Uppsala at the forefront of smart urban development

In Uppsala, a pilot project is underway to better monitor air pollution in the city. A platform based on IoT, smart sensors and open data will contribute to a more sustainable development.

Exposure to traffic emissions is a major issue in many cities around the world. How can new technology, such as IoT, Internet of Things, contribute to sustainable development?

The question interests researchers from Uppsala University under the direction of Edith Ngai, Assistant Professor at the Department of Information Technology. Together with, among others, Uppsala Municipality and a number of IT businesses, they are developing a platform that will facilitate the measurement and monitoring of air pollution in the city. The project is called Green IoT and the goal is to create a wireless infrastructure to collect environmental data that can contribute to sustainable urban development.

A number of measuring points with wireless sensors are being installed along one of the streets of the city to measure the air quality.

– By using smart sensors, we get a better understanding and overview of the air quality in a wider area of the city. Data that we can analyse and combine with other data, such as information about the weather and traffic, explains Edith Ngai.

The idea is also that the data will provide a better basis for decision-making in the urban planning of the future. The sensor technology can also be used in other areas, such as measuring water quality or energy consumption.

Uppsala is at the forefront of technological development with its test-bed and Edith Ngai believes it can serve as a source of inspiration for many other cities in the world. There is also a lot of interest in the Uppsala project. These include an exchange with Beijing, where the traffic problems are of a very different scale, compared with Uppsala.

Edith Ngai emphasizes the strength of collaborating with both the municipality and private businesses in the project.

– Yes, all elements are necessary. We in the scientific community focus on developing the technology; while the municipalities want to create a sustainable city whose residents have a high quality of life. And the businesses are good at developing and creating new user-friendly products and services. When all the parties meet, discussions are generated resulting in new ideas on how technology can contribute to solutions to societal problems.

The idea is also that all the data will be open and the researchers want to encourage initiatives to create apps and other services for the benefit of the citizens of the city.

– The time has come to use technology to meet the needs of people’s everyday lives. We want to engage businesses, authorities and the public in developing ideas and new services based on the platform and the open data it generates.

Edith Ngai is one of the speakers at UniverCITY Partnerships Conference in Stockholm and Uppsala 12 to 14 October, where she will talk about Green IoT. She is looking forward to hearing the other cities’ experiences on how new technology can be used in urban planning.

– Ultimately, it comes down to how we can improve life in our cities and how we can use technology to solve the challenges we are facing in areas such as traffic problems, energy needs and create sustainable cities.