[SMART CITY FOCUS] New York : a source of innovation

    New York City has been qualified “Best smart City of 2016” at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. At the origin of important innovative projects that revolve around the IoT and digital solutions, the big apple is thinking big in terms of a connected city. Exhibiting solutions such as the deployment of digital kiosks, or telephone booths offering free broadband Internet access, the city promotes the development of IoT projects and offers tools for entrepreneurs. New York highlights the user experience and transport at the heart of its smart city project around intelligent infrastructures. The approach deployed is defined in particular by the positive impact of the city on citizens, residents and tourists. The city’s urban population is growing and this concentration of people is confronting the authorities with new environmental, economic and social challenges and issues.

New York, a source of innovation

A true source of innovation, the city develops different types of projects around several IoT devices:

     New York has established the world’s largest and fastest municipal Wi-Fi network. In 2015, the LinkNYC project transformed more than 7,500 telephone booths into high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in the five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island). With several functionalities, the inhabitants and tourists of the city can call free thanks to the Internet. In addition, they can connect their computers, tablets… and enjoy a fast connection. USB sockets are also available. These kiosks also benefit companies who can put their advertisements in them, clearing users and the town hall of charges.

The deployment of IoT focuses more on collective initiatives (intelligent street lighting) than on isolated projects. NY is refocusing its efforts to “ensure the interoperability of connected infrastructure systems to provide a fundamentally improved user experience“. In particular, urban sensors have been implemented to improve residents’ daily travel in real time. The city also ensures that services communicate with each other. An application of intelligent parking meters and an intelligent lighting system can thus interact with each other. As such, if a user approaches a parking meter, he could book a parking space with his smartphone through an existing payment application. From then on, this parking meter could indicate to the street light its presence, so that it increases its brightness while parking its car.

New York is a city with the most waste in the world; its sanitation service is the largest in the world and collects about 10,500 tons of waste per day. Faced with a logistical challenge, concerning the collection of thousands of bins and waste, the city has set up the “Bigbelly”, an intelligent bin equipped with a wireless sensor that monitors the level of waste, and allows more efficient planning of collection routes. In addition, this system includes a “waste compactor that runs on solar energy, allowing the bin to contain five times more waste than a conventional system“. Big Belly therefore makes it possible to collect waste more efficiently (from 50 to 80%) and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the traffic of garbage trucks on the road.

Thanks to the deployment of information and communication technologies, NY is becoming a real source of innovation around revolutionary projects. Located west of Manhattan between 30th and 34th Street, Hudson Yards will be a fully connected and environmentally friendly neighborhood (expected in 2019). It covers 1.2 million square meters and includes 5000 housing units, business buildings, shops and cultural sites… Certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), it aims to reduce its energy consumption by 30% compared to a conventional construction. It has its own Wi-Fi network “directly integrated into the foundations of buildings“. Finally, the Hudson Yards has sensors that measure noise, air quality, vehicle traffic and pedestrian traffic in real time.

    New York City will be one of the first to adopt the blockchain solution for its smart city project. NY has adopted the IoT standard like Berlin via the non-profit blockchain: the MXProtocol. The integration program will start earlier this year in cooperation with hardware and software companies LPWAN, MatchX, and Citiesense, which will help cities map, analyze and manage their data. As a result, hundreds of smart sensors and low-power wide area network (LPWAN) gateways will be deployed in New York City’s business districts. These sensors will manage local assets and collect data, including for waste management optimization “using detailed information to reduce operational costs and traffic congestion, with the aim of improving the quality of life of local residents“. On a larger scale and according to MXC, good data management can significantly improve efficiency and reduce our environmental impact worldwide. Finally, by integrating the LPWAN standard, this data is transmitted reliably and efficiently.

The “connected Vehicle Pilot Project”

    The city is currently in the second phase of its Connected Vehicle Pilot Project, which began in September 2015 and is expected to be fully implemented in February 2020. Under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Transportation, this initiative focuses on deploying, testing and implementing “mobile and road technologies and enabling multiple vehicle applications“. As part of the “Vision Zero” action plan, this project aims to stop the deaths and damage that road accidents can cause throughout a city. New York is one of the pilot sites for the deployment of new connected vehicle technology. Connected vehicles will be deployed (approximately 8,000) and will include approximately 1,250 buses, 400 local delivery trucks, 500 Department of Transportation and Sanitation vehicles and 5,850 yellow taxis. The pilot project will deploy “more than 15 security applications to provide on-board warnings to drivers”.

Among these security applications, we note:

The V2V (vehicle to vehicle)
– Electronic emergency brake lights
– Crash Warners
– Immediate lane changes

The V2L (infrastructure vehicle)
– Ultraviolet light alarms
– Respect for speed (risk areas, work, school, etc.)

The LVP (from infrastructure to pedestrians)
– Pedestrian mobility (blind at traffic lights)
– Prevention of pedestrians on the roadway

    These applications allow pilots to receive alerts in real time to avoid accidents. At the same time, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has initiated a rule making process that will require this technology on all new vehicles sold in the United States. This project is divided into three phases: the first, the planning phase (September 2016), concerns “a concept of operations, system requirements, security plan, benefits evaluation plan, security management plan and deployment plan“. The second phase, over 6 months, concerns “detailed design, field equipment and procurement development, software development, integration and installation of embedded devices and road infrastructure” and the last phase includes application implementation.

Given the pedestrian density in New York City (8.5 million people), approximately 300 road side units will be installed along Manhattan’s Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and at other strategic locations such as bus depots, rivers and airports. Connected vehicles will use GPS technology for better accuracy. As a result, each vehicle will be able to indicate its position and time from the GPS signal, “then broadcasting (at about 10 times per second) its current position, where it has been (path history for the last few seconds), and its destination to all vehicles in the vicinity“. At the same time, each vehicle will be able to process the messages it receives from other vehicles in the vicinity and identify potentially dangerous situations.

Finally, this project includes the city’s citizen participation. A number of pedestrian advocacy groups are participating and are working on the deployment of two pedestrian-focused applications. The first application will support visual impairment by using geometric information on the intersection and synchronization information from signals transmitted by the intersection to help pedestrians cross the street. The second will focus on pedestrian detection. The team will be able to determine if there is a “potential conflict” between a connected vehicle and a pedestrian on a pedestrian crossing.

Measures, applications and issues:

(New York City DOT, connected vehicles project).

An IoT implementation guide as a model

     New York is not only a smart city; it also encourages and guides the implementation of IoT technology. “Better, faster, more equitable”. New York City, through the implementation of an IoT guideline (led by the Mayor of New York and the Office of Technology), aims to become an influential, “tech-friendly, innovative and equitable city in the world“. For governments, these IoT guidelines are intended to help decision-makers “deploy IoT responsibly and connected devices in a coordinated and coherent way“. The implementation of the IoT in the heart of the city must above all protect and secure the privacy of residents and visitors. At the heart of this issue, this guide highlights the growing rise in the number of connected devices, which will exceed 50 billion in 2020 worldwide, and which pose new challenges. In urban areas, IoT devices are transforming living spaces and paving the way for a “more sustainable future“. The various guidelines in this guide are intended to be the starting point for government agencies and partners in the deployment of new IoT systems in the public space.

This guide highlights five essential points:

1. Confidentiality and transparency

     New York City highlights transparency in data collection, transmission, processing and use. The city wants to make public the entire data collection process and operational responsibilities through a municipal government website. The data in question will be collected for information purposes, in particular for air quality monitoring. This data will be classified as private by objects connected to the heart of the city.

2. Data management

   Data management must be designed to always anticipate demand in order to maximize the benefits of data collection (e.g., waste management based on data on waste volume, weather and events). Data must be collected and “stored according to open standards and be exposed through open interfaces, standards-based application programs (APIs), and provide software development kits (SDKs)“.

3. Infrastructure

   In order to maximize the public interest, the infrastructure must be upgraded with the help of the IoT. City residents must be able to keep informed of the latest IoT measures implemented via the city government website. IoT systems must be designed to maximize resilience, particularly in the event of natural disasters. Critical systems should have emergency response plans in place to ensure appropriate service continuity.

4. Safety and security

    IoT systems must focus on reducing security risks and limiting the potential impact of a security breach (e.g. the publication of personal information), and ensure that all compromises can be quickly detected and managed. In addition, users with access to IoT systems must be identified and authenticated. Finally, the city and its partners must commit to ensuring that systems work and those devices are not compromised.

5. Operations and Sustainability

    IoT devices should help to maximize public benefits and ensure financial, operational and environmental sustainability. The city gives priority access to its assets and public networks for deployments of IoT devices that are distributed equitably to ensure the greatest public interest. The proposed solutions must also be flexible and adaptable to the city as needs evolve.


      The next Smart Cities New York exhibition in May 2019 will highlight the ability of cities to bring innovations and ideas to the international scene. The contribution of technology within cities to transforming citizens’ lives will also be discussed. Always keen to innovate, New York City is positioning itself as a real guide by proposing solutions for the implementation of IoT in the heart of other smart cities. It offers a wide range of connected solutions that it is experimenting with in the heart of its city and that are already showing significant results. These results are beneficial for the city in terms of CO2 reduction, for the citizens who see in these initiatives, a safer way to be in the city, especially with the connected vehicles project. The City of New York thinks the concept of “smart city” for practical, economic and above all security purposes. The big apple therefore thinks the implementation of IoT devices in its smart city as a long-term investment for its citizens, residents and tourists.