How IoT and Traffic Reduction Aid Smart Cities in Fighting Climate Change?

Cities are responsible for most of the world's economic activity, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. The major contributors to carbon footprints are food, consumption, transportation, and household energy.

Today, metropolitan areas are populated with 55% of the world's population, and this figure is expected to rise to 68% with 6 billion urban dwellers by 2050. Cities are responsible for most of the world's economic activity, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. The major contributors to carbon footprints are: food, consumption, transportation, and household energy.

Cities Have a Role to Play in Combating Climate Change

Environmental degradation already is costing India approximately US$80 billion per year or 5.7% of GDP. India's emerging cities are critical to the country's economy, with up to 75% of the national GDP contributing by 2020. 

India has voluntarily committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.05-Mar-2021. Smart cities are expected to play an essential role in achieving these goals. The term smart city covers a wide range of initiatives, and these initiatives provide towns with the opportunity to innovate. The need of the hour for smart city planners is to come out with a holistic and integrated development plan for citizen services that are fundamentally based on connected technologies, principles of sustainability, and green initiatives!  Several Indian companies have voluntarily committed to combat climate change, including targets for renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric mobility, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and internal carbon pricing to aid in meeting these goals. There is so much room for improvement. 

Electric vehicles provide a long-term solution

The majority of atmospheric carbon dioxide comes from cities because transportation is the most significant contributor to CO2 emissions. While there are options of making the city to go car-free like Oslo, reducing reliance on cars by half like Vancouver, or encouraging citizens to completely switch from personal to public transportation; there implementation in our country is far-fetched, if not impossible. The ray of hope is the green initiatives taken by the automotive industry in reducing emissions by heavily investing in the development of electric vehicles (EVs). While India is still at a nascent EV market, Indian government has rolled multiple incentives both at national and sub-national levels, such as National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME), as well as the New Vehicle Scrappage Policy, incentivising fiscal and non-fiscal benefits to facilitate transition towards EV at mass level. As witnessed, EVs are getting adopted first in cities, as the establishment of a widespread public fast-charging network becomes the focus of States. If there is any hope of reducing the effects of climate change, then immediate action must be taken to reduce current CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels and EV presents itself as a viable long-term solution. EV fleets can easily substitute diesel use and converting diesel vehicles to alternate green fuels such as natural gas can lead the way to a greener India.

Sensor Technology for Better Driving and Parking

Unpredictable reactions to an ever-changing environment cause traffic congestion. There will be traffic if there is a human element involved in driving a vehicle. While self-driving cars are not far in the future, the technology can be deployed today to support drivers and reduce the amount of time they spend driving, thereby lowering each vehicle's carbon footprint.

Sensor technology and wireless connectivity are the foundations of a smart city. When innovative features on automobiles are combined, they form a vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication network that can guide drivers around hazards, congested areas, and other obstacles that increase time spent in the car.

Smart traffic lights that are IoT-enabled can collect traffic data and use machine learning to create efficient traffic control schemes. V2I communication can also direct drivers to available parking spaces, reducing the amount of time a driver spends looking for a spot. All these intelligent infrastructures can be outfitted with IoT sensors that monitor pollution and air quality, identifying areas that require special attention to reduce carbon emissions.

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) can reduce Carbon Footprint

Cities have previously offered carpooling incentives and improved public transportation to reduce the number of cars on the road. The Delhi government instituted the odd-even scheme in 2016, 2017, and then again in 2019. Urban areas are now expanding these efforts into broader MaaS solutions as part of IoT-enabled smart city initiatives. MaaS enables residents to travel as efficiently as possible without adding another vehicle to the road. Municipalities can collect valuable data that help improve traffic flows, manage MaaS distribution, guide maintenance decisions, and facilitate emergency crew deployment when combined with more significant smart city initiatives such as V2I and sensor technology. These improvements will result in fewer cars on the road and fewer unnecessary trips by the vehicles that are already on the street, resulting in a reduction in CO2 emissions overall.

In conclusion

Like all climate initiatives, IoT-enabled traffic reduction is only one tool in the global fight against climate change. To take the global climate crisis seriously and support practical solutions, governments, private companies, and individuals worldwide have to collaborate and work together.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house