What Makes a Smart City and Where Are the Smartest Cities?
What is a smart city?
A smart city is a term used to define a city that adopts advanced information and communication technologies to optimize operations, services as well as connection with citizens. Such technologies are relied upon to enhance the performance of urban services from energy to transportation and other utilities. Smart cities are also synonymous with opportunities for a healthy lifestyle, which include quality healthcare, education, and safety.
Thanks to innovative internet of things solutions, smart cities are slowly becoming a reality. Such cities are increasingly using emerging technologies to enhance operational efficiency as well as the sharing of information with the public. In this case, such cities are synonymous with improving the quality of government services as well as citizen welfare.
Smart city adoption is on the rise, thanks to the development of new solutions that enable automation. Digitization, thanks to new technologies such as machine learning and the internet of things, also continues to enhance the adoption.
Smart city features
A classic example of a smart city initiative includes smart parking meters that rely on apps to help drivers find parking spaces. The smart meters also make it possible to make digital payments as parking fees.
Smart traffic management is another common feature synonymous with smart cities. Instead of relying on cops to steer traffic, the use of technology to monitor and analyze traffic is becoming a reality, thus optimizing streetlights capabilities.
Energy conservation is another feature that characterizes smart cities. Smart streetlights that dim whenever there are no people or cars on the roads are becoming a common occurrence as a way of conserving energy. Such cities have also deployed smart grid technology that enhances the supply of power on demand as well as improve operations and maintenance.
Smart cities are also relying on smart technologies to monitor and improve public safety. For instance, smart sensors are increasingly being used to provide warnings about potential floods, landslides, or even hurricanes.
Smart buildings fitted with sensors for providing real-time space management or ensuring public safety by monitoring structural health are a common feature. By attaching sensors to buildings, owners can detect wear and tear, crucial for maintenance and repair planning.
Benefits of a smart city
Practical and economic benefits at stake are some of the reasons why most cities around the world are embracing the smart city spectacle. Some of the positive attributes associated with smart cities include.
Improved security levels
The use of advanced technology to reduce criminal activity has enabled safer communities in smart cities. The use of Closed Circuit Televisions Cameras has inched a notch higher thanks to the use of facial recognition technology that is helping authorities identify suspicious characters before they commit crimes.
The addition of hotline as well as panic buttons around smart cities is helping law enforcement agencies respond to emergencies faster.
Improved water and waste management
Water losses through leaks or blockages is never a concern in smart cities thanks to the use of advanced water management systems. Smart water grids have also cropped up, thus ensuring the security of water quality as well as safe consumption.
Smart water meters have also come into being, thus enhancing the detection of low water flow in pipes as well as potential backflow. The use of smart pumps and valve is also helping smart cities assess environmental conditions, thus adjust the rate accordingly.
Enhanced traffic management
Smarty cities stand out on the use of technology to manage traffic on busy roads. Technology is also being used to monitor traffic patterns and detect common congestion points that may require additional attention. Data gathered by such systems is proving to be valuable in helping divers identify areas that require quick breaking or areas synonymous with large volumes of traffic.
Smart technology is also proving to be valuable in the monitoring of various equipment that may require repair or replacement, such as traffic lights or pedestrian signals.
Smart cities are leveraging smart technology to help optimize the movement of goods and people on the roads or in other alternative options. The use of smart apps that give time estimates for various public transportation options has helped enhance transportation, thus reducing idling due to traffic.
The use of electronic vehicles is another phenomenon that is taking over in smart cities, thus reducing emissions generated by normal gas-powered cars.
Smart cities drawbacks
Lack of data privacy and security is a major drawback associated with smart cities. The use of applications and CCTVs to monitor people movements continues to arouse privacy concerns. The lack of proper security protections on people’s data obtained by smart cities also raises serious security and privacy risks.
Technologies do fail. What this means is that cities that rely too much on technology to operate things like traffic stand to suffer a lot of inconveniences as well as losses in case of glitches. Traffic problems because of technical hitches can trigger real issues such as accidents or even the blocking of ambulances and firefighters.
The world’s smartest cities
London tops the ranks as the smartest city in the world thanks to high marks when it comes to urban planning, technology use to enhance life as well as mobility and transportation. The city plays host to the most startups in the world. Innovation has seen it install Heathrow pods as well as capsules in addition to other transportation alternatives for enhancing mobility.
New York comes a close second in the smartest city rankings as an economic hub in the world. The city also ranks top on human capital, urban planning as well as mobility and transportation. Being a financial center, New York is also home to more than 7,000 high tech companies.
Amsterdam comes in third thanks to strides made towards financial, technology, and energy efficiency. The city boasts of a robust system for automating services for public use. The city is set to ban gasoline and diesel-powered cars by 2025 as it seeks to become the first zero-emission city.