Expecting that more than two-thirds of the entire population will be living in urban areas by 2050, cities are getting an additional burden on housing, transport, health care, energy supply, and waste management. Life in the megacities of the future will depend largely on smart solutions created today. The term “smart city” is gaining in popularity and refers to a city that utilizes technology and data acquisition to improve its operations and residents’ quality of life, and reduce the overall running costs and carbon footprint.
Defining a smart city
When imagining the smart cities of the future, one needs to abandon the sci-fi images from movies like the Bladerunner where people live in high-tech buildings alienated from each other in an environment that fosters social inequality and where only the affluent reap the benefits.
The new smart cities draw their inspiration and strength from the communities where the people, universities, big companies, and city authorities all work together to shift the focus of smart city projects onto the practical needs of the residents.
To be able to achieve this, these groups need to harness the acquired data and use it for a better understanding of the city so that there can be satisfactory results that benefit everyone. Both the data and smart technology have to be put to good use so that while events unfold and patterns of life change, they can react faster and provide quicker, low-cost solutions.
Smart tech ideas
Smart technology can offer numerous solutions in various aspects of society. For instance, using a range of smart applications might potentially help in reducing fatalities from road traffic, fires, and homicide by 8 to 10% which means saving around 300 lives a year. Crimes of assault, burglary, robbery and auto theft could be reduced by up to 40%.
By using smart mobility applications, cities in the future could potentially improve the daily commute troubles of tens of millions of people who struggle to get to work on a daily basis. The commute time could be cut by 15 to 20% on average and transit systems can use the applications to streamline the traveling experience for their passengers. For instance, digital signage and mobile apps can offer real-time data about traffic delays that allow travelers to adjust their routes on the go.
Smart tech is eco-friendly
As mass consumption, industrialization, and urbanization develop and grow, environmental pressures increase, but with the help of smart techs such as building automation systems, mobility apps, and dynamic electricity pricing, emissions could be cut by 15%.
Cities have begun installing smart LED street lamps that have also been fitted with smart technology to achieve the goal of safer environments and carbon neutrality. Moreover, as these lights are in high traffic areas, longevity, and low maintenance matter as much as optimal visibility and low energy usage. Smart tech monitors energy consumption of streetlights and adjusts it according to the given circumstances and needs.
Smart examples world-wide
Barcelona is one of the most wired cities with an extensive system of 500km of fiber-optic cable that runs throughout the city. This forms the backbone of its integrated system that includes car park sensors that inform drivers via phone app of vacant park spots and in-ground sensors that control the public park irrigation as a preventive measure against water shortage.
The city of London uses a contactless payment system that speeds up the movement of millions of passengers in its public transport system and Christchurch plans to install early detection systems during the city reconstruction after the earthquake of 2011.
Smart technology already plays an important part in urban lives and the way problems are being solved. What is expected further to happen in the future is upgrading the existing infrastructure to provide a better service to residents rather than flashy developments from sci-fi visions.
About the author:
Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor, and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”