Open data and smart cities solutions that will change the world

Open data and smart cities solutions that will change the world

Smart cities

A smart city is a place where the traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies, for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses. Significant technological, economic and environmental changes have generated interest in smart cities, including climate change, economic restructuring, the move to online retail and entertainment, aging populations, urban population growth and pressures on public finances.

The development of smart cities is increasing, and the proof of this is the number of successful projects implemented all around the world. The most exciting projects are presented in this article.

Intelligent transportation

Intelligent transportation solutions provide traffic analysis and prediction capabilities and a comprehensive, scalable platform for traffic management. Data is aggregated from multiple devices that identify and measure traffic speed and volume on city roads. For near real-time citywide visibility into traffic conditions, data can be captured from different sources such as cameras, radar, and under-road loop detectors, as well as systems based on Bluetooth or mobile phone technology.

Administrative solutions for education

In the current economic downturn, traditional cost management strategies are not enough. Educational institutions must rethink key processes and consider smarter approaches to reduce operational costs in order to direct more resources to instruction and research. Investments in education must be focused on ensuring lasting transformation. Administrative solutions for education from IBM can help educational institutions position themselves for the future.

Financial systems with alerts. Video surveillance and security systems with rules-driven alerts. Energy management systems with sensors. Smarter administration can be accomplished with an instrumented solution, using sensors and alerts to collect and monitor operational data directly from originating sources anywhere on campus.

Virtual Machines for data science

Smarter stadiums solution

From providing fine dining and premium entertainment, to manage security, facilities, concessions, and traffic flow for thousands of people, a stadium functions much like a city. To keep fans happy, stadiums must access an ever-increasing amount of information, facilitate real-time communication and collaborate with external agencies to address problems before they occur. A smarter approach to stadium management can help staff make better decisions, coordinate resources, and anticipate problems and resolve them proactively.

The smarter stadiums solution from IBM takes advantage of the IBM® Intelligent Operations Center to help stadiums achieve a higher level of effective, efficient operations and service delivery. This solution offers integrated capabilities that help expedite quick decision making and enhance the fan experience.

Smart Roads

Monitoring bridges is one of the more successful applications of Smart Roads. For instance, the six-lane, 2.9 km Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge in Greece is outfitted with 100 sensors that monitor its condition. Soon after opening in 2004, the sensors detected abnormal vibrations in the cables holding the bridge, which led engineers to install additional weight to dampen the cables. The sensor networks for these kinds of bridges include accelerometers, strain gauges, anemometers, weigh-in-motion devices and temperature sensors.

Wireless sensors can also be used to monitor the state of road surfaces. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) carried out a research project to detect the number of potholes in a road, using Boston taxis to cover the entire city. A similar approach was undertaken by the University of Sri Lanka to monitor Sri Lanka´s roads.

Food production

Waspmote using sensor networks to maintain monitoring capacity of crop cultivation throughout the production cycle. By combining sensors such as humidity, temperature, and light, the riskoffrost can be detected. Monitoring can ensure prevention of possible plant diseases or manage watering requirements based on soil humidity. This helps to control conditions in nurseries and to closely monitor high performance or delicate crops, such as vineyards or tropical fruit, where the slightest change in climate can affect the final outcome. All of this information can also help to determine the optimum conditions for each crop, by comparing the figures obtained during the best harvests. Given their ease of use and scalability, wirelesssensornetworks can also be used to monitor isolated areas of difficult access, where mushrooms and truffles grow for example.

Smart Factory

Libelium designed a specific application for packaging factory Polibol using Waspmote Plug & Sense and the Meshlium gateway to monitor critical processes, environmental variables throughout the factory, parameters that affect product quality and working conditions.

With Libelium sensor network technology, Polibol monitors air temperature around printing machines and in pipes, light intensity on the final products, and CO2 concentration in the workers' area and in real time, using a PC, tablet, or smartphone and an Internet connection.

Temperature control requires a high sampling rate and high rate of accuracy in the readings. Сosts of maintenance of printing and laminating machines may be high. Ensuring a right temperature control not only reduces the rejection of products but lowers the maintenance costs.

Humidity sensors are necessary because humidity influences the flexibility of some plastics with a high hygroscopic co-efficient, such as polyamides and water-soluble synthetic polymers. Humidity can alter the behavior of the printing inks and affect the final image quality.

Light sensors are needed to maintain a constant luminosity, and are calibrated for color analysis, since color looks different depending on ambient light.

Sensors that can capture Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) readings are very important. In the process of printing and laminating, different types of solvents are used that volatilize during the drying process. Sensors measure VOCs and ensure compliance.

Noise sensors monitor working conditions in the factory.


Open Data

The open data movement is gaining strength every day. The volume of information available in 21st century democracies has made their citizens some of the most informed and empowered people in history. The open data movement is gaining strength every day. With open data, which uses tools like cloud-based technology and APIs, governments can easily provide information to citizens and make data-driven policy decisions. And, they can spend less time and money than ever before to do so.

The following examples show how governments of all sizes can transform themselves through open data:

Transparency and Trust

Since the recession points out Becky Roundtree, the Administrative Services Director for Gainesville, Florida, “the trust in government has declined. Putting the raw data out there shows our constituents that we have nothing to hide.” Exposing expenditures is an effective way to combat Americans’ belief that 51 cents of every tax dollar are wasted, and gain back citizens’ trust.

Time and Money

For the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco, launching an API guaranteed that information on the news and in reports would be accurate — and also sharply reduced the agency’s FOIA backlog. This process also saved printing costs and staff time to process and fulfill FOIA requests.

In Alameda County, California, the savings from their open data portal is easy to calculate. A hackathon led to the idea for an automated invoicing program, which saved the County more than $500,000 annually, while also reducing time spent on scanning and storage.

Internal Collaboration

Freeing data from PDFs and posting it online is just as beneficial for government employees as for residents. In West Sussex, UK, Samantha Mowbray, the council’s head of policy and communications, comments that the portal helped the council have “far more sophisticated discussions” about priorities and goals.

Orbital Insight

By analyzing millions of satellite images at ones, Orbital Insight equips innovative industry leaders with advanced, unbiased knowledge of socio-economic trends. Orbital Insight’s geoanalytics platform transcends individual markets, finding truth and transparency in the ever-expanding supply of satellite images. 

The signals can provide insight for many kinds of businesses and industries.


  • Global Water Reserves - weekly estimates of surface water reserves for any region in the world.

  • China Economic Index - quantifying China’s economic development across more than 30 cities

  • Agriculture - estimating harvest yields throughout the growing season for various crops in countries of interest.

  • World Oil Storage Index - continuous monitoring of global crude oil inventories etc.


By 2050, 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban environments. So smart cities and open data programs will grow and make changes in human life.  According to Business Insider Intelligence, by 2020 some 75 per cent of all cars worldwide will be equipped with internet access and associated software, with global revenues from connected services expected to top $152 billion. And other areas of life will develop no less rapidly.

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