Eyes and ears for cities of the future

When is the best time to water a park? When should rubbish be collected? The answer when necessary and to order was, until a short time ago, science fiction. Although currently we can only programme some specific functions, such as watering green zones and urban lighting, installing sensors connected to the same network will allow a city to monitor, in real time, all its elements and carry out tasks only when they are necessary and always when needed. 

These are some of the examples, which can be discovered in the first Smart City Expo & World Congress, dedicated to smart cities and organised by Fira Barcelona, to be held in November in the Gran Via exhibition centre, of how communication infrastructures can improve efficiency in the management of urban services by means of innovative solutions.  The objective of deploying ICT networks and sensorizing the urban framework is multiple: on the one hand, it will make a city more liveable adapting it to the needs of its citizens and, on the other, it will better manage its resources, reducing economic costs.

Smart lighting will connect streetlamps when they detect insufficient light and the presence of a pedestrian in the surroundings, while sprinkler systems will only water a garden if the sensors detect insufficient humidity and when weather radars do not indicate that rain is due, thereby saving water and electricity.

The congress will dedicate the morning of the 29th of November to Information and Communication Technologies (ITC) and to the challenges and possibilities in this field. The architect Carlo Ratti, Director of the Senseable City Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will be the keynote speaker at a session that will analyse aspects such as the analysis of large quantities of data (Big Data), the role of the citizen as “active sensor”, the relationship between the sensorized city and cloud computing, and the ¿Internet of Things’.

The list of speakers includes Jordi Botifoll, Vice President, EMEA-Cisco; Bruno Berthon, Worldwide Sustainability Director, Accenture; Ángel David García, Manager of M2M Strategy in Telefónica; Usman Haque, Founder of the Big Data exchange platform Pacube; and Tobías Martínez, CEO, Abertis Telecom.

Barcelona, 20th of October 2010