Dutch city of Dordrecht uses IoT for smart city planning
Dutch city Dordrecht uses IoT for smart city planning

Dutch city of Dordrecht uses IoT for smart city planning

IoT gateways have been used as part of a smart city research project in the Dutch municipality of Dordrecht. Sensors were introduced to monitor pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, with a view to gathering data and establishing patterns in the flow of commuters. 

A recent United Nations report predicts that the percentage of world’s population living in urban areas will rise from 54 percent in 2014 to 66 percent by 2050. Trends such as this are driving city planners to think more critically about urban development, with a particular focus on traffic flow and crowd control.

Read more: Smart city of Aarhus uses Bluetooth sensors to improve traffic flows

Dordrecht uses Libelium’s Meshlium scanners

Vital to Dordrecht’s smart city experiments were Meshlium scanners, supplied by Spanish IoT provider Libelium.

Meshlium detects the MAC address of smartphones, hands-free systems and cars by scanning for Wi-Fi signals. The IoT Gateways were connected to each other and able to cross-reference different devices and calculate movement speeds. The data was downloaded periodically to a local database for each sensor in order to avoid overloading problems.

The Meshlium sensors were installed in the downtown areas of the city that frequently saw the most traffic, between the center and the railway station. Using the data collected, Dimitris Kyritsis, a surveying and geomatics engineer from Dutch university TU Delft, was able to categorize the devices registered as either ‘pedestrian’, ‘cyclist’ or ‘vehicle’.

The usage of each street, as well as the relationships between different transport categories throughout the day and the preferred streets for each kind of traveller were all stored and analyzed.

Read more: NEC wins contract for Lisbon smart city project

A Meshlium IoT Gateway installed in a streetlight
A Meshlium IoT Gateway installed in a streetlight

Turning data into insights

For a city with no track record of data-based planning, insights into rush hours, recession periods and movement trends have transformed the ability of public authorities to make smarter urban planning decisions.

Passive Wi-Fi monitoring systems such as the Meshlium IoT Gateways could also provide useful information regarding footfall to local advertisers.

“The relevant employees of the Municipality of Dordrecht were totally satisfied with the abilities of the system and the information that it can provide to be used for various purposes such as pre and post processing tool of urban development planning, traffic monitoring system, crowd control, facility usage as well as marketing purposes”, said researcher Dimitris Kyritsis.

The project was assisted by the free WLAN network already established in Dordrecht, he added.

“The ability of Wi-Fi sensors to act as Wi-Fi routers is directly related to the willingness of the Municipality of Dordrecht to set up a free WLAN network. A possible future re-application of this system could be used to evaluate changes and their effect as a post-processing tool of the urban planning of the area”.

Read more: Kigali IoT network provides blueprint for African smart city initiatives