28 Aug Smart Cities – What Are They?
What are smart cities?
There is no single, agreed-upon definition of smart cities – the term means different things to different people, depending on their location and their priorities. A smart city initiative could mean a top-down, citywide program or a business as small as a local bike share. However, there are some common features of a smart city on which most experts agree. Below we list four hallmarks of a smart city, along with initiatives from cities around the world that exemplify the smart cities ethos.
How do they incorporate technology into familiar infrastructure?
Dr. Sam Musa, Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Maryland, defines a smart city as one that “connects its infrastructure electronically.” There are particularly exciting opportunities in the building of entirely new cities, such as Songdo International Business District in South Korea, which is still under construction, but already has high-speed wifi access in the subway and an underground network of tunnels that vacuum household waste right out of people’s homes.
According to IBM, a smart city is one that “makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available today.” For some cities, what makes them “smart” is the use of a single virtual platform like Glasgow’s Integration Operation Center – which aims to run the city more efficiently by bringing together data gathered by a range of sensors, including smart meters and closed-circuit television.
The objectives of a smart city, according to Cisco, are to “increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and enhance the quality of life.” The Smarter City Programme in Manchester, England, intends to “improve how people live, work, play, move, learn and organize.” A simple example that is already popular in many cities is the smart parking meter, which uses an app to help drivers locate a parking space without wasting fuel and time driving around the city center.
According to Gartner, a big part of what makes smart cities so important is the rate of migration into cities: by 2050, it is expected that 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. This demographic shift will increase pressure on infrastructure and public services and cities will have to become smarter to keep up. Smart sensors can also be vital components of an early warning system before droughts, floods, landslides or hurricanes, thus helping cities to address the environmental challenges of the future too.
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