Smart city breaks for IoT enthusiasts

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Read our guide to hotspots for tech-loving travelers.

While millions will be packing their bags and heading to a beach this summer, technophiles have another option for their vacation: visit a smart city. Navigant Research claims the global market for smart city solutions and services may reach nearly $98 billion in 2026. Here is just a small sample of smart city projects that are already worth investigating.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm has been working towards a greener future since the early 1990s. Since then it has cut carbon emissions by a quarter per citizen and now has ambitious plans to be completely fossil-fuel free by 2040 (and the smartest city in the world, too). In recent years, there has been widespread deployment of smart water, gas and electricity meters. It has also deployed motion-control LED lighting for pedestrian and bicycle paths as well as smart waste bins that pack trash down and notify the city when they need to be emptied (thereby reducing collection by two-thirds). Stockholm is also keen to foster innovative waste, transport and energy schemes with third parties by sharing its sensor data.

Alba Iulia, Romania

Historic Romanian city Alba Iulia has a 2,000-year history. It also has free Wi-Fi on every bus and over 228 Wi-Fi municipal access points. The Wi-Fi isn’t just for convenience (though many of the 66,000 people who live there use it); it also helps support the hundreds of sensors the city has installed across its water and lighting systems. Using LoRA WAN connectivity provided by Orange Romania, this has already halved street light electricity consumption. The city expects this smart infrastructure will be worth millions to its future economy.

Lyon, France

UNESCO World Heritage site, France’s ancient and beautiful Lyon, isn’t just famous for its trompe l’oeil. It's also the birthplace of one of the world’s first bike-sharing schemes, Vélo’v, and provides a free autonomous bus service along five stops called Navly. The city (which has an extensive software development industry) boasts smart car sharing schemes, smart parking, passenger and road traffic management along with connected environmental monitoring solutions. The city is working to deploy smart digital and mobility services and to create smart grids and hopes to enable exciting new innovations on the back of these digital investments.

Msheireb, Qatar

The Middle East is a hotbed of smart city development. Qatar’s historic Msheireb Downtown Doha district is being transformed into a poster child for what smart cities can be. There are already 500,000 sensors there, monitoring everything to deliver a dazzling array of smart services, from smart building operations, fire alarms, security – even automated waste collection. These are supported by applications such as smart energy management and smart parking services. The huge project comprises hundreds of residential, medical and commercial buildings. Orange is a consulting and technology partner on this project.

Msheireb Downtown Doha district

Montgenèvre, France

One of the first ski resorts in France, Montgenèvre, is now the world’s first smart ski resort. The city has deployed free Wi-Fi and a sophisticated mobile app designed to make it easier for visitors and residents. This provides everything you need to enjoy time at the resort: ski lift times, snow reports, live video from the pistes, mapping and more. The implementation also extends to shuttle bus schedules, local information and data analysis that the city can use to help make smarter choices.

Singapore

The best performing smart city according to Juniper Research, Singapore has it all. You’ll find interactive maps and free Wi-Fi at bus stops, with connected solutions designed to boost health, safety and productivity of all the city-state’s residents. Sensors manage and monitor everything from traffic control to public cleanliness and crowd density. Smart energy meters give residents the information they need to manage consumption. Smart cars are part of this vision: students at its university are developing a 3D-printed autonomous smart car and the city is committed to approving smart vehicles for use on its streets as soon as possible.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona has engaged in multiple smart city-focused projects: smart street lighting, Wi-Fi on public transport, sensor-based telecare services for elderly people, even motion-activated LED streetlights that save energy by only switching on when people need them. The city has installed rain and humidity sensors to help optimize irrigation of its parks and has smart parking systems, waste management and traffic congestion systems in place. You’ll even find USB charging points at some bus stops.

Irvine, California

Property developers are recognizing the need to deploy smart home technologies in new build homes. Brookfield Residential has built some of the first smart-by-design homes in Irvine, California. These new buildings have smart home technology built in. New residents can expect smart locks, lighting, thermostats, smart blinds and more. The new estate is surely a go-to destination for anyone who wants to find out more about what it's like to live in a smart home. Across the U.S., cities are investing in smarter systems. In Portland, Oregon for example, over 200 sensors are being installed to monitor vehicle traffic to make streets safer.

Dubai, UAE

Built from the ground up, Silicon Park is Dubai’s flagship smart city project. You’ll find smart transport systems equipped with free Internet connectivity, charging docks and everything else you might expect from a city already equipped with smart transport systems. The city is also working to deploy smart utilities, public services and autonomous vehicles. The Park is a test bed for the UAE’s wider economic development plans, which extend to training tomorrow’s generation of advanced tech talent and the promotion of digital industries.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Department for Infrastructure, Traffic and Transportation (DIVV) has made all its traffic and transportation data available for use by developers. This has nurtured the evolution of a wide range of apps (such as weCity and Spotted by Locals) to help people get around the city. Amsterdam also has a unique form of autonomous transportation, its roboat fleet of autonomous delivery and taxi boats.

To find out more about smart city projects, take a look at our Smart Cities and Smart Territories whitepaper.