TechBite on Satellites and Future Cities

Key insights and resources emerging from an IET Satellite Systems and Applications Technical and Professional Network seminar in September 2015.

The rapid growth of urbanisation being experienced around the globe looks set to continue – according to the United Nations, the level of urban growth is projected to rise by 67 per cent by 2050, a level that is already being exceeded in parts of the EU. This has resulted in a push for the development of ‘smart cities’, which use technological solutions to manage resources sustainably.

With a growing demand for effective and innovate solutions, more attention is now being given to how space
Image of city centre with skyscrapers and blurred headlights of passing cars technologies, such as satellites, could play a key role. Used in a number of ways, from communications and
environment monitoring through to navigation and security, their role regarding smart cities is predicted to
grow rapidly over the next decade.

Satellite communications is just one of the technologies that will support the growth of smart cities, as
Ian Downey, UK Ambassador of the Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) Programme at the European
Space Agency (ESA) highlights.

Technological demands

“Increased populations in urban areas around the globe will place high demands on communications and
broadcasting infrastructure, control systems, transport logistics and coordination of emergency services etc,”
says Downey. “This requires high service resilience, continuity and interoperability and provides opportunities
for the combination and integration of satellite communications, long-duration high altitude platforms (HAP)
and terrestrial communications networks.”

View Ian Downey’s presentation: City Opportunities for Satellite Based Applications

In terms of satellite navigation, position, navigation and timing data are available from GNSS (global navigation
satellite systems), which is enabling delivery of a variety of location-based services. Then there is earth
observation (EO), that involves imaging of the Earth’s surface, and a variety of EO derived products are already
available to service smart city applications.

“These include the Copernicus Urban Atlas, soil sealing services, routine air quality model outputs, thermal
mapping of urban heat island effects and heat loss, light pollution, urban planning and change detection,”
notes Downey.

The growth of automated vehicles

Satellite technology also has a role to play in the growth of automated vehicles, which will contribute to the safe
and efficient movement of people, goods and services within smart cities.

“Satellites could be used for monitoring and mapping directions so that automated vehicles would always
receive up to date information about the status of their anticipated routes. Observations from satellites could also
assist in making rational judgments about how to alter urban designs to account for changes in parking, traffic
and public transport provision as automated vehicles become more prevalent,” says Nick Reed, TRL Academy

View Nick Reed’s presentation GATEway – Automated Vehicles and Smart Cities

Research for many of these satellite-focused smart city technologies is already underway – for example TRL
is leading the two-year, £8m GATEway project to test the use of automated vehicles in urban environments.
This will investigate the use of driverless shuttles as a public transport service, autonomous valet parking and
automated delivery vehicles.

Collaboration is key to success

There are many challenges ahead for all these technologies, such as standardisation, but there are also many
opportunities and Downey notes, success may well depend on collaboration.

“The need is for large-scale collaboration by players who can collectively deploy the full range of tools and
solutions, most of which have already been developed and proven. To do this the respective players must reach
out and engage with or develop bigger programmes built on a vision of the long-term aims, with a detailed
roadmap to get there,” he concludes.

What do you think? Connect with the IET Satellites Community and comment on these insights.

View the rest of the presentations below by visiting www.theiet.org/space

  • Future of Cities: Thinking for the long-term - Charles Jans
  • Smart Cities: Build from the pavement up - Ed Parsons
  • Closing the Gap: Future Cities and Space - Simon Agass
  • How does the new tech enable value? - Jon Hill
  • Transformations in Satellite Navigation and their Potential in Our Connected World - Richard Bowden
  • High Altitude Pseudo Satellite – Challenges and Benefits to Future Cities - Steve Whitby
  • Minutes Mean More than Miles - Peter Lilley
  • Resilient Communications and Space Applications - Mike Holdsworth
  • Transport Systems Catapult - Neil Fulton

Watch the Satellite Systems and Applications Network’s Hot Topic Film: How will satellites help us achieve future cities?

Join in the discussion

Take a look at the IET Satellite Systems and Applications Community and get involved with the latest discussions on Satellites and Future Cities.