Cities are getting smarter. But how will this impact our daily lives?
The inception of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G technology has led to a global push towards a new kind of City. One that aims to deliver a higher quality of life for its local communities – A pretty big ambition, we know!
What makes a city ‘Smart’?
With all this talk around intelligence, you may be wondering what actually makes a city smart, right? According to BSI, a Smart City is one that has ‘effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver a sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens.”
Whilst Cisco suggests that cities which utilise “scalable solutions that take advantage of information and communications technology (ICT) to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and enhance quality of life” are deemed smart.
In sum, a Smart City is one that adopts new technologies to improve the quality of life and living standards of its communities in both the financial, social and environmental senses. As cities and surrounding areas are becoming more overcrowded and urbanised, new challenges are cropping up for businesses and governments alike.
Smart Cities are a very appealing solution as they can contribute to reducing waste, improving sustainability and health, preventing crime and ultimately, increasing productivity and efficiency. We explore some of the ways Smart Cities are making positive change;
Wireless connectivity and 5G technology provides cities with an opportunity to monitor various metrics, in real-time.
One brilliant example of digital-tracking is the ‘pay-as-you-throw’ concept by Sensoneo which aims to reduce household waste. Using ultrasound technology, high-tech sensors monitor fill-levels and send this information to waste management companies via the IoT. This data is passed on to customers and enables data-driven decision making.
Additionally, the information is also used to optimise bin-collection routes and vehicle loads. Sensoneo claim that their tech reduces waste by a whopping 30% – we think that’s pretty impressive!
Digital-tracking can also be employed to reduce crime by providing real-time crime mapping and smart surveillance. Not only that, air-quality can also be monitored in real-time, allowing governing bodies to regulate traffic, congestion and construction in order to improve the air-quality in that area.
Combatting loneliness is one of the hot topics in today’s digital world. Considering that 1.4million older people in England alone are considered to be chronically lonely, it’s no wonder why such emphasis is placed on combatting it.
It’s clear that a happy, energetic and resilient community is essential for productivity and the efficiency of society. Hence, governments and other leaders are focused on increasing social-connectivity as part of their Smart City plans.
Research shows that social inclusion and stronger connections improves the happiness of communities. The WHO backed this up as they held a conference on the topic, promoting the slogan ‘Social, Innovative and Smart = Happy Cities’ which aimed to inspire leaders to embrace technology for the benefit of their communities. Ensuring that every household has access to WiFi, in addition to social media platforms, is one step towards this idyllic dream of a socially-connected society.
Smart mobility will play a key role in improving the sustainability of cities around the globe. Considering that urban mobility accounts for 40% of all CO2 emissions, it’s clear that action must be taken, sooner rather than later.
Technology is driving some exciting initiatives such as electric and autonomous vehicle innovation, electric bike schemes, air-quality monitoring, sustainable public fuels and congestion tracking. These initiatives are gradually being deployed in cities around the globe, encouraging sustainability one step at a time.
If you’ve ever been in a major city when an emergency vehicle is passing through, you’ll understand the utter chaos that ensues due to congestion. But fear not, technology has provided a solution as digital tracking can now inform traffic-signals that an emergency vehicle is on its way and divert traffic to an alternative route.
Whilst this infrastructure is most important during an emergency, it will also alleviate daily congestion and commuter frustration which will have a huge impact on the wellbeing of the local community.
What are the dangers?
From improving inner-city air quality to reducing congestion on the roads and even fighting crime, it’s clear that Smart Cities are designed with the best of inventions. However with serious concerns over security it bodes the question, is it worth the risk?
In the past, the city of San José, California has faced scrutiny over its digital hiccups. The city employed surveillance technology such as automatic license plate readers and facial recognition throughout the city which, is said to break US privacy and data protection laws.
The technology could track every individual from their home to their place of work – Raising much concern over the necessity of this level of surveillance.
With technology advancing at the speed of light, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Smart Cities will look like in years to come. One thing’s for sure, we’re pretty excited to see where it leads us!
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