Category Archives: Travel

SmartCity

Smart cities, are we living there?

IoT is changing the game

We are all digitalists. Modern citizens living in a modern, digitalized era. IoT-Smart-CityEvery day we wake up more connected and more productive thanks to the tools and devices out there helping us to have all the complex things in life done simpler. What was once the Internet is now The Internet of Things. All the digital solutions are now making life more endurable and enjoyable and goods more approachable. The Internet of things is the smooth switch to smart technologies, helping us to save energy, to improve our safety, and even improve our business. And the game is truly being changed since we’re starting to live in completely connected homes and the living is made so much simpler and easier thanks to Smart Cities.

Enhancing the quality of life

The sole purpose of connected-life premises is not only to have your friends online at all time, but to make life easier and people more self-aware, mindful and conscientious. smartCityThe new digital dimension enhances the quality of life. It helps people gather real-time information that can help and improve living in so many spheres. The intelligent solutions are helping in saving the environment by cutting energy use, lowering carbon emissions, reshaping and lowering waste production. The new digital platforms will help calculate the quantity of water drops we use thus saving the amount of water we spend. They will increase the security of each and every one of us. Smart solutions will reduce dangerous jobs for people, making them being operated more safely and much more effectively by autonomous and self-driving devices. The benefits will also emerge in the fields like medicine, architecture, economy, education and even entertainment, making our lives better by all means.

The cities of the future

We live in the same cities as before, now much more improved. The cities themselves are changing and adapting to this new digital dimension providing the citizens an easier and more comfortable life. All this thanks to the M2M technology that enables actions and information exchange of all networked devices without any human assistance. Urban environments are already experiencing the benefits of Intelligent lighting, the self-driving public transport, the Intelligent Traffic management. So how will our everyday life be better living in the smart city? Let’s have a common, yet not a pleasant scenario: if a gas leeks, SmartCitythe smart home sensors will be able to detect the change and notify the officials, who will be able to immediately locate the nearest available crew to be sent onsite. The automatic traffic lights will be adjusted so the field crew gets onsite quickly, while the digital signage could inform the other traffic participants of the situation and alert them on driving changes. The other residents of the building could be alerted immediately, they would be able to leave the site with the automatically set public transport, and they could also participate in further sharing of the information in order to have the problem fixed in the fastest and easiest possible way. It is a simple example of how smart city technology could help and make living more enduring and cities more adaptable to its communities and citizens.

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Smart City solutions

Smart City solutions are based on the critical points of living in big cities. And the Smart parking systems are among the best solutions because they notify the drivers when a free parking spot emerges and in big cities with a lot of vehicles, this will mean lowering the citizens’ time and the air polluting. Or in numbers, by lowering the average parking-search time from 15 to just 12 minutes will lower the CO2 emissions by 400 tones in cities with average 5 million people. Nowadays, most of the bigger cities have interconnected and using Intelligent transport systems. This helps in public transport coordination and providing real-time information. Smart taxis are helping the customers even now, enabling them to book a car with an application, while using their location to find their quickest ride available. smartcityAnother popular Smart City solution is the Traffic management. Having monitoring of all road systems and informing the drivers of their best route at any given time. The traffic management solutions will automatically manage the traffic lights and reduce overcrowding to the minimum. There are cities that are currently testing the systems of Smart grids. This solution will provide the necessary amount of electricity depending on the demand, maximizing the power efficiency. On the line of electricity saving, the Smart urban lighting will also reduce the energy waste by adjusting the intensity of the light depending on the people who are around or turning it down when nobody is on the street. In living the environmentally friendly lives, Smart containers and Waste management help people a lot. These solutions will increase the efficiency in waste collection leaving the cities cleaner. Smart Cities are cutting down the billboards, printed posters and delivering the information on the Digital-signage. All of the urban ads will now be tailored to each citizen personally helping the customers to see and buy things they like with app clicks from the signage. As technology grows bigger, the innovations become smarter providing help in all aspects. The future Smart city maintenance will help the citizens to communicate with city representatives through their smartphones making the city damages being repaired faster.  And all that, without any human assistance. Only technology solutions.

Masdar City in Abu Dhabi

There are few great examples of Smart Cities around the world and the 67cb5dfc24e7ccb676970e9c87fd91dfMasdar City in Abu Dhabi is one of them. Having relying only on solar and renewable energy sources, this city with its unique construction was created to be a sustainable and very friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. The construction itself, helps in maintaining a pleasant temperature and having a breeze push for a slight cooling effect. The buildings in Masdar assembled closely together to create streets and sidewalks shielded from the sun. Initially, the design of the cities banned cars and the transport is via public mass-transit and personal-rapid-transit (PRT) systems, onto the existing roads and railways.

Amsterdam Smart City

Another city that pushes itself to innovativity and smart solutions is Netherlands capital, Amsterdam. Over the years Amsterdam has become social, open and sustainable European1019-header-94793a6c02879bdbda21ff86a963b201-ASC_V2G_infographic_770.jpg pearl promoting IoT challenges, involving more than 100.000 Energy Neutral Homes, motivating and involving the residents and homeowners to develop cost effective and sustainable houses in their neighborhoods. They have already implemented the Smart Parking and the Smart Waste solution and over the years Amsterdam is known for the bike-friendly living and Smart Transport solutions, running on solar or renewable energy.

By now we all want to live in a city that is fully digital that offers smart solutions and helps us in delivering easy living. Unfortunately, for full implementation, we’ll have to wait a while, or move to a smarter place.

Travel planning

Sites and apps a traveler should use, like, NOW!

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Moving past January, it is time to start planning your next big travel. So many places, so little time, right. Well, let’s help you take the hassle out of your next travel with a few tech solutions. Choosing an app or a good travel website can be time-consuming, and we hope to be of help by providing you some of the best free travel apps and most useful travel related websites for 2017. Let’s make the where-to-go and where-to-stay a bit easier and maybe even flawless! From finding interesting and rarely explored routes, to finding the cheapest flights and accommodation, to helping you experience the cities like a local, these apps and websites we’ve chosen for you will ease out the planning and make your travel more enjoyable.

Flights, Planning and Travel routes

Planning can be a nightmare, but at the same time it’s challenging and fun; getting to know all those places, routes and flight combinations. Here are a few websites/apps to give you some ideas, insights and to ease your travel planning and costs.

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eDreams.net – is a flight generator, helping you to book your next vacation at lowest prices. Actually, it might be one of the best flight generators out there. How? The fast and really efficient website (and app as well) is getting the best deals and discounts from over 450 airlines showing you the cheapest, shortest and smartest option for flight tickets. You can easily choose flight options, companies and other services like great deals for hotels, cars or combo deals at best prices. The mobile app is fast and free and you can download it for iPhone or Android.

rome2rio – this is one of the best online trip planning platforms out there, helping you discover how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, car and ferry. The website (and app ) calculates all the possible routes for your desired destination (or an entire trip), giving you options for different transportation combinations together with pricing and approximate time of arrival. Rome2Rio’s travel search engine contains route information from over 4,800 transport operators in over 158 countries. The website even provides accommodation, car hire and suggests things to do in the selected destination. The mobile app is easy-to-use, free and you can download it for iPhone or Android.

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utrip – is a free and easy to use travel-planning platform providing travelers the greatest planning and traveling experience. The platform makes it easy for travelers to create their perfect trip quickly and in a matter of clicks, combining the best of both worlds-artificial intelligence and human experience. Having a vast travel database curated by local area experts the traveler can not only choose their destination but also their interest, budgets and traveling preferences. The powerful AI algorithm on the platform creates millions of potential combinations and possibilities for the travelers’ profile. This may include hotels, sites, activities and restaurants, creating a personalized day-by-day journey with maps. Unfortunately, this AWESOME platform still has limited places inboard. The mobile app is free, and you can download it for iPhone or Android.

Holiday pirates – pirates indeed, this platform offers amazing and unimaginable last minute offers. You can browse through the offered deals or start searching your own. It generates the cheapest accommodation and travel options and gives you last minute deals for the desired places. Its only fault is that the service is not enabled worldwide. You can only choose the deals originating in 11 countries. So, if you search deals from the UK, you’ll have to plan the trip to the UK first. The mobile app is also free and you can download it for iPhone or Android.

Flightstats – as the name says, Flightstats is a global flight tracking platform. It provides flight status, tracker and sends flight alerts. You need to know the airline company and the flight number in order to get tracking. The platform also provides airport overview, shows the departures, arrivals, maps and tracking of airports. It’s a great tool for busy schedules, connection flights or if you have to wait for your friends arrival. Their app is also free of charge and you can download it for iPhone or Android.


Booking and Accommodation

If you decide not to use trip generator and go manually and book everything, after managing your transport, you’ll need to start planning your accommodation. From our experience, we have selected some of the best lodging apps and websites so that you get the most from your trip.

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Airbnb – In an era of aggregators, Airbnb became one of the best platforms for accommodation. Making you feel at home, staying at people’s homes or even with them can be a truly enriching cultural experience. Both the website and the mobile app are well organized, helping you find the perfect accommodation for your trip, based on your budget, preferences, and interests. You can browse through hosts’ feedback and you can also chat with them for any questions. From our experience, Airbnb is a great and quite affordable service for group travelers. Hosts are almost always very polite and helpful and if you’re up to it, they can make your trip local-like. The mobile app is free and you can download it for iPhone and Android.

Booking.com – unlike airbnb where you choose to stay in people’s homes, Booking.com offers you deals for hotels, hostels and rental apartments. The website (and mobile app as well) offers you great-value travel deals and place suggestion. But most importantly it has 1,138,034 properties worldwide. Most bookings are made with credit cards, but some venues do no mandate a credit card at the time of reservation – instead you can pay upon arrival. The Destination inspiration is also a cool option, which helps you find monthly destinations based on your preferences such as accommodation price, weather, and popularity. Unfortunately, hosts are not always responsive, since the emails do not go straight to them but through booking’s service, which might be a setback sometimes. The mobile apps are, however, free and you can download them by scanning their code on the website or on the following links: iPhone and Android.

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Kayak – is another well-organized travel generator, providing you with accommodation options concerning hotels and private rentals. The search is generated among hundreds of hotels at once, providing the best price. You can also choose to compare the Kayak offerings with other services like booking.com, hotels.com, Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline to make sure you receive the cheapest or best option. Moreover, Kayak includes a car rental generator engine, so that you don’t lose time in searching mobility options through separate car rental portals.The Kayak app is also free and can be downloaded for iPhone and Android.

Hotel Tonight – you just got notified you need to travel? No problem, because with the Hotel Tonight travel app you can book at the last moment since the site offers fantastic last-minute deals on great hotels. With downloading the app, which is, of course, free for both iPhone and Android, it’s easy for you to find a hotel at no time, even in the case of missed or canceled flights.


Getting around

Once you’ve booked everything and finally arrived at your destination, it is time to get around, experience the most out of the place you’ll stay in and more importantly not get lost. If you thought we would recommend Google maps now wait till we tell you it’s our second best app for the purpose.

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Maps.me – is the best choice of maps for your travel. It is the fastest, the most detailed completely offline search mobile app. Maps.me include the maps for the entire world (yes, even the smallest villages and islands) and not only maps – museums, restaurants, shopping malls – everything, literally everything!. The maps never freeze, you operate them smoothly zooming in and out, and with the GPS Positioning and compass, you can locate exactly where you are. The app also suggests features and points of interest. As soon as you download the app, for free for iPhone and Android, you download the maps of the places you’re about to visit, using your Wi-Fi connection and you start exploring completely Offline, saving money on roaming charges.

Google Maps – Everyone is already familiar with Google Maps, and the mobile app is considered one of the best navigation apps out there. It is another solution that also works great especially if you have saved places which are then easier to access with the suggested local transportation options. It works best when online, but you can also download some areas for offline use as well. If you don’t have it, get it here for iPhone and Android.

Uber – If you are not a fan of the public transportation and you don’t like spending time walking, there is another solution, usually cheaper than the local taxi. Again, on the platform of shared-economy apps, Uber is a ride-sharing app currently active in around 77 countries and 527 cities, making it the biggest car-sharing platform. The app enables you to easily request a ride giving you a choice of vehicle rates and fare quotes to choose. Even more convenient, you can connect with the selected driver, track the car’s location, and securely pay using a credit card. It is easier than looking for a taxi when abroad but more expensive than the public transport. Also, you can sign up for a ride, or you can become a driver yourself. The app is free for both iPhone and Android.

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Citymapper – called the Ultimate Transport app is specially designed for confusing cities! The app makes A to B trip planning easier with estimated time of arrival and including all transport types (subway, bus, rail, ferry, bike and car sharing). It is the best way to find and utilize public transportation. Citymapper is a great solution if you are a first-timer in a city and using the public transport. The app displays the arrival and departure schedules of all available transport means and what’s even better, you can add and subscribe to particular train or bus lines, and the app will send notifications when you need to get off.The app is available on the web and also free to download for iPhone and Android as well.


Where to go next

We’ve got you covered with the transport and getting out and about at your destination, now we get to the fun part! Want to try the local specialties, the best cuisine or just need a cup of extra tasty coffee? Or maybe you would like to go to a museum or an art gallery? Here is a selection of apps that will help you find the best places during your stay.

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Stay.com – The best way to experience a city is by taking suggestions from locals. And Stay.com has recommendations from locals neatly organized in custom tailored guides. Every traveler picks the city to travel and browses the previously created guides, exploring the best places to eat, drink, and have fun. It is the app for urban travelers, and its only flaw is that not all cities from the world are yet available, but the list grows daily. Download the iPhone and Android app for free.

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Trip advisor – is the biggest site for travel insights, reviews, and suggestions. It includes hotels, holiday rentals, things to do, restaurants and flights, but most important of all; it includes local picks, customer opinions and user rated experience. It will help you decide where you wanna grab something to eat based on the client reviews. It includes a wide range of guides, whether you want to choose a budget eats or a luxury one or you want to experience the local cuisine, culture and landmarks. Trip advisor is the largest and most popular web platform also serving all mobile platforms, so you can easily download it for free for iPhone, Android, Microsoft.

Google Trips – Well, it’s Google’s relatively new travel tool, helping travelers plan and organize their travels in all-in-one platform. From having all your reservation and confirmation numbers pulled from your Gmail or other inbox, to suggesting you must-visit places, to automatically discovering new sights, and tracking your travel info at all time. Google Trips also stores all the data offline, so you can access them at any time. So you don’t have much to do, the app does almost everything for you. You can download it for free, for iPhone and Android and enjoy your travel.

Guides by Lonely planet – the newest addition to the Lonely planet family, the Guides – is helping the ultimate travelers to get to know the destinations to the core directly from their mobile device. Whether you want to explore the best destinations or you want to know more about your next travel destination, Guides offers you useful tips and advice from on-the-ground experts making the Guides the ultimate travel resource. Get the iPhone and Android apps now for free and start exploring for your next trip!

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All photos via pexels.com

Foursquare – ultimately, but still imminent Foursquare is widely popular and most commonly used application for finding the best places in the area. Working online, you’re able to locate the coolest places the best food, nightlife, and entertainment in your area. And how do you know the places are good? Well from user check-ins and reviews. For years now users have been checking into places, posting photos of their food, drink or favorite places first via Foursquare itself and later via Swarm, making the app the best tool for discovering hidden places. It’s a must, and you better try not to forget using it on your next trip. Explore via your iPhone, Android or Windows for free.


There are of course many other apps and websites you can use for travel assistance, but this is our little selection. We’ve used them, and we’re quite happy with the provided experience. Don’t forget to snap everything from your trip, check in on Facebook and post the photos on Instagram as well, since no travel is ever complete without these two apps, right?

Feel free to tell us how you found our suggestions; if you liked us, we’d send you newer and better apps as they arrive.

 

Marija Stardelova                                                                                                                                   Marketing Specialist and Blogger, Orange Interactive Technology