Cities are no exception to the revolutionary effect of technology. Urban planning experts believe that smart cities will be the next step in urban evolution – but what is a smart city, and what are its pros and cons?
A smart city is a city that uses data collection and smart city technology to improve every aspect of the city’s operations. This can include traffic light and utility regulation, social service allocation, maintenance tasks, and thousands of other everyday municipal responsibilities that can be improved by smart city technology. The technology involved can include everything in the smart city from user device data gathering and surveys to using artificial intelligence or algorithms to help make difficult governance decisions.
Many cities have some aspects of smart city planning already, and there’s a good chance your city has a few smart city projects or a smart city initiative in the works. The ideal smart city, however, has modern smart city technologies integrated into as many of its processes as possible to optimize and improve quality of life for its citizens.
Experts note that because cities and technologies around the world are so different, it can be difficult to clearly delineate what a smart city is or how exactly one should work. However, smart city projects share some common elements.
So much goes into the management of a city that listing all smart city technologies would be impossible. However, smart city technology is headed in a few key directions:
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key feature of smart cities. Without connected devices, it would be nearly impossible to collect the raw digital data required to make technologically informed decisions. The data gathered by these devices can fuel algorithmic and AI decisions, and in some cases, the devices can receive remote commands as well.
Why do we need smart cities? Well, smart cities have the potential to vastly improve city life and citizens’ quality of life. Smart city networks can allow smart city networks to improve municipal transportation and empower smart city services that some of us can only dream of. In addition to quality of life, smart city solutions can also vastly improve smart city efficiency. Each and every country is facing its own climate change and pollution struggles, and smart city solutions can help make cities far cleaner and energy-efficient.
The concept of a smart city was developed relatively recently and the technologies are quite new, but the real history of smart cities goes back several decades. Here’s a smart city history timeline:
Throughout that time, cities around the world have been gradually adopting smart technologies in greater numbers.
Smart cities offer lots of benefits, but they also pose significant risks. Much like with IoT devices, introducing data collection and remote access also introduces new vulnerabilities. Implemented on the scale of a city, however, these vulnerabilities can be even worse. Attacks against smart city infrastructure have happened in the past. Here are just a few potential examples:
The existence of risks doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t implement some of these technologies. However, it’s important that city governments take smart city security seriously.
What is the smartest city in the world? Most experts agree that Singapore is the world’s smartest city. Just by visiting, we’d be able to experience some examples of what our own cities might look like in the future. Here’s a look at some of the other top smart cities, as ranked by earth.org:
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