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Guiding Future Development with IoT Gathered Data

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Most cities are in the process of or starting to install IoT enabled sensors – the majority of these are currently being used to give the city the ability to make real time recommendations. For example when there is poor air quality in one area of a city the administration can inform the public and advise them not to visit or travel through that area. The advantages of such real-time data are numerous, but they are not the only positive impact that IoT gathered data can have on the city.

Cities are constantly changing, new buildings, roads and railways replace old ones and the needs and requirements of the citizens are evolving due to new technologies and smarter ways of doing things around the city. So how about using the data that is gathered from IoT sensors to guide future development?

Developments could be planned on actual data, rather than estimated data. When planning a new area would it not be useful to know how many people visit that area on any given day? That data would tell you how many people are visiting at the weekend or on a Tuesday afternoon – valuable insight that can be utilised during the planning phase.

Another interesting idea about such forward planning would be that data from other developments could be utilised. When planning the re-generation a certain area there may not be much value in knowing how many people visit the area as it is now, one of the aims of the re-generation would most likely be to increase the number of people that are living, working or visiting the area. What would be useful would be to look at data from other regeneration projects, not only in one city, but from cities across the nation. This may seem hopeful or far fetched, but there is no technological reason why this should not happen, there are though many bureaucratic barriers to such data sharing.

Let’s look at this from one city perspective. Let’s say that Paris is planning on a regeneration project in one of its suburb areas. Rather than just guessing what the impact of that will be they can look at similar developments in the city and see what the impact on numerous factors has been. The data can be used to inform and guide future development, it can also be used as a guide as to what has or has not worked previously.

I am not trying to say that cities should only plan on the basis of such data, but it should be added into the mix when planning for the future. They can use it in their interactions with citizens during the planning process, they can say “We have looked at X number of developments and see that Y and Z have been a success, what do you feel if we were to implement these in your area?”

Citizen engagement is always an integral part of making sure that any development project is a success, but a lot of the time if you ask people directly what they want they may be unsure about what to say, but by using data from other projects it will get them thinking about what they need and it will assist in the engagement process.

This is not to say that every area is the same and that developments should be homogenous. Every development is different and the needs of one community could be very different to the needs of another, but using IoT gathered data should be a valuable asset for city planners in the years to come.