How City Engineers will Address Big Data Challenges in Smart Cities

Cities around the world are working to transition their infrastructure and systems into smart cities. Transportation and city development experts agree that the use of public big data will need physical objects and an elaborate scheme to drive the future of data-driven city engineering.

The evolution of the Internet of Things and big data continues to play an essential role in smart city initiatives and offers the potential for city planners to gain valuable insight about traffic patterns and other interests to help make our cities safer and more efficient.

With the use of new technology like local sensors, radio-frequency identification, and Bluetooth devices that collect and share data across a system of highly networked services. Sharing this information opens new avenues to reach the vision, principles, and requirements of a smart city.

With this improved and “smart” way of life, there has been an increased demand for the information technology industry. As cities rely on technology, there is a more significant need to manage bytes of data and processing that data to make a meaningful impact on city life.

The Data Challenge with Smart Cities

Smart cities are beginning to play a more prominent role than ever before in transforming transportation, health, and energy in our expanding urban landscapes. IoT and big data have allowed officials and policymakers to gather valuable data to improve the health and happiness of citizens.

Since networked systems like smart cities require large amounts of data and advanced analytical models to achieve their goals, some data security experts warn against the impacts that hacking, data loss, and glitches can have on a smart city.

This concern is not unfounded, as smart city development relies heavily not only on the collection of data from various devices but the system that powers the entire system will be run through cloud computing technology.

While cloud computing technologies continue to show improvements, their adoption for smart city integration introduces several issues in security management that officials need to consider.

There is a balance between data accessibility and the security of data, specifically sensitive data. Not only doe smart cities need to have a reliable and secure method to collect, analyze, and implement their data, data-driven cities also have to have customized services based on the needs of their residents.

Reaching this goal can be made more difficult since past infrastructure and policies were created when smart cities, IoT, and big data were not dreamed of yet. This means that making cities smart isn’t a transformation that can happen in the blink of an eye.

A smart city not only needs to manage data correctly, but it also has to have a system to help understand and process data for automation technologies is vital to the development of a smart city.

By analyzing data, key players can gain an understanding of the effectiveness of tech systems and can further drive the creation of automated infrastructures.

Security risks can plague a city that is built on data and smart technologies. While cyber attacks on cities remain rarely seen, the dangers facing smart cities will increase as more smart cities are developed, and advanced technologies are integrated into the urban landscape.

Data Management Examples Around the World

Data analysis is the primary source of growth and wellbeing for any city, and this data is often used to improve the livelihood of citizens and to make cities more sustainable and efficient.

Cities already utilize smart technologies in many ways. For example, cities gather data about energy and water consumption to identify faulty municipal systems along with specific methods.

This data is processed through advanced algorithms to help experts make important decisions on-the-fly to preserve resources and make operations more efficient.

IoT technologies have been implemented in a variety of ways for different cities around the world. Here are a few ways that cities are using advanced technology to make their cities more sustainable, safer, and more efficient for citizens.


All cities deal with waste and traffic, and Stockholm is leading the effort to make their fleet of waste management trucks more efficient and more sustainable. City developers are accomplishing this by outfitting many of their waste-collection vehicles with smart applications to address waste and inner-city traffic.

By using hundreds of thousands of data points, Stockholm officials were able to identify inefficiencies in waste collection routes throughout their city. As a result, Stockholm is using their analysis to create a progressive waste management plan to make waste collection safer and more sustainable while also addressing the needs of their growing city.

The City of Helsinki

Traffic issues plague most urban areas, and the City of Helsinki is no different. However, unlike other city centers, Helsinki has chosen to use open public data from individuals, academia, and research institutions to address transportation issues citizens face each day.

Instead of widening roads or other inefficient means of addressing traffic congestion, Helsinki leads smart cities with their take on Mobility As A Service (MaaS). Their comprehensive transportation system integrates multi-modal transport systems that include buses, taxis, and rail systems.

All of these individual components run off of a more extensive network from big data and data-driven devices to allow transportation modal shifts when needed throughout the day. This has resulted in fewer traffic jams and faster transportation around the city for all citizens.

City of Copenhagen

Since 2014, Copenhagen has been recognized as one of the leading smart cities from around the world. As Copenhagen continues to grow, city developers have had to find ways to emphasize the use of technology in different ways to better the environment and their citizens.

Copenhagen officials have integrated smart parking, blockchain applications, and other advanced processing techniques in their transportation and energy sectors.

This approach to smart city development has allowed Copenhagen to grow at an impressive rate while also ensuring the success of local citizens and the sustainability of their environment.

Looking To The Future Of Smart Cities

As city officials look for ways to improve the sustainability of their environment and increase the health and happiness of their citizens, experts will need to find new and innovative ways to use data in the future.

Smart devices will continue to gather and analyze data throughout the city, and algorithms will be used to help experts reach their goals.

With the development of more smart cities, policies will – and are – being enacted. These policies will be used to govern the technologies that are used to run smart cities, thereby further improving the security and overall quality of life of residents. Systems will serve as a guideline for smart cities, which will further enhance the benefits that they provide.

As technology continues to advance and more and more cities become “smart,” policies will continue to be developed, modified, and put into place to improve the efficiency of the smart city.