Building a smart city is not just about technology, but also about political will, strategic vision, and collective commitment. For this reason, it’s better to talk about the digital transformation of cities, seen as a profound process that upgrades urban infrastructure, pushing the city to a higher level of functionality.

Setting the Goal

The first step in building a smart city is to define the objectives you want to achieve. This means focusing on areas where you want to invest, understanding which elements need to be enhanced to improve the quality of life for citizens.

One of the main goals is improving real-time information collection about what’s happening in the city. The most valuable data allows city authorities to make informed decisions based on the actual conditions on urban streets.

This topic is closely linked to environmental concerns: building a smart city means having environmental sustainability at its core and all the initiatives that can be undertaken to enhance it.

Therefore, technological solutions are essential not only to monitor air quality and urban pollution but also to reduce the presence of fine dust and carbon dioxide. On the other hand, we mustn’t forget the implications regarding energy costs: using smart lighting devices can enhance urban comfort and contain energy costs where they are not necessary.

Another objective when building a smart city is to enhance services and infrastructure for tourists. Italian companies owe a lot to travelers, so it’s essential to equip cities so that these visitors can easily find the information they need. After all, the livability of a city is not only measured by its residents but by everyone who experiences it.

Strengthening Infrastructure

Once the objectives are defined, it’s crucial to understand how to enhance the infrastructure. In most cases, the project to build a smart city starts from a baseline where basic services are lacking or there have been minimal investments by municipal authorities in their improvement or maintenance.

Key areas of intervention to improve smart city performance include installing weather stations, devices capable of collecting data on atmospheric conditions, such as temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, and direction.

This information allows local authorities to make informed decisions about resource and public service management. For instance, data from weather stations can be used to optimize public lighting management and reduce energy consumption.

When building a smart city, the importance of air quality sensors should not be underestimated. These instruments can detect the composition of city air, especially focusing on the presence of pollutants like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and fine particles.

By continuously monitoring air quality, urban areas with higher pollution levels can be identified, and measures can be taken to improve air quality, such as traffic regulation and promoting public transport.

At the same time, the data collected from air gas sensors can be made available to citizens, encouraging them to adopt more sustainable behaviors to protect their health and that of their fellow citizens.

Building a smart city means improving infrastructure not only for citizens but also for tourists. Hence, touch totems and spaces for municipal bulletin boards become essential. These tools allow tourists to quickly find the information they need, such as locating public transport stops. They also provide a means for local authorities to communicate with citizens about initiatives to improve their well-being, like exhibitions and free museum entry days.

Choosing the Components of the Smart City

Choosing the elements that make up the smart city and redefine a city’s identity after digital transformation is a complex operation. Among the elements that are part of the DNA of a digitally transformed city is urban lighting. We’re talking about adaptive lighting, an advanced technology that adjusts and modulates the activation, deactivation, or intensity of devices dedicated to public and road lighting based on actual traffic, luminance, and weather conditions.

The adaptive lighting system operates based on two parameters: the remote control system and cameras with data preprocessing capabilities. The former is an open connectivity system that connects various light points in the area through specific software. The latter allows lighting devices to communicate with gateways during different monitoring and management phases.

Another element to consider when building a smart city is the fiber that allows all other connected city devices to function optimally. In large cities, the process of cabling streets is advanced, enabling the implementation of more complex projects. However, even in areas where infrastructure hasn’t yet reached a satisfactory level, interventions can improve citizens’ quality of life. In this case, we’re talking about low power, networks based on a free protocol that allows even smaller municipalities to access these services without having to make significant investments to bring in fiber.

An additional element consists of parking sensors, useful not so much for the precise detection of individual municipal parking spaces but for companies or parking lots where you have to pay for parking through a smartphone app. The advantage for citizens is significant since they can get a snapshot of available spaces in a particular parking lot by evaluating the average occupancy of that parking lot through historical data.

For example, the Park Fogazzaro in Vicenza analyzes historical and real-time data on available spaces, providing the likelihood of finding parking in that area.

The potential of this technology is even more significant for disabled parking spaces, offering precise measurements, stating if they are occupied and for how long.