You’ve probably heard about smart cities, but what exactly are they? And what benefits will they provide? We break down everything you need to know.
Digital technology has provided society with hundreds of advances that make life easier and better for everyone. From the personal computer to the internet to the smartphone to the Internet of Things, we are increasingly living in a technologically driven world.
But what if those technologies were bound together and used to build a Smart City?
What would it take to make such a complex network feasible? And what would it look like to live in a such a city?
Are these just the fevered imaginings of science fiction writers or could it be a real possibility? Let’s dig a little deeper.
What Is A Smart City?
First, let’s put aside our Jetsons-inspired ideas of smart cities and look at what they really are.
A smart city contains a framework of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), specifically designed to answer the overwhelming growth of urban centers.
The ICT framework contains an intelligent network of machines and objects that transmit data wirelessly. These cloud-based applications receive, evaluate and manage data, in real time, to help cities, corporations, and citizens make better decisions that improve quality of life.
Citizens can engage with smart city systems using smartphones and other mobile devices, including cars and homes.
Think the Internet of Things except on a much, much bigger scale. A citywide scale.
Being able to connect to a city’s physical infrastructure and services has the potential to cut costs and improve the city’s sustainability. Cities can improve energy dispersal, streamline city services, decrease traffic and reduce air pollution.
The development of smart cities starts with a digital foundation that allows better functionality, that’s more responsive to citizens, and ultimately creates a better urban environment.
Smart City Technology
Cities are quickly on the move to embrace smart city technology. Autonomous vehicles are already providing data that could create environments where traffic lights become obsolete. Cities can reduce the number of cars as different transportation modes work together and communicate in real time.
Wi-Fi hotspots on a larger scale can transform the way users access information. And, as increased use of public transportation reduces the number of cars on the road, parking needs will decrease and enable cities to repurpose land for housing.
Energy sources could be better integrated into cities, helping to make a cleaner environment for everyone. At the same time, embedded sensors to detect gunshots or explosions will alert emergency services workers much faster. These systems will also find water, electric and gas issues and assign workers to make repairs as soon as they are needed.
All of this possible technological growth is predicated on the idea that technologies can help make people’s lives better in urban areas.
Dear Anna, what you write might be true. Your words are nearly the same as the way IBM introduced its smart city policy about 10 years ago. Since then we learned a lot. There most importsant thing is, never start from technology, but from people's needs and urban challenges instead. Maybe my free e-book Smart City Tales might be interesting for you: https://www.dropbox.com/s/c9f1v4od86ibaa3/2018%2007%2030%20Smart%20City%20Tales.pdf?dl=0