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Surprising Science

Smart Pavement: Coming to a City Near You

Madrid, Spain, has become the first city to integrate smart pavement into its infrastructure. The technology will offer citizens improved Web access while collecting data on pedestrian flow. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Last December, Spain’s capital city became the first to integrate Wi-Fi technologies with sidewalk pavement, which in providing a place for people to walk was serving (embarrassingly) just a single function. “The smart pavement integrates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology into a piece of calcic carbonate (a marble found throughout Spain) that allows radio frequencies to pass through. Costs are kept lower by interspersing the intelligent pavement with regular marble (same look and feel).” The improved networks will allow individuals freer access the Web and offer tourists important information about attractions and local cultural events. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Called iPavement by the Spanish company Via Inteligente, which designed and implemented the new smart pavement, the Internet-connected marble will give citizens information via mobile platforms while also collecting data of its own, working as “a sensor network for gathering useful information about pedestrian traffic flows and ambient air temperature.” The data will then be sent to the city’s servers where it can be aggregated with other sensory data to improve services received by citizens and tourists. Similar plans are at work in smart city developments planned for Portugal and Russia, called PlanIT and Skolkovo, respectively. 

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