Smart cities
Smart cities

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Smart cities

Week 4: Infrastructure, technology and data


Take a look this week into what smart infrastructure is, and some of the applications of technology, sensors and data. Move your smart cities project another step forward by looking for the types of technology and data that might help address your smart city problem.

Lorraine is back to immerse you in the world of smart infrastructure, connected objects and data that lies behind smart cities.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_smartcities_fig_1035.mp4
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Infrastructure is the physical and organisational structures that enable our cities to operate. This includes roads, buildings, energy and water supply networks. But in many cities rapid urbanisation, pressure on resources and climate change all impact on city infrastructure. We need to future-proof our infrastructure, and make it smart and resilient. But future proofing doesn't necessarily involve large scale construction. Smart infrastructure contains networked elements that enable us to manage it in an integrated way. For example cameras and sensors that can monitor vehicle movements to help with traffic problems, smart meters that help to manage energy demand or sensors to detect water leaks.
Data from sensors can be used to increase our knowledge of city problems and help smart cities to plan new solutions. An app can help asthmatics by telling them where air pollution is at its highest and a sensor can tell the streetlights to switch on when people pass by. The internet of things is creating a worldwide network of everyday devices connected to the internet that captures data about how we live and what we do. But who owns this data and who decides what is done with it? Can smart cities mobilise this data revolution by creating open data portals to drive innovation and enterprise and to empower citizens? Or are we trading our privacy for city efficiency?
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • describe what smart infrastructure is and the benefits and challenges of its design, construction and management
  • discuss how sensors are used in smart cities and identify some privacy and security issues associated with them
  • explore the role of open, shared and closed data in smart cities.

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