The Future Is Now for Smart Cities

Municipalities across Europe are tapping into RFID and related technologies to deliver new and enhanced services.
By John Edwards

Smart-city applications are often a logical choice whenever a municipality launches an urban-renewal project or modernization strategy, with the goal of building or remaking an entire neighborhood. Helsinki, for instance, is planning multiple smart-city applications for its new Kalasatama neighborhood. "It is a new part of Helsinki, a totally ground-filled area," Penttilä says. "It was an old fish harbor and now it is being made ready for new development."

Penttilä envisions Kalasatama as a "smart neighborhood" served by applications automating multiple municipal and private services, ranging from mass transit to street repairs. "We will showcase different kinds of smart-city applications," he says.

One application, being developed in partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks and Helsingin Energia, one of Finland's largest energy companies, will create a smart grid that enables Kalasatama residents and businesses to coordinate energy use with the availability of local wind- and solar-generated power.

"There is a strong tendency in Helsinki, as well as in other cities in Europe and in the States as well, for people to want to be better citizens," Penttilä says. "They want more life in their cities, a better life." Penttilä thinks that people will eventually come to expect the availability of smart-city applications in the same way they currently look for a city to provide parks, street lighting and other essential infrastructure elements. "At the end of the day," he says, "it's people who will move the smart- city idea forward."

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