Week 13b-Smart City studies—Songdo and Chicago’s strategies in traffic management

One of the very basic features the smart city has is to gather and utilize vast amounts of data from the network of various sensors, which can serve multiple functions ranging from detecting emission, noise, and weather to structural cracks, parking availability, traffic conditions and pedestrian behaviours. All that data from these sensors will be collected, analysed and monitored in real-time by the central monitoring hub to optimize every function of the city, which gives the potential to have a significant impact for traffic management. (Gooderham, Mary, 2012) For example, sensors lining a highway could detect obstacles, hazards and the level of traffic on the road and pass that information to road users.

In regards to traffic management and congestion, the cities of Chicago and Songdo in South Korea have been world leaders. These cities have demonstrated how the use of Smart City technology can be instrumental in mitigating traffic congestion.

The city of Chicago uses GPS within its public buses to not only provide information on the arrival time, but to also estimate traffic congestion throughout Chicago. The bike-sharing racks around the city provide data on where bikes are available at any time. 3D-printed sensors (Fig. 3) are deployed on traffic light poles around the downtown area of Chicago that post data such as sound and vibration around the city to the open data website.

With the sensors and networks, smart traffic management will enable car drivers to face less traffic jams, as data will tell which areas are busy. Traffic lights automatically adjust to reduce congestion. Smart parking sensors automatically alert drivers for free parking spaces (Fig.4)and street lights are only be turned on only if someone is approaching, saving a lot of energy.(Josh Taylor, 2014)

Fig.1 3D-printed sensors, image by City of Chicago
Fig.2 Sensors to detect parking lot, image by Libelium

Fig.3 Sensors to detect driving distance, image by Libelium

In Songdo, South Korea (Fig 6.), another noticeable case to build a smart city, every inch of the city has been wired up with fibre optic broadband keeping people connected. And almost any device, building or road in Songdo will be equipped with wireless sensors or RFID (radio frequency identification) microchips, sending a constant data stream to computer processors that keep the city operating. This will result in smart innovations such as streetlights that automatically adjust to the number of people out on the street or houses in equipped with sensors that can be managed via a large TV in the living room of each residency. Next to the homes, screens will be available in all offices, hospitals, schools and shopping centres.

To deal with traffic, Songdo uses RFID tags on cars to send geo-location data to a central hub identifying black spots and congested areas, which helps in tweaking signals to ease congestion. (Fig. 5) Also the public transportation is completely wired and all locations are always known.

In other words, Songdo is like a living organism. The city’s infrastructure contains sensors that monitor and regulate everything from temperature to energy consumption and traffic. (Rita Lobo, 2014)

“Sensors are the central nervous system of the technologies deployed throughout Songdo, whether it is fire and safety monitoring for the 8,500 residents of our First World Towers or the flow monitors controlling how the Central Park saltwater canal is fed and refreshed. It is being studied by many countries, many mayors, many governors as an example of a smart and connected community and a more efficient way of organizing urban living. We hope we contribute to the global footprint in a positive way.”

–Stan Gale, chairman of Gale International

Fig.4 Bird’s view rendering of Songdo IBD, image by Gale International

Collaborating with ITS (Intelligent Transport System) technology, smart cities allow high-speed communication among vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructures. As a result, tomorrow’s driving assistance systems can go far beyond their present capabilities by implementing co-operation and information exchange in order to collectively perceive the context. (Gooderham, Mary, 2012)


Gooderham, Mary. ‘Smart Cars, Smart Roads.’ The Globe and Mail, Feb 18, 2012. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/922028199?accountid=12763>

Josh Taylor. ‘Chicago’s smart city: From open data to rat control’, viewed 31 May 2015, <http://www.zdnet.com/article/chicagos-smart-city-from-open-data-to-rat-control/


James Day. ‘Songdo in South Korea leading charge to become city of the future’, viewed 31 May 2015, <http://metro.co.uk/2012/01/09/songdo-in-south-korea-leading-charge-to-become-city-of-the-future-279407/>

John Edit. “Songdo, South Korea: Utopian City of Big Data and Urban ‘Sustainability’”, viewed 31 May 2015, <http://www.wilderutopia.com/sustainability/land/songdo-south-korea-utopian-city-of-big-data-and-urban-sustainability/>


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com 徽标

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  更改 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  更改 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  更改 )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  更改 )

Connecting to %s