Worldwide cities are the new playground of business and entertainment. The population of cities are increasing every year and it is obvious that the shift has turn from rural areas to the cities everywhere. According to a study conducted by the United Nations in 2018 (UN, “The World’s Cities” / 2018), while 55.3% of world’s population lives in the cities today (was 54.3% by 2016), it will be increasing above 60% by 2030. Likewise, the number of cities with a population of more than 1 million is expected to rise from 548 in 2018 to 706 in 2030 (the foresight has been increased by more than 5% since 2016). Mega Cities, with a population over 10 million will be increasing from 33 in 2018 to 43 in 2030 and also possible city fusions to create several Mega Cities will be seen in a foreseen future.
All this brings serious problems and serious opportunities for many sectors to life. If the planning of such cities has been made with normal increases in mind, sudden unexpected changes will put the city administration in serious trouble. As example seen in a near past in Mugla / Fethiye (Turkey). The area is one of the famous summer resorts area in Turkey and receives multimillion domestic as well as international guests. Due to the dramatic change in population between winter and summer (over the 10-fold of the calculated value), pollution in the area is exceed of any plans and causes green algae density on the beach to grow due to waste poured into the sea in summer times. The reason for this is a miscalculation done on population movement (even not considered at all), since the planning of the water treatment of the city has only been based on the CITIZEN in Fethiye rather than all possible movement of tourist or travelers within the year!
Unfortunately, this was only one of many examples and many similar problems will been experienced in the future worldwide, independent from any geographical region. To overcome similar examples and issues, population behavior based on an annual schedule must be taken to account and planned accordingly. Of course, information and data collection are important and technology creates a significant added value for all resources around us.
Some cities in Turkey
Especially in big cities, everyone can see that there are serious population movements in daily life. Focusing on resort and vacation regions, we are experiencing a serious intensity in summer, but decreasing in other seasons and although this intensity decreases from time to time in years, migration from rural areas to city continues in recent years. Due to the fact that they are attraction centers, there is a serious increase in population around major cities.
Looking at the three major cities in Turkey, there is an increase of 50% or more from 2000 to 2018 and according to the United Nations sources will be even more by 2030. The prediction shows that there will be a double increase compared to the amount of population from 2000.
What does this mean for us or our city? Cities which haven’t been planned to cover such an amount of increase in population will confront serious issues in the coming years, such as transportation (private and public), service delivery (electric, gas, water and waste treatment), etc. Most of the infrastructure in cities are aging and needs to be retrofitted and upgraded for new services to come. Nevertheless, investment and funds will be necessary to cover such efforts in the field. We can feel this at our daily city life confronting events such as traffic, streets, crowds, the cue that we are waiting and so on. There will be definitely some new efforts necessary to keep the city a place where everyone of us can live, breathe and work.
Technology will lead the way for us
To keep the cities a place where we can live, work and still breathe, we need to use new emerging technologies and make the city a SMART place for us. The topic of SMART CITY might be different in definition and expectations, based on the region and countries where we are living. All the different examples we have seen has one thing in common; the use of technologies. Main focus on the technologies will be in Information Communication Technology (ICT). Pure ICT will not be enough since we need the human edge and a management of the components we bring into the city. Also, we need to remember the interoperability between different systems and solutions will be another important building block of a smart city.
Most of the use cases that we have seen and would be implemented in ease (fast roll out, quick-wins etc.) for Smart Cities will be not limited to lighting solutions, waste collection and treatment, water solutions. Some other use cases like transportation (private or public) on road, water ways and rails as well can be considered, but even harder to implement due to the complex nature of the services.
Every municipality and big city have a lighting system transformation ongoing. The transformation activity will not be that different from region to region or even from country to country. Main action will be the replacement of traditional bulbs with LED’s which will enable a 20% to 40% decrease in costs starting from day one. Turkey also did start this EASY transformation in almost every city and province all over the country.
Cities which takes the approach a bit more serious also looking into the surrounding of the lighting poles, by using sensors to control and manage the lighting system remotely. Even more control and management can be achieved by focusing on the up-times of the LED’s, checking against the atomic clock inside the cabinet(s) or avoid unnecessary day burning due to dirty or mis-functional photocells etc. The collected data from such poles can used to calculate;
- when and where the LED’s needs to be maintained,
- failure of the LED infrastructure
- surrounding illumination will be enough so that the LED’s can be dimmed
- dimming based on brightness level, weather status or even time-based control (reduce of power consumption will be possible).
Lighting solution will not be only affected by the system itself, but also affected by the event around the installation. The service management can understand which part will be have a continuously failure, from whom this part (s) has been acquired, understand the assets situation and check on their lifecycle. Cities like Oslo, Los Angeles, Paris etc. have achieved a 60% and more reduction in cost of the lighting system by making it “connected”. Reduction in operational costs (less trucks rolled, time used more efficiently, sending the right personal to the right location etc.) will show a certain value add for all cities on their way to go SMART.
Sensors and IoT will be used whether the solution are replacing the control devices inside the pole or in the cabinet. Not only for lighting purpose, multi services can be enabled from the pole, such as flood control, speakers for public announcement air quality control, listening to gunshots or increase noise in the surroundings, charging points for multiple purpose (wheels chairs, phones, PC’s etc.) , etc., not only service for reduction, but also for increase quality of services of the city as well.
Mr. Berat Albayrak, former Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, mentioned in an interview in March 2018 that Turkey has 7.5 Million Street lights, whereas roughly 400.000 poles are in Istanbul only (Ayedas, Bedas and IMM total amount of poles). Based on Mr. Albayrak’s announcement the payment for lighting of total lighting were 650 million TL (~100 million €) TL. Due to local regulations, all poles maintenance and operations has been split between the local distribution companies and the municipality. If the City of Istanbul would have been replacing all poles (based on a common understanding) to LED’s only (no connected infrastructure), a 40% reduction will enable 260 million TL (40 million €) savings in energy consumption. Based on the examples of connected lighting systems worldwide another up to 20% reduction can be achieved for street lighting systems (+130 Million TL / 20 million€).
Waste Collection Solutions
We all have faced a waste truck collecting the waste bin’s trash and blocking the road in rush hours. In cities without a level sensor data collection, waste trucks will travel all the way to the trash bins on a routine base and collect the waste even if the bin isn’t full at all. Also, some of the bins are filled, but no-one is collecting those waste in time.
By using smart waste collection solution, municipalities will understand which waste bins are filled (by using level sensors) and has to be collected, create the best and most affordable route to collect the waste and avoid unnecessary time in traffic and on the road. We will receive a cleaner environment, less smell, better management operations and avoided costs due to less rolled trucks and labor costs. Even by using historical data, a better planning of routes can be achieved, what type of truck and waste bins are necessary in reality and statistical data of which bins have been visited frequently and which are less. Istanbul has different types and size of waste bins in its inventory and people are confusing somethings why too many are located closely and why somewhere none are found. Using LPWA Technologies will enable a certain value add to determine the bins and the routes for collection.
Waste or trash collection truck driving in average 3.000 – 4.000 km per month and roughly up to 40.000 km annually. Istanbul creates daily 20.000 tons of waste (monthly 600.000 tons), with trucks used to collect up to 7 tons each, at least 3.500 trucks rolled per day will be necessary to collect them all. Assume to reduce the truck roll amount by 20% annually a saving of 5 million TL will be possible for the city. Remember less truck rolls means less carbon emission and less labor costs as well, even less traffic congestion.
Turkey is in a region where water scary will be a big issue in a foreseen future. Based on data of DSI (Turkey’s state-owned water administration) average water usage have been decreased from 4.000 m3 to 1.500 m3 and we will be soon within countries facing water scarcity. The reason for this will be losses or non-revenue water and climatic changes in our region. According to UN resources, Turkey is within countries which having high water stress.
Cities in Turkey have an average of 40% losses according to official statements. In one of my former articles “the Value of Water” former Minister of Forestry and Water Management, Mr. Veysel Eroglu, mentioned at the “3rd Water Loss Form” that the real loss volume in Turkey is above 50%. You can image why water is an important topic of the cities.
Looking into Istanbul losses between 2014 and 2017, average around 1 billion TL (~153.75 million €) water revenue loss was seen. Since the municipality manages 6 million subscribers, each subscriber has to cover additional 167 TL (~25,70 €) to overcome such losses. The biggest loss (85% - 90%) isn’t caused by water meters, it’s causes by transmission lines, bringing the water to the city from rural water resources. To decrease evaporation on surface water resources, PV panels used to reduce water loss and produce electrical energy. Unfortunately, this also cause algae growth on the source and therefore can’t be used in bigger scale (not the magic wand as expected). Main losses will be at the water pipelines, which are aging, broken due to earthquakes and similar natural causes.
Just to understand roughly how the system is working;
1) Every time we open the water tap, water will be pumped from the pipes or the local inhouse storage
2) In case of the local storage, it will be filled by the water pipelines which will be fed from the city’s infrastructure
3) The water system pumps will work until the lost amount will be balanced in the system
4) Pumping from the pipeline, tanks and storage structure will be filled and some losses will be created due to vibration in the system and minor or major water floods can be seen in the buildings.
5) Concrete or PVC / PE pipes might be broken, which are cause the losses in the system.
To understand whether losses or other issues are occurred sensor technologies will be used, to determine to locate and resolve such issue as soon as possible.
Another important issue will be the water quality. It will be continuously measured and checked whether an issue will be available. Many events in the past has shown that the quality checks only done in certain periods and will not enable a real time understanding of the water. The control and checks might be done on a monthly or in best case on daily base (based on the size of the city’s water sources and locations). Some international examples can be referred to how that can be achieved. In Turkey we have faced in the past, disposal of construction wastes, unintentional or intentional poisoning of sources as well as lightweight poisoning of the water by barrels from multiple different sources. Again, using sensor-based technology at and around water sources can help to understand the source quality level and determine immediately if someone is attempting on the water source.
Water losses can be reduced by 10% annually and might create a saving of more than 40% in 5 years’ time (roughly a volume of 400 million TL / 61.5 million €).
Business models and funding opportunities
With regard to the mentioned topics and possible savings, applications and use cases can fund itself base on a step by step approach and using right project management consulting efforts. With a roughly estimation, the breakeven point can be reached within 28 to 36 month and afterwards a certain gain will be achieved.
The municipality only needs to select the right consultancy and solution structure before starting with a starting investment in the smart city use case.
Nevertheless, don’t forget health solution and warranties are priceless and shouldn’t be a concern for funding or similar commercial structure.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
To enable and boost all the use cases mentioning above, ICT will be the leverage for the city to start the solutions. Create senseful data, analytics, big data understanding etc. will be created on ICT structure of the city. To be independent from any public system, the most selected solution by municipalities was based on LPWA (low power, wide area) technologies.
NB-IoT (narrowband internet of things) can be used where the coverage of cellular network is acceptable and create no issues to acquire any cellular signal. Bigger issues are existing if any data wants to be collected from rural areas. LoRaWAN, Ingenu or Weightless can be used in such problematic areas. Those can be permanent solutions, temporary solutions (until the cellular coverage will be available) or complementary solution for other telecom infrastructure (such as cellular etc.). Sigfox is a kind of cellular network and has its own operated solution. Some cellular network operators have been used to complement their solution as well. Some other examples are based on a hybrid wired and wireless solution as well.
There is no magic wand to create a solution based on just one system. A hybrid structure will enable multiple possibilities for the public or private operators.
Other city solutions
There are even more smart city solutions based on the layout of the city itself such as
- Smart port solution (sea and air)
- Traffic solution (crowd sensing, measure ice, water and snow on the surface)
- Personal tracking (for safety and security)
- Public and private transportation (route control, load control, conditional monitoring etc.)
The city can use such independent or interoperable with other smart city solution to avoid siloed structures and solution for citizens. The collected data can used for multiple services in the city.
Not without communication
Becoming smart without certain technological approach is impossible. The main bullet for smart and technological solution is the data itself and this must be collected and delivered to a control center or similar central structure for evaluation of the data. Using the right and best effort technology will be the key for a successful adaptation of a smart city solution to all stakeholders and citizens.