How do smart homes fit into smart cities?
Smart homes are becoming increasingly more current and have the potential to become an integral component in the smart city experience. Where do smart homes fit into smart cities?
Local authorities are turning to the concept of smart cities to alleviate many of the issues they face today; from cutting costs in waste management to reducing traffic congestion in built-up areas.
A network of interconnected sensors and systems form the basis of any smart city. These sensors form the Internet of Things (IoT), a legion of digitally connected devices recording and analysing streams of data gathered from the everyday goings-on of city life and acting upon it to improve facilities, processes and the overall life of its citizens.
The concept of smart homes meanwhile, may not be one that you’d currently deem intrinsically entwined within the wider smart city environment. Say ‘smart homes’ to someone and they’re likely to offer examples of thermostats or light bulbs that you are able to control from your phone, or a voice-activated speaker with which you can converse about today’s weather.
It’s true, these are all examples of smart devices and feature within the stereotypical smart home. However, these devices represent something more personal, a microlayer of IoT operating on an individual basis, affecting only the user within the home environment in which the device is stationed.
Smart homes in a smart city
Smart homes in relation to the smart city concept, however, are set to become a much more common occurrence: and much more powerful. Though there is much talk around how technology can be used within a smart city environment to improve traffic or reshape supply systems, there hasn’t been as much discussion as to how it can, or will, affect the largest of any cities problems: housing.
There are set to be almost 300 million smart homes installed around the world by 2022, according to a report by ABI Research.
The smart home concept has the ability to improve on costs and efficiency not just for those building and designing houses, but also for those living within them. In the not-to-distant future, we’re more than likely to see our homes hooked into the wider smart city network, all interconnected and working together to the benefit of all.
This may sound like an alien concept now. In a time in which the media has been awash with stories around the handling of data and user privacy, the idea of hooking our own homes up to a wider smart city network is sure to be seen as something of an invasion.
Smart homes for smart citizens
A city-wide smart house project doesn’t necessarily have to include a range of concealed cameras and microphones recording the goings-on happening behind the closed doors of our personal space, however. Of course, ensuring devices and networks are secure and private is a necessity, both for public safety and for winning trust and support from users. Such a project can operate via other means to improve public service efficiency and general safety for citizens.
We’re already seeing the benefits of this technology on a personal level; being able to remotely monitor and control the temperature of your home via a smart thermostat can save money on next month’s bill. But, apply that concept to a city-wide housing grid and local authorities can monitor energy usage and spikes across the community, ensuring smarter, fairer pricing as well as being able to tackle outages, energy leaks and the environmental issues that come with overuse.
Safety could also greatly improve through the use of IoT smart technology. Smart smoke and fire alarm systems could automatically contact the fire brigade and notify neighbours in the instance of danger. Smart security systems could be more widespread and affordable, acting as a deterrent for crime, informing the police, and providing evidence in the event of a break-in.
Furthermore, in sheltered or assisted accommodation, sensors can be utilised to notify carers and paramedics when residents have a fall or there is an anomaly in the usual levels of day-to-day activity.
Where do smart homes fit into smart cities?
With all this in mind then, it is quite clear that the scope for smart home technology is a wide one, and one that will certainly have a beneficial effect upon the lives of residents. Cities could become a safer, cleaner environment for all if new and future builds implemented IoT technology in the design and initial build stages; to the benefit of both local authorities and future homeowners.
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Whether you’re a local authority looking to provide public WiFi or seeking a connectivity solution for Smart Cities, the IoT or 5G / Small Cells in your town or city, or if you are interested in partnering with us around the Connected City Platform in any of our forthcoming town and city roll-outs, we’d love to explain more about who we are and what we do.