From Sensors to Big Data: Chicago Is Becoming a Smart City

Chicago is the first major city in the USA that is building a permanent infrastructure to collect Big Data. They are installing hundreds of environmental sensors that will measure temperature, humidity, light, sound and cellphone signals. All this data will enable Chicago to become a safer and cleaner city. The sensors will be placed on top of lampposts along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. The Bloomberg video below shows what Chicago plans to do with all that data.

Smart cities are are true data generators, where all sensors placed within a city gathers vast amounts of data. Chicago will open source all this data to the public, so that anyone can access the data and make use of it. This could result in great new applications that citizens will come up with, that will have a positive affect on Chicago.

These environmental sensors that Chicago will use are only the beginning of smart cities. There are a lot of possibilities when turning to sensors and data. For example:

Traffic management

Smart traffic management will enable car drivers to face less traffic jams, as data will tell which areas are busy. Traffic lights could automatically adjust to reduce congestion. Smart parking sensors could automatically alert drivers for free parking spaces and street lights could only be turned on if someone is approaching, saving a lot of energy.

Maintenance management

Thanks to sensors, cities could turn to preventative maintenance management, saving the community a lot of money in unnecessary maintenance. Apart from citizens that can report damages on urban elements via smartphones, it becomes a lot more interesting if a traffic light informs the community that a repair is imminent.

Smart grids

Smart cities that contain smart energy grids will be a lot more efficient with their energy. A smart grid will be able to manage all the electric vehicles that requires energy. It will be able to sense the amount of citizens present in time and location and adjust lighting accordingly. Smart grids will help community buildings also save a lot of energy and become more efficient.

Of course, these three examples are just the beginning. Cities will take another decade or two before they become true smart cities, where everything is connected. Such a proof of concept that Chicago is starting however, is the first step that is required to walk down this path and become more efficient and save a lot of money.

Story: Smart Data