The clever country: how engineers are designing smarter cities

Our everyday life is already made easier and safer by technology. Think: smart bins, smart intersections and smart lifsaving. Image: Shutterstock

Thanks to engineers, the cities of the future will be smarter, safer and more sustainable.

Engineers are changing the way we run everyday activities and how we interact with the urban environment. Using technology and data, they’re creating the smart cities of the future.

By integrating sensors into the urban landscape and infrastructure, engineers can collect a wealth of data. For example, sensors can collect air and water quality measures, data from public transport, weather conditions or traffic. But how can this data be used effectively?

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The answer lies in the Internet of Things (IoT): networks of objects able to communicate with each other through the Internet. For example, imagine weather sensors that automatically activate sprinklers.

Our everyday life is already made easier and safer by technology. Think: smart bins, smart intersections and smart lifsaving…

Smart bins

Last year, Randwick Council in Sydney installed smart bins that compact the rubbish internally, lock when full and send an alert so a crew can empty them immediately.

Council’s like Randwick’s are becoming seriously future-focused.

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Smart intersections

Engineers from the University of Melbourne are testing a system where cars and people’s mobile phones sense each other at a busy intersection. The system sends a signal to the pedestrian and the car if they are heading into a collision.

Smart lifesaving technology

At Lake Macquarie City Council, as the smart city lead, Claire collects data from sensors on local beaches to provide lifeguards with immediate, continuous surf conditions and crowd numbers. This helps them determine what resources are required to keep the beaches safe and user-friendly.

Lifeguards are pretty teched up these days.

But who is building these smart cities?

Electrical and electronic engineers are working on building better sensors, while software engineers are improving how sensors work. Artificial intelligence and machine learning engineering are at the core of sensors’ technology, and a lot of job opportunities will generate from these expanding areas.

Another massive area continuing to gain momentum is the field of data analytics. “There’s no point collecting all these data and doing nothing with it. We need to be able to tell stories from data,” says engineer and smart city lead, Claire Chaikin-Bryan. Data Analytics is fundamental to finding patterns
in the data that give useful information.

But smart cities are not only about placing sensors, collecting and interpreting data.

Mechatronics engineers are building autonomous vehicles and sophisticated robots; and chemical and environmental engineers play a crucial role in areas such as energy efficiency, air and water pollution, sewage and waste treatment. The possibilities are endless and unfolding.

“People talk about it as a destination, but it’s more like a journey that you are continually updating and continually evaluating,” says Claire. – Manuela Callari

Start your career here

Engineering +future living study

Engineering +future living jobs

  • Data analyst: $51K–$99K
  • Software engineer: $56K–$115K Office manager: $46K–$82K
  • City planner: $51K–$99K*

*Source: salaries according to payscale.

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2020.

STEM Contributor

Author: STEM Contributor

This article was written by a STEM Contributor for Careers with STEM. To learn more, please visit our contact page.

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