Reducing Natural Disasters in Smart Cities
by Jane Marsh
The U.S. lost billions of dollars to natural disasters in 2022 due to climate change, and this is not stopping anytime soon.
Aside from the economic effect of natural disasters, the country recorded more than 300 deaths in the same year, which shows why there’s an urgent need to save the world from further catastrophes.
Smart cities operate on high-level technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor circumstances in real time. Despite this advantage, they are not spared from natural disasters brought by extreme weather conditions. However, they can use IoT to manage situations in times of calamity.
What Is a Smart City?
In a smart city, existing networks and services are enhanced with advanced digital technologies such as IoT to benefit locals and businesses. This tech manages resources and reduces pollution but also goes above and beyond.
An innovative city has adequate water supply and waste management networks, better transportation links, and smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. It also entails creating a local administration that is more efficient and engaging, provides public safety, and addresses the requirements of an aging population.
How Smart Cities Can Reduce Natural Disasters
Smart cities can utilize IoT real-time data to remotely control devices, which can aid in effective planning, decision-making, and dissemination of information during natural disasters. This makes it easier for officials to keep citizens safe and improve the chances of less structural damage.
Here are some steps innovative cities can take to reduce the impacts of natural disasters:
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can use data gathered by IoT to predict impending weather calamities. These new and advanced technologies can learn to anticipate various natural disasters, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions.
The severity of climate change will increase, and pollution will continue to spread. Little can be done to stop these catastrophes from worsening, but technology can predict when and where they might occur. Residents can prepare for an evacuation, gather in a shelter, or stock up on supplies with just a little advance notice.
Various sensors held by multiple parties, including transit service providers and weather observatories, are already in place to track foot traffic and weather conditions. A neutral, centralized platform that can compile all these data sources, do extensive analysis, and generate recommendations is the piece that needs to be added.
Cities can gain data insights to improve their catastrophe preparedness by utilizing different sources in real time. The optimal times to leave for work can also be calculated — if other services are overloaded, residents can select the best mode of transportation. Also, fewer vehicles will be stranded in emergencies if drivers are informed of weather disruptions.
Operations may take a while to be up and running in disasters, resulting in economic disruptions. This is why it’s crucial to have several preventive measures, such as a sound drainage system, to divert water during natural disasters like floods.
People should also consider cybersecurity and the necessity for physical protection in public and private facilities. Any disaster preparedness plan should include data protection and system hardening against the most recent threats and vulnerabilities discovered by hackers and ransomware.
Disaster recovery depends on data sharing and analysis, yet there are currently barriers. Data sharing is vital because some information gathered by sensors in and around cities is considered private. Also, coordination for disaster recovery is typically centralized, which means that governments are frequently left stranded when it comes to responding to severe weather disasters.
Not all data can be shared, but exchanging it might aid recovery after a natural disaster. If the government and transportation companies could connect their systems in the wake of natural disasters, there would be more data to create models for reducing traffic jams.
Importance of Advanced Technology in Natural Disasters
Advanced technologies like the IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning assist in reducing the effect of natural disasters in the following ways:
- Efficient disaster response: Advanced technology like the IoT allows smart cities to respond to disasters quickly before damage occurs.
- Intelligent system management: Technology can be used to prevent floods through innovative drainage systems.
- Alternative power sources: Preserved solar energy can automatically power smart cities during blackouts.
- Smart communication systems: Advanced technology, such as IoT, allows people to communicate effectively despite a power outage.
- Survivor tracking: Artificial intelligence makes it possible for robots to track survivors, especially in places that are too dangerous for humans.
The Future of Natural Disasters in Smart Cities
Advanced technology aids a city in better managing, responding to, and recovering from a natural disaster. Governments and corporations can protect citizens and reduce financial losses during catastrophes by integrating IoT-based surveillance, private connections, and distributed infrastructure. Intelligent cities now have more power to improve municipal planning, development, and citizen safety thanks to the tips above.
Article by Jane Marsh
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of