What is a smart city?

A smart city is one where communication technologies increase operational efficiency for its residents. It’s a city where initiatives are put in place to share information with the public and improve government services and the wellbeing of its citizens. The technological challenges of building a smart city are nowhere near as big as the social challenges.

Smart city challenges

In order to build a smart city and make the concept work, the residents need to be behind the idea. And the best way to make this happen is for governments to provide incentives for people to start putting ideas in place in the home and in businesses.

Some studies say that fostering collaboration between the public sector, private sector, and residents is the key. Sure, that’s important but there’s no point spending millions of dollars espousing the benefits of a smart city unless its citizens understand the impacts of it on their daily lives.

We need to walk before we can run. The best thing governments can do is to make available subsidies so that it’s affordable for everyone to own basic implements that are smart. Start with things that are easily accepted into daily lives, such as smart television sets, smart robot vacuum cleaners, smart pool vacs, and fridges.

Already, in Japan, most citizens think it’s normal to have a smart toilet that can play music, heat and clean itself.

There are several smart cities around the world.

Features of a smart city

#1 Transportation technologies

Parking

In a smart city, you’re likely to come across a lot more emerging trends in your daily life, such as automation, machine learning and AI-driven technologies. One simple example is smart parking meters, where apps are used to help drivers find available parking spaces without having to drive around and around. These smart meters also accept digital payments.

Traffic

Also in the transportation area, look out for smart traffic management that the authorities use to monitor and analyze traffic flows. This may be to optimize streetlights or to prevent roadways from becoming too congested.

Public transport

Another area where most smart cities are making headway is in the public transport arena. Smart transit companies have the technology to coordinate services and improve efficiency and rider satisfaction, such as through the use of ride-sharing and bike-sharing.

#2 Energy conservation

Energy conservation and efficiency are one of the major focuses of smart cities also. Streetlights can be dimmed using smart sensors, and when they are not needed. Smart grid technology is employed to improve operations and to monitor energy outages.

#3 Environmental concerns

Smart city initiatives always have an element of monitoring environmental concerns. Climate change and air pollution are two big issues that are addressed and sanitation is also improved with smart technology, such as the use of internet-connected trash cans and IoT-enabled fleet systems for waste removal. All these initiatives help improve the environment and quality of living. Did you know that there are sensors to measure the quality of drinking water?

#4 Public Safety

Smart city technology is also used to improve public safety, including the monitoring of crime. Smart sensors can also warn of droughts, floods, landslides and hurricanes.