Smart technology has already affected most of our personal lives on a profound level, and more and more businesses rely on it to achieve better efficiency
However, smart technology’s ability to scale makes it a compelling technology for entities even larger than businesses: Cities. More data makes smart technology better, and advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are empowering cities across the globe. Here are 14 of the most exciting smart city startups and how they might have an impact on your life in the future.
Streetlights are ubiquitous in the developed world, and there’s no way to replace physical lights and the structures that support them. However, there’s plenty of potential for transforming standard street lighting into valuable sensor arrays, and the grid-like layout of streetlights in many cities makes them valuable resources for smart and connected technology. Telensa provides support cases for handling parking and metering, and it can be used to monitor contractors. Other sensors can be added to measure the weather, monitor traffic, or even detect pollution. Telensa Ultra-Narrow-Band (UNB) technology provides excellent capabilities ideal for use in urban areas, and sophisticated software offers a centralised and expandable means of rolling out new technology.
The flying car still eludes us. However, one company is providing a compelling alternative. Lilium are set to offer all-electric flying with jets that produce no pollution, especially if charged by renewable or zero-emission sources. It also provides excellent range, being able to travel up to 300 km in just an hour. The low-noise design means it’s usable even in congested areas, and Lilium plans to let people use it like a taxi: Simply tap a few buttons on your smartphone while at a Lilium location to summon a Lilium Jet. Unlike traditional airplanes, the Lilium Jet is takes off and lands vertically, so it doesn’t need expansive runways to operate. While it might not quite match the flying cars seen on The Jetsons, the convenience of the Lilium Jet might make it a staple of travel once it’s fully developed. The company recently secured a big win by hiring legendary American automobile designer Frank Stephenson, widely regarded as one of the most influential vehicle designers ever.
— Lilium (@Lilium) April 20, 2017
IoT sensor data is invaluable for tracking large-scale activities and events. Traffic monitoring, for example, is a natural fit. Sentiance aims to use IoT data on a more personal level by tracking a number of day-to-day activities. Companies can leverage this technology to better anticipate their customers’ needs, and it can be used to adapt customer engagement in a smart manner. Sentiance takes a broad approach, and the company aims to provide services in a wide range of industries, including insurance, commerce, transportation, and health. This technology is also a great fit for smart cities, as it lets planners determine the most efficient use of resources based on real-world data instead of estimates.
Based on Itron’s OpenWay Riva platform, Utilidata aims to make smart metering even smarter. Smart meters are already providing invaluable information to companies, and this efficiency leads to lower energy costs and smaller bills for consumers. Utilitdata relies on real-time information on distributed grids to provide even more optimal energy delivery, helping all entities, from individuals to businesses to cities, cut back on waste. Powering Utilitdata’s approach is its industry-leading AdaptiVolt technology.
Self-driving cars continue to dominate the headlines, and it seems as if it’s only a matter of time before most of us spend are commutes in vehicles that drive themselves. But how will society adapt to vehicles that are always connected? Supported by SAP’s Vehicles Network, Tantalum connects drivers and passengers to companies through their cloud platform. Users can receive smart service pertaining to repair work and breakdown assistance, and vehicle tracking can provide invaluable data for a number of parties. Monetization services help transform passengers into consumers, allowing them to pay for rides or keep up with their bills while on the go.
Tantalum’s marketing manager Richard Johnson says the company are “determined to help create positive change”.
Our Air.Car platform, a cutting edge and award-winning solution dedicated to measuring vehicle pollutants in real time. We have already spoken to cities across the globe about how we can help them improve air quality and traffic flows via our ‘smart technology’ that assists with parking, reduces pollution through improved driver behaviour and offers in-car payments through Pay.Car.
— SAP MENA (@SAPMENA) March 14, 2018
Helicopters are a staple of intra-city transportation, but only for those able to afford it. Volocopter offers an alternative. Powered by electricity, Volocopters don’t pollute like their combustion engine-powered counterparts, and the low noise means they can meet stringent noise pollution rules. Autonomous operations can remove the cost of a pilot, which is a major expense for personal helicopter transportation. Designed to meet both German and international safety rules, the Volocopter may make its way into smart cities shortly. Check out their mini-documentary below.
Smart cities are dependent on maps, but typical illustrations provide a limited amount of information. Mapillary uses street-level imagery to offer more robust information, which is invaluable for planning and allocating resources most effectively. Mapillary’s technology is able to detect common elements of cities, including lighting, signage, vehicles, and vegetation, offering unparalleled detail for city employees. Furthermore, this information is all generated in a smart manner, so cities can regularly update maps with data gathered from automobiles or other sources able to connect to a smart network.
The blockchain concept keeps finding new use cases, and DOVU provides an innovative one: Bringing the blockchain to vehicles. Capable of being used in personal cars, public transportation vehicles, and self-driving cars, DOVU lets individuals have a positive impact on their cities while earning a number of rewards along the way. Sharing speed and mapping data enables lets cities provide better plans, and DOV tokens can provide a number of rewards, providing users with incentives and even lowering the cost of commuting. Smart contracts provide a more seamless means of implementing this technology.
Waste management is a cornerstone of city management, but our current methods of handling waste are still based on traditional technologies. Nordsense allows waste management entities to rely on smart sensors to determine the right time to collect ways while providing routing information to save time and energy. Small optical sensors can monitor waste bins of all types and sizes, and the automated and interactive platform lets private or public waste management entities send out vehicles on an on-demand fashion. The affordability of smart technology means smart trash management will likely become a staple of cities in the near future.
Cities are filled with restaurants, and those who inhabit cities, either full-time or while working, will inevitably need to grab a bite to eat regularly. Infarm is seeking an urban farming revolution, with a goal of growing as much food as possible locally, which can cut back on transportation costs and lead to better energy usage while offer fresher options. Their indoor approach lets organizations tailor their food to their local needs, while the scalable design is intended to work with cities of all sizes.
— INFARM (@INFARMBerlin) April 6, 2017
Cities are made up of properties, but locating information about property has long been a cumbersome task. Civic Insight is capable of tracking individual properties, providing invaluable feedback for city managers, businesses, and individuals. Their platform tracks trends, helping decision-makers determine the best course of action. Users can also receive alerts, letting residents find out what’s happening with properties in their neighborhoods, and the expandable nature of the platform lets users incorporate code enforcement and building permit information, helping to cut back on bureaucratic waste.
Informed and active residents improve cities and neighborhoods, but encouraging engagement can be difficult. Neighborland is a communication platform designed to connect city-level organizations with residents in an approachable, equitable manner. Already tested in more than 200 cities, universities, and other entities, Neighborland has a proven track record in combining large-scale interests with the individuals who live in target neighbourhoods, and major partnerships have made the platform a popular option for driving civic engagement in a manner not possible without smart technology.
Urban planning is critical for making cities places people want to live and work in, and small mistakes made years or even decades in the past can lead to major problems. UrbanFootprint is a cloud-based urban-planning program designed to collate critical urban planning information into a single space, letting planners work more efficiently. Visualization tools create information in an easy-to-understand manner, and a broad designed toolkit makes UrbanFootprint a one-stop option.
The smart city isn’t based on a particular platform or concept, and smart cities will evolve over time to better incorporate new technology and ideas. Although change won’t happen overnight, disruptive companies basing their operations on smart technology are already having an impact across the globe, and the potential benefits are poised to make cities safer, cleaner, and friendlier on the environment. Even when this technology is invisible to individuals, it has the potential to improve efficiency dramatically and make our cities more pleasant spaces to spend time.