Smart infrastructures: essential for smart cities

Smart City -

By Nexus Integra  /

16 March, 2020

Connectivity is no longer a thing of computers and mobile devices. It can now be found on televisions, watches, alarm clocks, cars, any item that is part of your day-to-day. We live in the time of the Internet of Things (IoT). A unique moment to take advantage of technology to improve our everyday lives.

IoT is key for the development of smart infrastructures that allow cities to benefit from all the advantages of being a smart city.

These infrastructures are necessary for a city to be able to leverage technology and smart solutions, thereby improving the day-to-day of its citizens. This is why an increasing number of companies and institutions are implementing them and adapting. The smart city global market is expected to reach 1.56 billion dollars by the year 2025.

What are smart infrastructures?

A smart infrastructure could be defined as a cyber-physical system that provides for an integral management of all elements that it comprises by means of different technological tools that help compile and analyze data to meet efficiency, sustainability, productivity and safety objectives.

This definition can be supplemented by the notes of the Royal Academy of Engineering of the United Kingdom, which analyzed the subject and added these details to the definition:

“A smart infrastructure is a smart system that uses a data feedback loop to improve decision-making regarding a matter. A system that can monitor, measure, analyze, communicate and act based on data collected by sensors.”

Smart infrastructures are based not only on their physical structure (cabling, sensors, etc.) but also on four principles: data, analytics, feedback and adaptability.

  1. Data: It is the basic element required by a smart system to work, and the raw material required by a smart infrastructure for its operation.
  2. Analytics: The analysis of information is key to obtain useful information for decision making.
  3. Feedback: A data feedback loop is fundamental for any smart system. This feedback is evident when information is collected regarding the way in which an asset is used, and this information is used to improve the way in which the system operates.
  4. Adaptability: Smart systems are those that not only adapt to current demands, but also conform to the needs of the future.

Discover how to achieve a better Smart City infrastructure

How many types of smart infrastructures are there?

We could say that there are different types of smart city infrastructures based on the degree of human participation in the decision-making process.

Based on the level of control or automation, these types of infrastructures have been broken down by the Royal Academy of Engineering of the United Kingdom as follows:

Semi-intelligent infrastructure

This infrastructure collects and registers data about its own use, its structural behavior and environmental conditions, but it has no ability to make decisions based on the obtained information. Some examples of this infrastructure would be maps that record a city’s pollution or vehicle traffic.

Intelligent infrastructure

This is a reference to systems that collect data to process and present the information in a way that helps a human operation make decisions. One example of this structure would be the traffic system that detects heavy traffic and informs drivers so they can make better decisions while they drive.

Smart infrastructure

This infrastructure collects data, processes information and takes appropriate action completely autonomously (without human intervention) and dynamically, and adapts to changing conditions. This classification usually contains smart networks, smart buildings, smart public infrastructure or smart beaches.

Smart networks

A smart network is one that can efficiently incorporate the behavior and actions of all users connected to it, so that there are few losses and a high-quality and safe supply is maintained. One example would be a high-voltage energy transmission network that is more automated and integrated, and better manages all the devices connected to it thanks to its smart network, thereby achieving an efficient and sustainable distribution.

Smart buildings

Smart buildings are those that are built with an advanced installation and technological systems, a technology that allows for the automation of many internal processes, such as heating, ventilation, lighting, security and other systems in the building.

Do you know the benefits of a smart building? Discover them here!

Smart public infrastructures

Smart public infrastructures include electronic devices that transmit information that can then be used to improve their own functioning or the behavior of other related systems.

Smart beaches

There are several projects for the creation of smart beaches. In Spain, Telefónica is undertaking a project that will allow users to obtain real-time information to improve their experience in Spanish beaches. This project will use sensors, drones, smart parking and smart traffic lights, among other technologies.

Smart infrastructures are necessary in smart cities because they offer a number of benefits.

What are the advantages and functionalities of these infrastructures?

Different authors have discussed the subject of smart city infrastructures and their benefits. According to publications by smart infrastructure experts on Research Gate, these are their main benefits:

  • Self-control and precision in decision making: These systems automatically control the internal structure and the status of the materials of an asset, as well as the environmental conditions and use that they are given to improve the precision and speed of the decision-making process. One example in a smart city would be knowing the state of traffic, public transportation and parking spaces to trace better routes for public transports or private vehicles.
  • Cost efficiency and savings: These smart systems allow organizations to take better advantage of resources to do more with less. One example could be controlling the use of electricity or heating in a building.
  • Reliability: This refers to reducing system downtimes and unforeseen issues, allowing organizations to continue providing their services with the highest reliability.
  • Safety and resilience: This implies maintaining processes and designs that adapt to changes, keeping the infrastructure and users safe, and being resilient to human errors or natural disasters. An example of this could be the control of seating in big events.
  • User interaction and empowerment: Smart infrastructures enhance the user experience and provide services that adapt to the changing needs of consumers. One example in smart cities would be a citizen’s APP or municipal WhatsApp that citizens can use to find products on sale or local news, and interact with some of the services.
  • Sustainability: This advantage refers to the fact of optimizing the decision-making process to ensure a sustainable use of all managed resources. Such as, for example, an efficient waste, water or energy management in cities.

For the benefits of smart infrastructures to become a reality, a common language must be developed to allow for the coordination of all the processes related to a city.

These require platforms that manage all the information related to a city to improve the processes and everyday lives of its inhabitants. They require smart solutions, such as Nexus Integra.

Nexus Integra is an integrated operational platform that makes it easy for companies and public institutions to successfully implement the smart infrastructure that a city needs to become a smart city. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

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