Five future trends in Smart Navigation for Smart Cities

With the proliferation of technologies and the unprecedented progress, smart navigation systems have emerged as one of the most promising solutions for developing better and more sustainable cities, Smart Cities as they are commonly called. The following article addresses six future trends in utilization of Smart Navigation for Smart Cities.

Smart Navigation Systems: What is it?

The term navigation system refers to a certain system that assists in navigation and is located usually on board a vehicle or vessel, or could be elsewhere and communicate through signals, or even combine all of the above. Smart Navigation resulted from the evolution in the technological capabilities of navigation systems over time, also referred to as intelligent navigation technologies. Depending on their use navigation systems may contain maps in a human readable format, determine a vehicle or device’s location, provide directions to a human via text or speech, provide directions directly to an autonomous device such as a robot, share information on nearby vehicles, devices, or objects, and even on traffic conditions and suggest alternative routes.

Smart navigation for smart cities?

Urbanization is thought of as one of the most significant challenges for contemporary societies (Suzuki et al, 2010). The expectation is that 70% of the world’s population will live in urban environments by 2050 (Ordnance Survey, 2015). Achieving sustainable urbanization is a future pursue through establishing smart cities. The term Smart Cities describes an approach through the use of information and communication technology designed to address urban challenges such as over-crowding, transport and energy.

How does it work?
Smart navigation has been referred to as the keystone of future urban mobility. Currently, navigation systems can plot a route from home to work, to school, to shops, to local destinations. These could be used for quite different functions and services. Zhukova and Smirnova (2014:594) note that for example these systems can allow: to plot a route and save it in the device memory as well as add way points to the route; make real-time updates of traffic, speed limit signs, local events and display times; search for geographic objects on the map and provide additional information about them; provide voice-guided turn-by-turn driving directions; visualize the city in 3D. Below are details on the most recent innovations in these fields.

  1. Smart Street Lightning

    One significant application for Smart Cities is Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). This key technology allows with various services that can improve the daily life of citizens among them Smart Street Lightning, where lamps are part of a network that performs remote control and maintenance. Dagher et al. (2014) proposed a Ubiquitous Navigation System (UNS), a WSN-based navigation system that uses Smart Street Lightning system to provide a local navigation service.

  2. Mobile pedestrian navigation systems
    More often than ever, mobile pedestrian navigation systems (PNSs) are gaining popularity and could play an incremental part of Smart Cities (Ohm et al. 2015). Unlike the navigation mode for cars, pedestrians prefer to follow route instructions based on landmarks (Ohm et al. 2015). One fruitful proposition for PNSs is what Chen et al. (2013) suggest in their study: they developed a Mobile Navigation and Tracking System (MNTS), to provide navigation and target tracking services combining Global Positioning System (GPS) and Short Message Service (SMS), MNTS allows both GPS navigation capability and Quick Response (QR) code decoding, search of nearby scenic spot, friend positioning and target tracking (Chen et al., 2013).
  3. Eco friendly traffic simulation
    Sustainable cities of the future should be concerned and sensitive on the environmental impact of congested areas with cars emissions and other daily activities. Various innovations address the latter, for example the i-ROAD was developed as part of next-generation urban traffic system navigation systems. The systems analyzes traffic conditions by combining i-ROAD use with public transit and last-mile mobility for the most efficient route to mobile users. Similar to this, Greenway, is an innovative navigation system aimed to reduce CO2 emissions of cars. The system manages traffic using a distributed routing algorithm in an optimal way by reserving time slots for cars on the streets. Such technologies assist to reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, making your city a cleaner and better place to live.
  4. Automotive solutions
    Of the most renowned applications of navigation systems, is the use for guiding drivers to reach their destination. Substantial research addresses innovative solutions as journeys rely less and less on single means of transport. For instance Google’s Street View’s smart navigation allows to double click on the place or object you would like to see and travel there. This is accomplished by making compact representations of building facades and road geometry in the Street View panoramas through use of laser point clouds and differences between consecutive pictures. Smart navigation apps are gaining interest, for instance Google-owned GPS-based geographical navigation app called Waze, provides drivers with real-time information through a map. Other applications like CityMapper and Urban Engines are also available.
  5. Addressing disabilities
    One of the most beneficiary uses of smart navigation in urban cities will be to provide with practical mobility solutions for citizens with disabilities. Already in the industry, many navigation systems exist that are assistive for example for visually impaired persons (VIP) (Digole and Kulkarni, 2015). However Smart navigation system takes a step further to provide combined service for VIPs. Towards this direction, various outdoor navigation systems have emerged, that aim to allow for independent mobility regardless of the person’s hearing status. For example, Chaudary and Pully (2014) developed such a system based on an augmented cane, pulsing magnet apparatuses, magnetic point or continuous metallic trails, and the transmission of serialized vibration braille encoded guidance. According to the researchers, trails of magnetic points will be installed on the sidewalks in the city centers at specific Point of Interests (POI) using Pulsing magnet apparatuses. Serialized vibrational messages will inform people with VI and they will be able to walk independently by sensing the magnet points or the metallic trail through their augmented cane.

Smart navigation is the ground on which to build to create modern cities of the future with solutions that are innovative and practical. The opportunity is there for improving the quality of life if we exploit the unlimited possibilities for truly Smart Cities.

Chaudary, B., & Pulli, P. (2014) Smart Cane Outdoor Navigation System for Visually Impaired Deaf-blind and Blind Persons. Commun Disord Deaf Stud Hearing Aids, 2, p.125. doi: 10.4172/2375-4427.1000125

Chen, L.C., Lai,Y.C, Yeh, Y.H., Lin, J.W., LaI, C.N., & Weng, H.C. (2013) Enhanced Mechanisms for Navigation and Tracking Services in Smart Phones. Journal of Applied Research and Technology, 11(2), PP.272–282.

Dagher, R., Mitton, N., & Amadou, I. (2014) Towards WSN-aided Navigation for Vehicles in Smart Cities: An Application Case Study. 1st International IEEE Percom Workshop on Pervasive Systems for Smart Cities (PerCity 2014), Mar 2014, Budapest, Hungary.

Digole, R.N., & Kulkarni S. M. (2015) Smart Navigation System for Visually Impaired Person. International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer and Communication Engineering, 4(7), July 2015.

Zhukova, N. & Smirnova, O. (2014) Smart Navigation for Modern Cities. Proceedings REAL CORP 2014 Tagungsband, 21-23 May 2014,Vienna, Austria. pp.593-602.

Ohm, C., Bienk, S., Kattenbeck, M., Ludwig, B., & Müller, M. (2015) Towards interfaces of mobile pedestrian navigation systems adapted to the user’s orientation skills. Pervasive and Mobile Computing. Available from: [Accessed 3rd December 2015]

Suzuki, H., Dastur, A., Moffatt, S., Yabuki, N. & Maruyama, H. (2010) Eco2 Cities: Ecological cities as economic cities. Available from: [Accessed 1st December 2015]

Five future trends in Smart Navigation for Smart Cities

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