Humankind has certainly come a long way when it comes to the development of our environments. From tribes of nomadic hunter-gatherers, we evolved into agricultural societies, then we were propelled into the industrial revolution and finally, to the world of microprocessors, laptops, email and Internet that we live in today. However, with expansion comes with a price – and often we sacrifice our environment and ultimately, our quality of life.
Sustainability, which means of using our resources wisely today so that we will have enough for tomorrow, is the number one priority for many cities and governments all over the world. And so many are taking the initiative to create and promote so-called smart cities. While there can be many definitions of smart cities, many agree it is about creating a place that meets the need of its citizens – clean, safe, sustainable and not to mention having services that are efficient.
Electronics design and technology play a big part in creating these smart cities. Ingenuity, know-how and innovation have brought such advances in technology in different sectors, be it consumer products, medical, engineering or transportation. Smart cities take a holistic approach to improving the over-all quality of life – every little bit, from medical services, electric grids, urban planning, crime prevention, education, transportation etc., are taken together as parts of a whole, each one being improved so as to produce a city that is truly sustainable and just plain better. Let’s look at some examples of how smart cities are working to create a better experience for its citizens
Better Health Services
Even in the most developed countries, medical care for the elderly is never straightforward. Those who need care the most are often the ones who are out of reach – living far away from the nearest clinics and so, require home visits. Take for example a Wireless Telemedicine System developed by LX. Primarily aimed at elderly people, the device can be worn and measures body function such as heart rate and blood activity. The system will alert the user if something is wrong.
HypoMon is another example of an innovative electronics medical product LX assisted develop. The HypoMon System is a non-invasive monitor and alarm for sleep timehypoglycaemic episodes. It is for people with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus between 10and 25 years of age.
Driver Fatigue & The iCone
Traffic jams are one of the headaches anybody living in the urban jungle must face, especially in a mega-citiy like the Los Angeles, USA. This was the ideal place to utilize smart traffic cones. iCone® is a “smart” traffic cone, which looks just like a supersized traffic cone, but packs a punch. Each iCone has sensors and GPS receivers inside, which collects data like traffic flow, temperature and vehicle speeds. This data is then transmitted to the main office. Analysts can then determine the flow of traffic in real time, allowing the city to prepare for heavy traffic jams, reduce congestion and even use the data for planning of future roadways. Of course, the smart cone is so smart that it even catches the bad guys – a would-be thief stole two of the devices in California. The iCones continued to transmit their whereabouts, and the police tracked them all the way to the perpetrator’s home, where the man was promptly arrested.
Another example of an innovative electronics transport product is a driver fatigue system developed by LX. The driver fatigue safety system designed to monitor the position of a car relative to the road in order to detect signs of driver fatigue and dangerous situations. The system gently alerts the driver via a vibrating seat cushion.
Masdar: A True “Zero-Emission City”
Abu Dhabi is out to beat out everyone in the smart city race by planning and building the first ever truly “zero-emission” city – Masdar City, just 17 kilometres from Abu Dhabi city. It will be powered 100% by renewable sources – through solar power plants built just for Masdar, photovoltaic modules to be installed on the rooftops of city buildings, a windfarm outside the city, a geothermal plant, plus it plans to build the largest hydrogen power plant on earth. Waste and water consumption is reduced, through a desalination plant (also solar-powered) which will provide 60% of the water to the city, plus most of the waste water will be recycled, mostly by using it to irrigate crops and other such purposes. Biodegradable waste will be used as fertilizer by creating compost materials and other waste will be recycled and repurposed.
Electronics design and technology allows solutions to be found for issues humans have created in their environments. Smart cities allow us to look into the future – of what can be, if we all make the effort. Using smart electronics design will allow our cities to think and live smartly for us will allow us to just spend our time living our lives (instead of worrying about tomorrow.) The dream of smart cities isn’t so far away.
LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. They specialise in embedded systems and wireless technologies design. www.lx-group.com.au