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How Smart City Initiatives Affect the Environmental Services Sector

How Smart City Initiatives Affect the Environmental Services Sector

Businesses within the Environmental Services sector play an important role in the modern economy. Their job (and yours if you happen to work for one) is to balance the continued economic drive for growth and expansion on the one hand while minimising the subsequent effects on the natural environment on the other. The most important factors at play are efficiency & productivity Vs responsibility, governance, compliance and accountability. To ensure that environmental business can manage ‘spinning the plates of good governance, responsibility and accountability’, they need smart ways of working. For this you need a creative, innovative approach to problem-solving, and as much help from new technologies as you can get.

Here is a summary of how Smart City Initiatives are impacting businesses in the UK, and the implications for those in the Environmental Services sector.

What Are ‘Smart’ Initiatives?

So-called smart initiatives are a mixed blessing to Environmental Services. On the one hand they allow an unprecedented level of monitoring and automation, while at the same time adding a new layer of complexity and compliance for private sector organisations and their customers to navigate. Smart City Initiatives are the emerging trend in government led environmental responsibility programmes. Smart Cities are big news in India, China and the USA at present, and to a lesser extent Europe. Although not widely implemented in the UK at the moment, we can already see the beginnings of the initiative in the roll-out of such services as Smart Bins in many British cities, as well as the near ubiquity of smart motorway schemes.

How Smart Cities Work

The idea behind much of the technology of a smart city initiative relate to the use of sensors to record data, manage public assets and to make more productive use of resources. A smart city uses the same principle as the Internet of things, transferred to the public sphere. Different smart assets are equipped with Internet enabled chips linked to a database and central AI that allows real-time feedback based on changing conditions. Integrated smart assets can include refuse & recycling bins, CCTV security cameras, traffic sensors, air quality monitoring equipment, street lights etc.

Practical results of these initiatives can include:

  • Monitoring and improvement of air-quality
  • Congestion control
  • Monitoring of recycling levels, linked to responsive targets
  • Adjustment of the brightness level of street lighting (with implications for crime reduction and reduction of accidents)
  • Energy-saving schemes
  • Noise management and reduction
  • Improvement in inner-city parking availability
  • Improvements in personal security/crime resolution

On a deeper level, Smart City Initiatives can also help facilitate longer term urban planning, such as the placement of new housing and business developments, streamlining of road networks and so on. Data gathered by Smart City sensors can also help generate joint plans and strategies that benefit residents, public organisations and private sector businesses.
Such schemes have already been successfully introduced in Europe, albeit on a limited scale. Examples include the Smart City Initiative in Santander, Spain, whose 20,000 interconnected sensors allow the coordination of traffic lights, identity management (for crime prevention) and effective waste management. London’s SCOOT scheme is also a step towards a Smart City programme, seeking to make traffic light waiting times more efficient for both motorists and pedestrians.

Smart Cities & Environmental Services

Smart City Initiatives have a lot of benefits for private sector Environmental Services companies, first and foremost as a potential source of data. Smart City Data can potentially be used to streamline and improve the services offered by these businesses, leading to greater flexibility and a wider range of responsive services. By encouraging greater cooperation between the business and public sphere, moreover, the scope of what an environmental services practitioner can achieve is greatly increased. Compliance and environmental responsibility become less a matter of box ticking and fulfilling obligations, and more of a dialogue between companies and their public service providers: making the job of sustainable business growth more achievable.

An Integrated Approach to Environmental Services

At Integrated Skills we offer a range of communication, route planning and environmental service management solutions to improve your environmental and operational efficiency. To find out more, please get in touch with one of our team by calling (+44) 2380 737 983, or by sending a message to info@integrated-skills.com.

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