Smart Communities: A Big Data Trend

April 15, 2019 Technology

What are Smart Communities?

Internet of Things

Smart Communities are piquing the interest of many city and community leaders. Smart Communities, leverage sensors, Information of Things and Information (IoT) and Communication (ICT) technologies to gather data from the community’s environment, devices, community assets, and citizens. Their purpose is to efficiently monitor and effectively manage the community’s resources, operations, services, reduced costs, as well as increase the interaction and communication with the community’s citizens.

Smart Community sensors and devices can communicate real-time data for analysis to ensure officials can be responsive not only in crisis situations, but also to identify trends and projections as a community continues to grow and evolve. IoT devices and sensors can measure and monitor things like wind damage, traffic flow and patterns, power distribution and outages, waste management, snowfall and snow removal, health epidemics as well as crime detection and crowd control. They can even track pedestrian traffic patterns on streets, in malls, large venues like arenas and concert venues, mass transit, etc. Most importantly this information can aid communities in being responsive during times of crisis and can even aid in predicting impending crises.

The EU and many European nations embraced Smart Communities early in the development of the concept, aiding in smart growth strategies for their communities from infrastructure and civil engineering perspectives. Many of the Smart Communities are also aligning their agendas to larger policy platforms where funding may be available such as Global Warming and Climate Change, Economic Restructuring Initiatives, Aging Populations, and Urban Development. The estimated global market for smart community technologies, consulting and services will exceed $400 billion each year by 2020. Some of the most innovative cities in the world include Dubai, Singapore, Amsterdam, Madrid, and New York and they should act as models for building Smart Communities.

Smart Communities and Big Data: The Demands on IT’s Infrastructure and Security

As local communities plan for and design technology infrastructure to collect data, new data systems need to be developed on-premises, off-premises, for cloud and hybrid environments in order to collect, store, analyze and report on the data and information produced. Then, just as big data and predictive analytics, like business and artificial intelligence, provide real-time summative and predictive analytics to businesses and financial institutions, big data will be providing similar information to municipalities. This presents cities and communities with a number of significant technical challenges when designing smart community strategies.

The first of the many challenges in the realm of big data will be in determining what data needs to be collected. The data collection challenge will also be influenced by political points of view as one of the biggest criticisms of smart community designs is the sense of loss of privacy, an Orwellian sense of Big Brother is watching.

The next substantial challenge will be creating the appropriate storage for all the data collected. Transport of the data to ensure it is collected as near real-time as possible can affect choices in location, design, and capacity to effectively house the volumes of data that will be generated. Once the data is collected, determining the most important types of analyses that need to be conducted, how frequently these analyses must be conducted and reported on, how much historical information must be leveraged for these analyses will affect compute power, and the performance of any enterprise application system being leveraged by a smart community.

While there are a number of other technical considerations when creating a design for Smart Communities, of paramount importance, the considerations around security, privacy and appropriate use of the information collected by Smart Communities. If the citizens believe that the information they create and generate for a community is or will be misused, the Smart Communities initiative will most certainly fail.

What Smart Communities are Leading the Way?

Amsterdam is leveraging drone technology to become a city of drones. Drones can provide ease of delivery for good and medications. This is particularly convenient for infirmed or elderly residents and surveillance to provide an added layer of security over the city or key venues.

Smart Communities: A Big Data Trend

Ann Arbor, Michigan is leveraging smart sensor technology to cut emissions and promote healthier lifestyles for the city’s residents by deploying bicycles throughout the city, which reduces traffic and increases city revenues through rentals. Additionally, Ann Arbor is leveraging sensor technology to address rising flood concerns that have been impacting the city throughout the last several years.

Tampa, Florida is leveraging smart community and sensor technology to test out autonomous vehicle highways as well as a pilot program where pedestrians can download an app and change traffic signals, allowing them to move more freely throughout the city.  These are just some of the creative applications for sensors, devices, IOT and ICT technologies that communities are using and developing to make the lives of their citizens more comfortable, productive, healthier and safer.


Amy Knower joined ABS Technology in 2018 as Director of Sales. Amy is a visionary, dynamic and growth-minded leader to the sales team and organization as a whole; with extensive expertise in providing business, technical and educational leadership.