First came smartphones. Then, smart home technology. And now: smart cities. Santander, Spain, offers a telling example. Since 2010, the charming old port city has installed more than 12,000 sensors that monitor everything from traffic patterns to soil dampness in park lawns, trash in dumpsters, air pollution levels, and more. City managers use the data to schedule garbage pickups, program municipal sprinklers, and dim lights in public buildings that aren’t in use. Estimated savings: double-digit reductions in annual waste-management and energy costs.
Santander isn’t alone, either. Vienna, Paris, Toronto, Melbourne, San Jose, California, and dozens of other cities now boast similar types of networks. Look for more to come as municipalities — and technology providers — capitalize on the possibilities.