A smart city is defined as an urban area that uses different types of electronic IoT sensors to collect data and then uses insights gained from that data to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently.
While the science-fiction version of a truly interconnected smart city is still in our future, we do have several examples of successfully implemented smart city concepts. For example –
Singapore, with its state-of-the-art smart nation programme, is using high-density security cameras to monitor crowd density, public cleanliness, and traffic effectively. The data collected is fed into a platform called Virtual Singapore and gives the Government a real-time view into the workings of the city.
London is another great example of how the Government is pushing a coordinated and well-thought-out plan to build a layer of intelligence. Digital money, transportation, energy efficiency, and creating a city-wide database are the top priorities for the Mayor of London.
Barcelona is well known for its early foray into the smart city arena and is already reaping the benefits – it is predicted to profit to the tune of $970 million by 2026! The Spanish city has a fully connected street lighting system that has substantially reduced energy costs and consumption of electric outdoor lighting – saving 40–60% energy! The city administration also implemented a host of other smart public service initiatives such as using smart bins to improve waste disposal, irrigation systems, noise sensors, city-wide parking apps, and more.
Tokyo, Paris, New York, Seoul, Reykjavik, and many other cities across the globe are now integrating technological solutions intelligently into their operations. But it is not just about adding technology, the success of a smart city lies in how it helps solve the problems of its inhabitants. A city becomes smart when digital technology makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives and delivers improved quality of life for all.
Advantages of the Living in Smart City
From a public point of view, a Smart City has overlapping and wide-ranging societal, economic, and psychological benefits for the inhabitants of the city. Let us explore these from a layperson’s perspective and find out the lifestyle advantages a smart city offers.
For individuals – at a micro level, a smart city offers people ways to save time, money, and enjoy a better quality of life. From saving time and stress on commutes to offering enhanced safety and faster response from public services (such as police, fire, and emergency services, and ambulances) to offering tailored healthcare – IoT and digital technology ensure a smoother life for all.
For the city/country – by 2040, 65% of the world’s population will be living in cities. This rapid urbanization comes with its own set of challenges – they use more energy (60-80% of the global annual energy is used by municipalities), more water, and impact the environment the most. IoT can help make our cities more sustainable, healthier, cheaper, and safer to run. Naturally, doing this would impact the lives of urban dwellers the most.
For humanity as a whole – The most significant impact on a global scale would be resource utilization. Cities gobble up most natural resources and energy, and reducing waste and optimising usage will ensure we don’t run out of key ingredients of human life. Some pressure can be taken off natural resources such as water, air, and soil to make sure they last us for generations to come.