Becoming a Smart City Is Not a Goal, It’s a Lifestyle

“We’re not the first or the last people to live on this planet,” said Novo Mesto Deputy Mayor Bostjan Grobler. “Becoming a smart city is not a goal. Keeping our people and environment healthy in order to provide sustainable jobs and attractive living spaces is our goal. Technology helps us achieve that.”

Novo Mesto is a small Slovenian city located on scenic bend of the River Krka. Settled in prehistoric times, the city has always been smart about the way it manages its resources. The idea of keeping the air, water, and soil clean for future generations is deeply ingrained in the collective mindset. Citizens and tourists can jump into the river for a swim right from the town’s main square.

Start with Clean Air

Like many other cities in Europe, Novo Mesto has been struggling with air pollution for the past decade.

It is at its worst during winter months when measurements often show the presence of soot particles that exceed the European Union’s limits of safe particulate matter (PM) of 40 micrograms per cubic meter, several times per week. There are different types of particulate matter; the most frequently measured are particles in the air that are 10 microns in diameter or smaller. These particles are referred to as PM10. As a reference, consider that a micron is a millionth of a meter, and a human hair is about 75 microns thick.

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies safe levels of PM10 as under 20 micrograms per cubic meter. The German city of Mannheim, for example, has a yearly average of 22 micrograms as compared to Novo Mesto’s yearly average of 27. These are low averages compared to Shanghai, which averages 84, but even these levels can contribute to heart and lung disease and or irritation of lung passages – especially when they exceed 40 micrograms per cubic meter.

Year after year Novo Mesto received reports of high levels of PM10, but city leaders were uncertain how to fix it.

“We obviously had to do something,” said Peter Gersic, project development manager for the municipality of Novo Mesto. “Air pollution does not go away by itself. But frankly, we didn’t know what to do with the data.”

Novo Mesto is Becoming a Smart City

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Novo Mesto is Becoming a Smart City

Video by Angela Klose

After conducting research, the city turned to SAP and Telekom Slovenia. Juraj Kovac, a Telekom business analyst with the right technical credentials for implementing smart city solutions, explained how it worked. Sensors were installed all over the city to gather data – not only on air pollution but on other important environmental metrics including water usage and light pollution.

“We use SAP Leonardo to collect the data, and SAP Analytics to analyze it,” said Kovac. “All our IoT platforms run on the SAP Cloud Platform. The data is used by the municipal government to make operational decisions and by citizens, using mobile apps, for example, to find parking spaces.”

Improve Urban Life

The deputy mayor realizes that managing city resources is not just a job for the government. The job is also about helping people make lifestyle changes. “If we want people to drive less, we need to give them alternatives like public transport and bike paths,” explained Grobler. “It’s not enough to motivate people to buy electric cars. We have to make sure they can easily park and recharge them.”

What Novo Mesto hopes to achieve with smart technology on a small scale is already happening in cities on every continent. From green buildings and sensor-based trash collection to more public transportation and online citizen services, smart cities are revolutionizing urban living.

New York City, for example, has been named as the most developed smart city in the world for two years in a row due to its use of an automated metering system to better understand how its 8.5 million people use 1 billion gallons of water each day. London, second on the list, has been recognized for its mass transport system and urban planning policies.

The Toronto Transit Commission uses SAP technology to optimize process visibility and communication for the diverse staff that keeps the city moving. SAP IoT Technology is helping the city of Antibes better manage its water resources. The city of Nanjing is using SAP traffic sensor technology to achieve a greener, humanistic culture.

Thanks to its forward-thinking use of technology and sustainability efforts, Novo Mesto is proof that a city of any size can serve as an example of quality urban life for generations to come.

This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.
Top image via video.