Are Smart Cities the Key to stopping Natural Disasters?

Photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash

As global temperatures rise, consistent weather patterns change, increasing the frequency of natural disasters. Coastal cities like Miami and New Orleans experience significant effects from extended hurricane seasons and other environmental impacts. Urban population rates increase each year, causing potential societal hazards.

Fortunately, technological advancements increase the safety and efficiency of cities during natural disasters. Smart cities use the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve convenience and sustainability. Autonomous devices improve smart cities’ natural disaster relief and preparation processes.  

Natural Disaster Limitations

Natural disasters cause significant residential and commercial limitations. Fallen power lines decrease electricity access, forcing businesses to close and leaving homes without lighting, temperature control and more. Down cellphone towers additionally reduce communication access, causing fatal effects during medical emergencies.

Fallen trees also reduce one’s transportation abilities, limiting system management. Without adequate electricity or water supply relief, city residents may experience adverse health impacts. Chemical, physical and radiological effects may follow a disaster in regions with poor system management practices.

Alternative Energy Sourcing and Automation

When cities rely on fossil fuel-derived electricity, they may experience power outages following natural disasters. Fortunately, solar generators provide reliable electricity even after power line damage occurs. Tropical developing countries utilize solar generators, accessing power during hurricane seasons.

Environmental scientists and engineers developed smart technology, connecting a building’s electricity system to a smart generator. When the power goes out, residents can switch on the generator from their smartphone or tablet, accessing localized electricity.

Generators are essential in many commercial and residential buildings. You can evaluate the energy necessary portions of a building and connect them to a solar generator. Refrigerators and well pumps can source their power from the sun during a natural disaster.

Without power, citizens relying on electric medical devices may face fatal consequences. City hospitals can utilize smart solar generators to provide medical relief and maintain current patient health.

Smart Communication System

Providing emergency aid is challenging without a reliable communication source. In 2018, Hurricane Michael moved through Florida and destroyed cellphone towers. Following the disaster, citizens experienced limited phone service for over a week.

Fortunately, smart cities are adopting IoT-driven communication technology, increasing cell phone access during natural disasters. LoRa communication systems can work through power outages and reception tower damage. Its limited reliance on surface-level support increases its diverse usage.

Underdeveloped countries currently use the technology to regulate poaching. In preserved areas, limited cell reception causes animal conservation challenges. Poaching regulation professionals can report unlawful behavior using LoRa technology.

Smart System Management

A significant issue following natural disasters is water supply contamination. Tsunamis and storm surges flooded water treatment plants and wells, polluting the source with microorganisms. Viruses, parasites, bacteria and agricultural chemicals can seep into drinking water, causing adverse health effects.   

Copenhagen, one of the largest smart cities, developed an IoT water management system. As the climate changes, the city experiences increased precipitation rates. In 2011, rainfall damage repairs cost nearly one billion U.S. dollars.

The autonomous system tracks storm drains and other mass waterways. When a clog or sanitation concern arises, the system alerts the city’s water management team and prevents human health hazards. During floods, the system tracks water quality and prevents flow blocking.

Smart cities also utilize smart soil trackers, preventing harmful runoff from green spaces. The system regulates pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, limiting their overuse. Regulating soil additives prevents adverse effects from stormwater runoff.

When flooding and storm surges submerge green areas, water carries chemical additives to the ocean. The solution increases algal blooms and depletes localized marine oxygen levels. These regions become uninhabitable by aquatic species, generating dead zones.

Cities can optimize environmental protection before and during natural disasters by regulating soil additives. They can additionally protect the potable water supply using similar technology.

Preparation is Key

Evaluating your increased natural disaster impacts is essential for taking preparation measures. Some regions that never experience frequent storms now face severe flooding complications. Environmental changes affect more than our climate, they affect humanity’s safety and well-being as well.  


Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of