choice of the microprocessor to be used for the smart city applications mostly depends on the target application and the kind of sense needed. The power requirement of these microprocessors that are meant to be used in IoT applications should be as low as possible. This is so because most IoT devices are wireless and run on battery power.

There are a variety of microprocessors available to be used in IoT applications for smart cities. Some of these will be used to process a limited amount of data such as pressure, temperature, humidity, etc. whereas others will be used to process a vast amount of data such as audio and video.

e microprocessor requirement for IoT-based applications is different from those existing embedded and mobile-based applications. As most IoT devices need wireless connectivity, integrating this on-chip is becoming a norm and a standard practice nowadays.

Data Storage Controls

Smart cities will need to have .a robust control over data storage. As the amount of data generated from a network of smart sensors will be very large and will be continuous, a lot of good and scaleable planning is needed to store the captured data.

The data storage consideration will also be affected by deciding the duration to keep the captured data in the storage. Some of the data may be required to keep as a permanent asset, some may be kept for longer or shorter duration; whereas, some data may be just relevant for the time being and can be discarded after its use.

We can have some processing of data at the device level called edge computing. This will reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent to the cloud. As seen in section 2.4, ‘IoT Architecture’ of Chapter 2, ‘Trends and Characteristics of IoT’, the data can be processed at certain levels so that the amount of data that needs to be sent to the cloud gets reduced. It will also reduce the amount of storage required to store the data and we can have better control over it.

The data storage control should ensure proper data access, processing, maintenance, and ownership rights to have accurate data usage and preservation of data quality and data as property and individual confidentiality and privacy.


Software for smart cities allows you to capture, collect, aggregate, store, process, and analyze data. It also enables us to utilize the insights obtained by processing and analyzing the data to make better and more informed decisions.

The software may have various layers such as the execution layer, external libraries layer and the applications layer. Figure 5.9 shows the software architecture of a smart city ‘StreamApp’.

Embedded Operating System

Embedded operating systems are used in IoT devices. There are many embedded OS available in the market; some are real-time and others are not so real-time. A real-time OS is having one disadvantage. We cannot perform multiple tasks in parallel in real-time OS. Due to this, it becomes hard to have complex layers in real-time OS for simple abstractions.

This is the point where not-so-real-time OS comes into the picture. In the applications requiring mission-critical tasks, we are supposed to use real-time OS. In other cases, we can use not so real-time OS where features and user experience are very important.

Linux is a very popular OS as far as embedded devices are concerned. There are various flavors of Linux from different vendors, especially for IoT devices. For example, the project ‘Yocto’ from the Linux Foundation is dedicated specifically to embedded systems. It creates Linux distributions that are custom-made for the embedded device.

Enhanced User Interface

User interface plays a very vital role in the success of smart city projects. Enhanced user interfaces give citizens the ability to access the various services and solutions offered by the smart city seamlessly and easily. It can be considered one of the gateways to the smart city infrastructure.

With the enhanced user interfaces, smart users can access various services such as transportation, healthcare, education, government plans and schemes, and information about various activities/ happenings in the city at their fingertips. Enhanced user interfaces enable a citizen to do bookings for taxis, buses, railways, flights, hospitals, cinemas, entertainment, sport and various other shows in the city.

The smart user can even give feedback to the government and the respective agencies regarding their offerings, services, plans, and various schemes. Thus, it can be an effective mechanism for obtaining feedback.

What is a Smart Communities?

Smart communities are communities that make use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in their daily lives to improve the standard and quality of life. Smart communities make smart use of the existing resources and preserve them for future generations. They bring change through their active participation and involvement in the city’s planning, execution, and well-being.

Smart communities have a long-term vision and commitment to preserving the available resources, opportunities, economy, cultural heritage, environment, and overall standard and quality of life. Smart communities have a positive attitude and approach toward sustainable development.

They are fair enough in their usage of public utilities, means of transportation and communication, and other facilities. They create equal opportunities for education, employment, and other services. They promote the use of products and solutions based on renewable energy sources and are committed to preserving nature and its resources for future generations.

Smart communities have a strong communication network. They have various interconnected entities like government, law enforcement, and other agencies. The data and services are available at their fingertips. They support building a safe, secure, and sustainable environment and assist in improving the overall standard and quality of life.

The local government will have maximum involvement of the local smart communities in the planning and implementation of the various government policies and schemes. Government may subsidise various works and activities that will benefit the community.

For example, to have a high-speed Internet connection available to the community, the government may subsidise the Internet connection to a social service group or to individuals. It may also give subsidy for purchasing various gadgets, equipments, products and solutions which are of national importance, interest and which encourages the use of renewable energy sources and helps to preserve natural resources.

To have a truly smart community, education also plays a very import- ant role. So, smart communities give more emphasis on a good and affordable education for all. It also encourages the continuing education of life skills and digital education. It also encourages a culture of creativity and innovation.

Energy Management in Smart Cities

Energy management would enable smart cities to have serious implications for economic development, sustainability, and the overall well-being of their citizens. As per one of the estimates, cities use only 2% of the global land but utilize around 70% of the world’s energy. So there is an urgent and immense need to focus on smart energy management in cities.

The increasing use and adaptation of policies and technologies related to smart cities are bringing a fundamental change in the use and distribution of energy. It is also encouraging the use of renewable energy sources and smart grids for energy management.

In smart energy management, we use smart grids to have an automated response to demands. For this, the initiatives like network management, grid management, demand management, etc. are being taken. There is a new concept emerging in the energy sector called as ‘energy cloud concept‘.

It has the potential to transform the traditional energy provision utility model into a completely new model. This new model would incorporate renewable energy sources and generation technologies from the demand side along with traditional assets by creating a dynamic and networked infrastructure.

The smart cities’ planning integrates various energy initiatives may be it small-scale or large-scale, local generation, city-level energy efficiency programs a nationwide infrastructure improvement programs. The cost of energy is increasing globally. This is due to the increase in demand and at the same time reduction in the available resources to generate energy.

We have to use algorithms meant for energy optimization to manage peak demands as well as tariff-based management. The equipment should also be monitored and their energy efficiency should also be improved. It is expected that there would be a 5-10% reduction in energy consumption year on year as a result of smart energy management.

The utilization of energy would be normalized. There would be a reduction in operational expenses as the types of equipment and devices would run optimally.

The serviceability of the equipment, network, and overall infrastructure would also be impacted greatly due to the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and workflow applications and timely alarm and warning systems. The most important effect of smart energy management would be that it would help us to achieve our goal of sustainability.

Article Reference
  • Guinard, D. D., & Trifa, V. M. (2016). Building the web of things: with examples in Node.js and Raspberry PI. Shelter Island, NY: Manning Publications.

  • Lucas, P., Ballay, J., & McManus, M. (2012). Trillions: thriving in the emerging information ecology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Business Analytics Tutorial

(Click on Topic to Read)


Enterprise Resource Planning

Management Information Systems

Project Management

Emerging Technologies

Leave a Reply