What is a "Smart City"?

Smart cities use the cloud to change our lives

The cloud has changed the way we work, and now it’s changing the very cities we live in. You’ve probably heard of the “smart city,” but what exactly is it?

Smart cities are using cloud technologies to improve transportation, public safety, public health, and the environment. Here’s a look at some of the ways the cloud is making cities smarter.


  • Smart Signals

You’ve probably spent some time behind the wheel waiting for a traffic light to change, right? But have you ever stopped to think about how valuable that light can be? At an intersection, a smart signal can collect a large amount of data, including vehicle, bike, and pedestrian counts, as well as traffic speed. It can also be used to provide congestion reports and accident surveillance to the public via an app to make for a smoother commute.

  • Smart Parking

Wouldn’t it be nice to know where there’s an available parking spot when you’re downtown? Through a cloud-operated infrastructure, sensors can process images and provide information on the availability of parking spots through a mobile app. It can also give owners a view of their vehicle while away to ensure its well-being.

  • Smart Lighting

Public lighting isn’t perfect. However, through the cloud, city workers can monitor which lights are needed at what times, offering energy savings that are then passed on to the public. Not only that, officials will also be able to see which lights may be in need of repair (so no more walking through a dark parking lot at night).

Public Safety

  • Crime Forecasting

Cloud-based crime forecasting systems are now helping police departments allocate resources more efficiently by anticipating crime risk within certain areas. Using advanced machine learning (ML), data regarding high-risk locations and times can be calculated, allowing for a more proactive policing strategy.

  • Fire Detection

In a fire, every second counts. Cloud-based sensors can monitor hazardous conditions that could result in a fire, and alert emergency response teams of potential danger before it’s too late.

  • Data Sharing

When it comes to crime prevention, communication is key. Using cloud-based services, law enforcement agencies are able to easily share their data in real-time across departments. This provides faster awareness of criminal activity, wanted individuals, amber and silver alerts, and more.

Public Health

  • Air Quality Monitoring

Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems can suffer when air quality is poor. Smog hangs heavy over cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, but it’s an issue on our shores too. Los Angeles leads the nation in air pollution, with some days worse than others depending on weather conditions. Now, cloud-based sensors can provide accurate, real-time information about air conditions so that those who may be most negatively affected know to stay indoors.

  • Water Quality Monitoring

You’ve probably heard news alerts suggesting you boil your water from time to time, or to stock up on bottled water. Our water systems can become temporarily compromised, and unfortunately the word doesn’t get out until some people are already sick. With cloud-based sensors, water can be consistently monitored, and if there’s any issue, notifications can be sent immediately.

  • Snow Level Monitoring

Here in Florida, this isn’t an issue. But up north, snow can be deadly. Now, sensors can be deployed to monitor heavy build-up on roads and sidewalks, allowing public works teams to target the hardest hit areas to reduce pedestrian slips and driver crashes.


  • Water Control

Water can be wasted, and in areas that frequently experience droughts, this can be troublesome. With cloud-based sensors stationed in parks and other public areas where sprinklers are run frequently, moisture content of the grounds can be analyzed to determine if watering is necessary. In addition, data from weather forecasts can inform sprinklers to not turn on because rain is predicted.

  • Trash Collection

Garbage pick-up once or twice a week isn’t always practical; sometimes we just have a lot of trash. Overflowing waste bins are unsightly, smelly, and can create health issues. With cloud-based sensors, trash collection routes can be optimized to clear the area’s most in need of garbage removal.

  • Energy Management

Lights off! Too often we see buildings with lights unnecessarily glowing. Smart sensors are able to detect this, determine necessity, and shut them off if not needed. This reduces energy wastes, costs, and “light pollution.”

The cloud can sometimes seem like a nebulous concept. Its benefits can appear, well, cloudy. However, smart cities are proving that the cloud is making life better. It’s also bettering businesses, by providing increased data security, data recovery, and more. If your organization is considering a move to the cloud, talk to the IT experts at DSM. We are Florida’s preferred cloud provider, and can help take your business to the next level.

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