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Open Access Highly Accessed Editorial

On the Internet of Things, smart cities and the WHO Healthy Cities

Maged N Kamel Boulos1* and Najeeb M Al-Shorbaji2

Author Affiliations

1 Plymouth University, Devon, United Kingdom

2 World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2014, 13:10  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-13-10

Published: 27 March 2014

Abstract

This article gives a brief overview of the Internet of Things (IoT) for cities, offering examples of IoT-powered 21st century smart cities, including the experience of the Spanish city of Barcelona in implementing its own IoT-driven services to improve the quality of life of its people through measures that promote an eco-friendly, sustainable environment. The potential benefits as well as the challenges associated with IoT for cities are discussed. Much of the 'big data' that are continuously generated by IoT sensors, devices, systems and services are geo-tagged or geo-located. The importance of having robust, intelligent geospatial analytics systems in place to process and make sense of such data in real time cannot therefore be overestimated. The authors argue that IoT-powered smart cities stand better chances of becoming healthier cities. The World Health Organization (WHO) Healthy Cities Network and associated national networks have hundreds of member cities around the world that could benefit from, and harness the power of, IoT to improve the health and well-being of their local populations.

Keywords:
Urban health; WHO Healthy Cities; Smart cities; Internet of Things; Big data; Smart location; Sensors; Citizen sensing; Participatory governance; Environmental sustainability