• Cities around the world are turning to technology and advanced networks to help them manage resource constraints.
  • And with about 65% of US internet users feeling at least somewhat comfortable with the idea of living in a smart city, adoption of this technology will only continue to grow in the coming years.
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As populations and urbanization rise in the coming years, many cities may turn to technology and advanced networks to help them manage resource constraints. In particular, cities could increasingly turn to a section of the Internet of Things (IoT) known as smart city solutions.

By 2025, there will be an estimated 3.74 billion IoT connections worldwide. - Insider Intelligence
By 2025, there will be an estimated 3.74 billion IoT connections worldwide. Insider Intelligence

What is a smart city?

Smart cities use IoT devices such as connected sensors, lights, and meters to collect and analyze data. The cities then use this data to improve infrastructure, public utilities and services, and more. 

Below, we’ve outlined how smart cities provide a more efficient and higher quality lifestyle for their residents, and the methods they use to reach these goals.

Smart City Technologies

Smart city devices work to make everyday tasks easier and more efficient, while relieving pain points related to public safety, traffic, and environmental issues. Here are some of the most popular smart city technologies: 

Smart utility meters

A top IoT device among utility companies is the smart meter. These devices attach to buildings and connect to a smart energy grid, allowing the utility companies to manage energy flow more effectively.

Smart meters also allow users to track their energy consumption—leaving a significant financial impact. Insider Intelligence expects utility companies to save $157 billion by 2035 due to smart meter adoption and implementation.

Smart transportation

Connected vehicles have made their way to the forefront of public transit—and the efforts have already started to bear fruit. Insider Intelligence projects US connected cars will make up 97% of  the total number of registered vehicles by 2035.

Specifically voice search and location data capabilities are attractive to drivers, and as smart applications continue to evolve and grow, so will the adoption of smart transit. 

Smart grids

Arguably the greatest implementation of smart architecture and infrastructure is smart grids, which help tremendously with resource conservation. Amsterdam, for example, has been experimenting with offering home energy storage units and solar panels for households that are connected to the city’s smart grid. 

These batteries help lower stress on the grid at peak hours by allowing residents to store energy during off-peak hours. The solar panels also let residents sell spare energy from the panels back to the grid.

Smart waste management solutions

Waste management is both costly, inefficient, and can cause traffic buildup. Smart waste management solutions can alleviate some of these pain points by monitoring how full trash cans are at a given point and send that data to waste management companies, providing the best waste pick-up routes.

Some smart waste bins, like the EvoEco, have the ability to tell users which items should be composted or recycled and can even show messages that share how much an organization can save by recycling.

Smart air quality monitors 

There are constantly air particles, dust, dirt, cleaning chemicals, floating around in the air of one’s office building or home. Smart air quality monitors can detect these particles and inform users of pollutants. 

Monitoring indoor air quality (IAQ)  can better alert people of unsafe pollutant levels via an indicator light or push notifications to one’s smartphone or tablet.

Smart City Examples

Europe is leading the world in smart city development. The EU has been proactive in encouraging its member nations to develop smart cities, and the European Commission has allocated 365 million euros for this purpose. 

Comparatively, North America has lagged behind—even though it is the most urbanized region in the world. Still, there are plenty of smart city projects up and running in major North American cities, specifically with regard to public safety and traffic.

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French firm Vincent Callebaut Architectures developed a proposal for multiple high-rise buildings with positive energy output (BEPOS). This plan followed the Climate Energy Plan of Paris aimed at reducing 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

Learn more about the Paris Smart City 2050 project


In 2014 Westminster, London deployed a smart parking project, SmartPark, that allows drivers to quickly locate parking spaces and remove the need for lengthy searches for an open spot. This, in turn, alleviates urban traffic congestion. 

Learn more about Westminster’s SmartPark project. 


Copenhagen is trying to become the first carbon-neutral smart city by 2025. Its Nordhavn district uses heating and smart-grid integration to show how electricity and heat, energy-efficient buildings, and electric transport can be integrated into one energy system. 

Learn more about Copenhagen’s EnergyLab Nordhavn.

New York City  

New York City is piloting a connected vehicle (CTV) project to help NYC eliminate traffic related deaths and reduce crash related injuries and damage to both the vehicles and infrastructure. The CTV infrastructure is primarily focused on safety applications—relying on vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, and infrastructure-to-pedestrian communications. 

Learn more about New York City’s connected vehicle project

San Francisco 

San Francisco implemented a pilot program, the Smart Traffic Signals Pilot, that will explore the use of Multimodal Intelligent Traffic Signal Systems, Dedicated Short Range Communication, Transit Signal Priority, and Emergency Vehicle Preemption technology to improve safety, reduce collisions, and decrease emergency vehicle response times.

The Future of the IoT and Smart Cities

The potential of smart cities is nearly limitless, and the growth of these cities should only accelerate in the coming years. But this is not the only area that the IoT will profoundly change in the near future.