Population increase and the smart city

By | 3 minute read | May 3, 2017

There are many factors which cause the global population to fluctuate, with the post world-war II baby boom causing the most significant increase. Although population growth comes with many positive factors, such as increased numbers of workers, expansion of tax bases and increased consumer spending at local businesses, it causes huge strain on resources and cities. As the Internet of Things continues to become more embedded in our everyday lives, it can help improve the negative effects of urban migration we face today.


Urbanization refers to the natural shift of the population from rural to urban areas, usually a result of job hunting and searching for a better quality of life. The United Nations has predicted that by 2050, about 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized. More people than ever are living in cities, with estimations of an average 60% global population live with 5k of a city. One thing is for certain when urbanization at this rate occurs, and that is the strain on public services and resources rapidly increases.

An opportunity to make our cities smart

By 2100 the global population is expected to reach 11 billion people, but we should see this as an exciting opportunity to use the Internet of Things in formatting smart cities. A truly smart city requires a complete rethink of how it can provide a better, more seamless experience for its residence. By having IoT devices collect and analyze data from sensors, lights, and meters, it will help planners make decisions about improving infrastructure, services and utilities.

Crowd control

Large groups of people create even larger amounts of data, which help us to understand the reasons behind crowd formation, as well as predict future movements and actions. As the world’s population grows and cities become denser, these events become more frequent—and cities are trying desperately to predict and understand them.

When a crowd forms, there is an unplanned need for services, including meeting their needs (food and drink) and ensuring their safety (emergency services and security). If this can be done at a faster pace with greater understanding, it can be better controlled, improving safety.

Does a bigger population mean more transport?

One of the biggest challenges is finding a way for the road network to facilitate increased numbers of vehicles. One thing is clear, that as the population density of cities increases, there is a greater need for pedestrian traffic and denser forms of transport, i.e. public transport or cycling.

Reducing the number of cars on the road will be hard because people want convenience. One of the main causes of congestion is parking, it’s usually inefficient, time-consuming, and frustrating.

Smart parking projects use sensors and devices throughout cities to help drivers quickly locate parking spaces and remove the need for lengthy searches for an open spot. With companies such as Smart Parking Limited (ASX:SPZ) offering on-road and off-road parking availability through an app, it starts to help in the reduction of urban traffic congestion.

Smart waste management

Smart waste management applies the Internet of Things to rapidly improve efficiency. Global waste is expected to double in the next 10 years due to our ever-growing population, so it is vital there are big changes to reduce the effect we are having on landfill sites, as well as the effect we’re having on global warming.

The idea of smart waste management is to use connected sensors in the city, as well as making rubbish containers connected, which will inform on waste levels, meaning the bins/containers are only connected when necessary. The collection vehicles will be fuel saving, take smart routes detected by sensors and be sustainably complacent. If all done correctly, waste collection costs will reduce by 80% over the next decade.

The future of the smart city

The growth of smart cities should only accelerate over the coming years – their potential is limitless and although they are expensive to plan and implement initially, they will only benefit residents by improving living cost, health, and quality of life. To find out more about IoT and its use in other industries, visit our website. Or comment and let us know how you think your city could become smarter.