A smart city (SC) is a metropolis that uses technology to improve its inhabitants' life quality. They look to enhance operational efficiency, information exchange, and government services. Furthermore, SC aims for citizens' integrity by optimizing functions and encouraging economic growth. The idea is to improve people's living conditions through tech.
The value in the city appears depending on what you want to do with the tech and the utility it will bring you. Let's remember quantity is not quality, which is what smart cities are all about. Pack your things and move on to learn more about Smart Cities!
What is a Smart City?
There are many ways of defining a city as smart. In sum, it is a modernized urban area using technology to improve its residents' life quality. These seek to provide services that meet their energy, transport, and security needs. Thanks to data availability's growth, optimizing and controlling resources is easier. To do so, Smart Cities integrate technological frameworks of information and communication. The goal is to create and promote new methods to face urbanism challenges. Thus, creating sustainable environments to support the increasing world population is vital!
According to the European Commission, Smart Cities can provide the following:
● Public spaces with greater security
● Lighting and heating improvements
● Intelligent urban transport networks
● City administration and control in more responsive ways
● Infrastructure advances in all regards, like water supply and waste disposal
The UNECE defines SMCs through several elements:
● Data Access
● Electricity Meters
● Digital Government
● Smart Infrastructure
● Widespread home connectivity.
● Wi-Fi and connectivity in public areas.
As mentioned, Smart Cities seek to improve life quality. That's why ensuring present and future fulfillment is one of its core values.
When did Smart Cities arise?
Before talking about what smart cities are, let's start from the beginning. It all started in the 60s and 70s when the Community Analysis Office integrated the use of Cluster Analysis, Reports Issuance, andComputer Databases. They also added Data Collection with infrared aerial photography and Resources Direction and Control for different areas to architectural planning. As a result, three generations of smart cities rose:
Smart Cities 1.0
IBM and several tech providers managed and controlled this stage. At this moment, the tech itself was barely known but appeared for the first time in municipal affairs. It was a trial-and-error functionality period. An excellent example of an SC 1.0 is Songdo, South Korea.
Smart Cities 2.0
In this scenario, world leaders have evaluated tech to create SCs. It was a phase to assess new trends that resulted in cities, unlike the previous ones. Barcelona, Spain, is an example of what SCs 2.0 looks like.
Smart Cities 3.0
SC 3.0 stands for leadership based on equity. The focus is to create highly inclusive communities. Nowadays, citizen co-creation moves toward a more democratic approach to urban development. Australia, Vienna, and Vancouver adopted this tech model.
How does a Smart City work?
To build a Smart City, it is essential to know its basics. Among the principal activities are data analysis and progress measurement. Every SC follows a unique path. However, all share four leading steps.
1. Data. Collecting data takes place via sensors capable of real-time data collection. This data is ideal for guiding any decision-making process.
2. Analysis. The analysis progress occurs after data collection, which is crucial for service supply. Further, it narrows plans and initiatives for growing urban space.
3. Contact. After having collected and analyzed data, it's decision-making time! But first, the results must reach those responsible for making said decisions. This process involves economic growth, life quality improvement, and asset management.
4. Action. After the in-depth analysis of the results, it is time to design and install action plans. These plans may include environmental stewardship, energy conservation, and intelligent traffic management. As a result, tech is a central pillar in Smart Cities. Through this, governments can manage resources better to meet citizens' needs.
What Makes a City "Smart"?
1. Smart Buildings. This type of construction focuses on offering optimal performance. Smart buildings include energy efficiency and electrification to achieve so. Also, they rely on renewable energy sources and advanced digital management systems.
2. Smart Energy. The goal of Smart Energy is to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. Hence, smart power grids are vital for moving renewable energy to urban areas. This process is possible by storing energy with batteries. These storage systems are software-controlled to maximize efficiency.
3. Smart Homes. Here, the highlight is optimizing energy and reducing energy expenses. Smart Houses integrate high-tech devices and machines. The most common are heating, security, and cooling.
4. Smart Mobility. This edge includes public or private means of transport powered by renewable energy. Nonetheless, it's not the only Smart Mobility trait. It's also crucial for these to be accessible via digital apps. Hence, there's also the need for digitalized charging centers.
5. Intelligent Infrastructures. Smart Cities merge physical elements like benches and car charging stations. As techs connect everything, Intelligent Infrastructures create modular and multifunctional environments.
What Technologies do Smart Cities Use?
Internet of Things (IoT) for Smart Cities
SCs have IoT-tech sensors that gather information on their network. Hence, all connected devices get the needed data to work. It seems the Internet of Things (IoT) will only be more critical in the future. According to Zion Market Research, its market will grow 22.6% to $330.1T in 2025. A great example of it is transportation. Here, IoT channels info about traffic and parking spaces. Hence, it eases citizens' mobility and parking. The IoT is quite useful for energy purposes. Public lighting's connection with an intelligent network is an example of it. As a result, light adapts itself according to time and weather. And finally, it also applies to exhaustive urban waste management and maintenance.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Smart Cities
ABI Research shows that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a fundamental part of the IoT market for SCs. They expect that by 2026 smart metering elements will control at least 87% of IoT connections. In this scenario, public supplies like water, gas, and energy will be more efficient with AI help. Contrariwise, AI is the main protagonist in preventive maintenance. That's because it can prevent and solve unforeseen events in less time. A perfect example of an AI's practical application is preventing water leaks. It's also reaching traffic control and pedestrian safety by powering security cameras, which control vehicles' location and pollution levels.
Geospatial Technology for Smart Cities
Also known as GST, Geospatial Techs offers transportation, security, and energy solutions. Besides, it impacts weather monitoring and helps to detect changes. It's one of the best techs for environmental management. SCs are integrating it to provide more accessible and friendlier environments. GST is becoming a great investment option. Grand View Research elucidates that by 2025 this tech will have a turnover of 134.48 billion dollars.
Blockchain for Smart Cities
Blockchain4Cities explains that this tech allows us to face today's challenges. It encourages participation, security, and competitiveness by preventing fraud and corruption. Still, promoting a transparent, secure, and immutable system is necessary. That's where Blockchain's importance relies upon. To sum up, TMR estimates that Blockchain's value will exceed $20B by 2024. A real case of Blockchain in cities is Estonia. In this country, the Public Administration is promoting an e-Residency through Blockchain. Thus, getting an ID or registering a business here is possible from anywhere. As a consequence, Estonia has managed to cut bureaucracy and optimize efficiency.
Intelligent cities create connected networks to improve life quality, sustainability, and resource optimization. Thus, governments, private sectors, and citizens are all part of Smart Solutions. Yet, with good structure, support, and tech, Smart Cities can be a reality before we notice it! Are you ready to create solutions for smart cities?