By spreading a large number of sensors across a town or city, planners can get a better idea of what's really going on in real time. As a result, smart city projects are an important feature of IoT. Cities already generate huge amounts of data (from security cameras and environmental sensors) and already contain large infrastructure networks (such as those that control traffic lights). IoT projects aim to connect them together and then add more intelligence to the system.
For example, there are plans to cover Spain's Balearic Islands with half a million sensors and turn it into a laboratory for IoT projects. One plan could involve the regional Social Services Department using sensors to help the elderly, while another could determine if a beach is too crowded and offer alternatives to swimmers. In another example, AT&T is launching a service to monitor infrastructures such as bridges, highways and railroads with LTE-enabled sensors to monitor structural changes such as cracks and inclines.
The ability to better understand how a city operates should allow planners to make changes and monitor how this improves the lives of residents.
Big tech companies see smart city projects as a potentially huge space, and many, including mobile operators and network companies, are now positioning themselves to get involved.