Making Europe’s cities sustainable with IoT

04.05.2020 by Daniel Kunz
A panoramic view of Copenhagen’s city center

Ecological and connected: How the Internet of Things (IoT) is making European towns and metropolises into smart cities.

Monday morning at 8:15 am in Copenhagen: Traffic along Tagensvej, a busy street in the hip neighborhood of Nørrebro, is flowing nicely. Thanks to smart traffic lights, commuters in the Danish capital no longer have to worry about congested roads. Once they make it to the office, everything they use – from the coffee machine to desk lamps – is often powered by solar panels on the rooftop. Municipal rubbish bins in the city center also run off solar energy. They automatically compact trash several times a day and notify the sanitation department as soon as they’re full. This means garbage cans don’t have to be emptied as often and garbage collectors can plan their routes more efficiently by stopping only when necessary.

Copenhagen want to become the world’s first CO2-neutral capital by 2025 and completely forgo fossil fuels by 2050. And it’s made a good start: From IoT-based lighting systems to a commitment to recycling and a digital data marketplace for developers – Denmark’s capital is already today a smart city in many ways.

IoT Is Good for the Environment

Europe’s metropolises are global leaders when it comes to using IoT and smart city technologies to improve sustainability, according to a recent study by the management consultancy Frost & Sullivan. And that’s made them a positive example for the entire world, as drought, heatwaves and other extreme weather caused by climate change becomes more commonplace. Another study by the Norwegian technology concern DNV GL estimates that the Earth’s temperature will increase on average by 2.6 degrees Celsius by 2100 compared to pre-industrial times. Regardless if they’re bustling metropolises or small towns, many European cities are starting smart city initiatives in order to alleviate climate pressures while making the lives of their residents both more sustainable and modern.

Better Air Quality in Darmstadt and Amsterdam

Stop-and-go, traffic jams and running motors: The German city of Darmstadt wants to counter the bad atmosphere downtown with smart parking. Together with Deutsche Telekom, city officials want to give drivers the ability to find free parking spots and pay for them using a smartphone app starting in 2020. This will not just save the need for a paper parking ticket but will also help reduce traffic congestion caused by drivers searching for empty places to park.

In Amsterdam, birdhouses have been fitted with sensors to monitor urban air quality. When everything is okay, the rooftop glows green and provides passers-by with access to free WiFi. Whenever someone logs into the so-called TreeWifi, they receive two tips how they can help improve the city’s air quality. For example: “Join a carpool,” or “Travel short distances by bike.” In the near future, there will be in total 500 houses measuring air pollution and providing city authorities with comprehensive data wirelessly.

Green Energy for Vienna and Barcelona

By 2020 some 80 percent of all households in Europe should be able to monitor their electricity consumption with a smart power meter. Barcelona is leading the way – with around 20,000 such smart meters already installed. Both companies and private consumers can see the power they’re using on a regular PC. This can help identify power hungry devices, so they can be throttled or even replaced with more efficient models. Moreover, utilities can better integrate renewable energy from solar, wind or cogeneration units into their power portfolios with smart metering.

In Vienna, the city’s metro is turning into a smart energy provider: Researchers want to capture the power generated by braking trains to supply stations with sustainable electricity.


 

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Daniel Kunz
Daniel Kunz

Expert Digital Marketing

Digitization and the Internet of Things are among the favourite topics of Daniel Kunz. He has been with Deutsche Telekom since 2017 and regularly writes about technology trends and many exciting topics, especially for the retail trade and the logistics industry.