Professor Philip James

Newcastle University

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It is estimated 60% of the global population will live in urban areas by 2030

The term ‘smart cities’ means utilising data and technology to enable cities to become more efficient, further economic development, improve sustainability and enhance the quality of life for residents. The Internet of Things, a network of physical connected devices, provides the core technology to enable the development of smart cities.

With more of the global population moving to live in urban areas every-year, estimated to be 60% by 2030, adopting this technology in order to provide environmental, financial and social benefits is hugely important.

This could be incorporated across many areas of city management from traffic, lighting and parking, to air quality, security or climate monitoring. Pitch-In worked to address barriers to the update of this technology across a number of areas:

  1. Air quality monitoring: using electrical and electro-mechanical devices to gather comparative data with other proven and more established methods. This may enable source attribution in a dynamic environment so that behaviours in managing traffic movement and flow might be optimised.

  2. Computer vision: counting individuals and vehicles moving throughout the city environment using CCTV and associated vision software. The Urban Observatory is counting people and will monitor movement of people to develop understanding of origin-destination of journeys, by all modes. Associating people movement with air quality will enable monitoring of exposure to pollutants.

  3. Weather/climate: Using water quality and flood monitoring data supplied from the Urban Observatory to Research Councils UK (RCUK) funded projects such as ‘Flood-PREPARED’ where predictions based upon data supplied were carried out. The National Green Infrastructure Facility: experiments specifically around drain performance with a national utility company to monitor green infrastructure and attenuation which may have the effect of delaying water entering the wider drainage network.

  4. Biodiversity: monitored beehives are currently deployed providing information about the hives and movement of bees, hive temperature and a number of other parameters such as noise. It is hoped that the monitoring of the movements of birds and bats will also become available.

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