Smart cities use an array of digital technologies to enrich residents’ lives, improve infrastructure, modernize government services, enhance accessibility, drive sustainability and accelerate economic development. The cities of the future are a more safe, connected, and livable place to live for everyone.
Across the world, tens of millions of people commute to and from work each day by driving, walking, or riding buses and trains. This is a time-consuming and often difficult experience, with traffic jams, overcrowded buses, and snarled traffic on the roads. But technology is helping to ease the stress of daily commuting by improving public transit, reducing road congestion, and making parking easier.
By 2025, cities that use smart-mobility applications could reduce commuting times by 15 to 30 percent on average--numbers that translate into improved quality of life and reduced health costs.
The McKinsey Global Institute recently released a report examining how smart technologies can improve some key quality-of-life indicators, from air quality to sidewalk safety. The resulting data shows that these applications can boost some important measures by 10 to 30 percent, which translates into lives saved, fewer crime incidents, shorter commutes, a reduced health burden, and lower carbon emissions.
One area where governments are particularly embracing smart technologies is in transportation. With a growing population and rapidly evolving demands, city officials are looking to reimagine transportation systems in ways that will both serve citizens and save money.
To help solve transportation issues, smart cities are leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect intelligent infrastructure and perform real-time tracking and monitoring. This information helps cities improve their fleets and reduce costs while also ensuring the safety of their communities.
IoT also allows for remote monitoring and predictive maintenance. This can save money by allowing service professionals to predict when repairs will need to be made, avoiding unnecessary downtime and fuel costs. It can also provide a more positive user experience by delivering more efficient routes and service appointments for drivers and vehicles.
Reducing Energy Costs
With rising energy costs, city governments are seeking solutions that will save them money while lowering carbon emissions. For example, smart streetlights can react to changing lighting conditions in the surrounding environment, such as by blinking or turning off when it gets dark. This technology can save money by reducing electricity usage and carbon emissions, while also increasing light output and visibility.
With rapid population growth and growing demand for energy, city buildings are increasingly being designed with environmental and health considerations in mind. These smart-city concepts will need to generate enough clean energy to meet their needs without generating excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, dimmable liquid crystal windows can make it easier to reduce power consumption by eliminating the need for heating and cooling systems.
While these smart technologies are a promising solution for cities around the world, there are many open issues and challenges to be addressed. These include:
The Future of Smart Cities: Reimagining Transportation
The world’s largest urban centers are embracing advanced technologies to drive economic growth and deliver quality services to citizens. As a result, they are also becoming some of the most attractive places to live and work.
Using technology, these modern municipalities offer shorter commutes, better communication networks, easy-to-use transportation systems, safer streets, green spaces, cleaner air, enhanced resident services, and more. These advantages make them more appealing to businesses and encourage greater investment in the city.
These benefits can lead to a higher quality of life, too. For instance, a McKinsey Global Institute report found that dozens of digital applications can reduce crime, increase safety on the street, and improve quality-of-life indicators such as walkability by 10 to 30 percent. These results translate into lives saved, fewer traffic incidents, more efficient use of resources, and reduced carbon emissions.
For this reason, it’s essential that cities invest in intelligent solutions that improve the quality of life of their residents. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the world’s best-performing cities can increase the livability of their populations by up to 15 percent by 2030.
To achieve this, they need to create an agile infrastructure that integrates physical and digital aspects of their operating model. This can be achieved through software adaptability (cloud computing, AI and ML, digital twins, smart contracts, and platform business models), physical adaptability (modular design and construction, multi-functional design, robotics and drones, and techniques which support rapid integration and interoperability or dynamic provisioning) or hybrid approaches that combine both.
Several key trends are accelerating the global shift towards smart cities, boosting demand for connected devices and data analysis. These include increasing energy efficiency, decarbonising the sector and improving resilience.
These trends will be bolstered by advances in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, big data, and Internet of Things. These technologies are enabling the creation of intelligent sensors that can collect and analyze data, improve efficiency, and provide insights that enable more informed decision-making.
This information can help city managers understand and react to changing conditions, including unforeseen events such as pandemics or natural disasters. It can also help them improve response times to emergencies and enhance the quality of services they provide.
In addition, cities will need to prepare for the potential disruptions that might occur from climate change or technological advances such as artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. For example, many of these technologies will require a heightened level of security and cybersecurity.
The world’s best-performing cities are already taking steps to prepare for these challenges and ensure that they can respond quickly and effectively when necessary. To keep up with the pace of change, cities need to invest in reliable, high-speed connectivity and strong security measures.
Moreover, governments of all sizes should consider a Chief Technology Officer to guide their smart city initiatives. This CTO should be a smart city veteran who can help their cities deploy technology effectively and safely.