The internet of things has been hailed as the next big innovation to change the world. The premise if fairly simple; everyday objects (like fridges or traffic lights) would be able to send and receive information. Basically, we’re moving towards a world where fridges will message you when you’re low on milk.
Moving past the frivolities of everyday life, the internet of things can optimize the ways we build cities. Barcelona, specifically, has been a trailblazer in this field.
In transportation, Barcelona has pursued a multi-modal strategy, advancing the use of electric cars and bike sharing, while investing heavily in improving the bus and parking systems. The new digital bus stops turn waiting for buses into an interactive experience, with updates on bus location, USB charging stations, free WiFi, and tools to help riders download apps to help them learn more about the city.
The city simultaneously pursued the implementation of the Barcelona Lighting Masterplan, published in 2012, which uses smart technologies to enhance the efficiency and utility of city lampposts. By 2014, more than 1,100 lampposts had been transitioned to LED, reducing energy consumption. The lampposts sense when pedestrians are in close proximity; when the streets are empty, lights automatically dim to further conserve energy. The lampposts are also part of the city’s WiFi network, providing consistent, free Internet access throughout the city. Moreover, they are equipped with sensors that collect data on air quality, relaying information to city agencies and to the public. Cumulatively, the improvements produced 30 percent energy savings across the urban lighting system.
In order to maximize the efficiency of the city’s parks, Barcelona has implemented IoT technologies to remotely sense and control park irrigation and water levels in public fountains. Using sensors to monitor rain and humidity, park workers can determine how much irrigation is needed in each area. A system of electrovalves is then remotely controlled to deliver necessary water across the city. The program, implemented in 68 percent of public parks, helped the city achieve a 25 percent increase in water conservation, for savings of approximately $555,000 per year.
There’s plenty more to come, as Barcelona becomes a city that’s fully equipped for of the future.