Smart Cities: Improving our Surroundings

Smart Cities: Improving our Surroundings

One of the topics Paul Budde touched on during yesterday’s Analyst Q&A is how the information and communications technology industry is facilitating the development of smart cities. But what exactly is a smart city, and how can one improve people’s quality of life? Read on to find out.

 

What is a Smart City?

The European Commission describes a smart city as:

a place where the traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies, for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses.

Simply put, smart cities integrate information and communications technology (ICT) applications across all areas of infrastructure with the goal of ensuring a workable, sustainable environment with a high-quality of life for residents. Smart cities utilize ICT to enhance and improve all sectors. The Smart Cities Readiness Guide from the Smart Cities Council highlights the key components of any smart city:

  • ICT - the devices, software, standards and communications required to make a city smart
  • Instrumentation - the devices used to record and collect data from the city, i.e. smart meters, temperature sensors, pressure sensors and many more
  • Responsibilities - the everyday functions essential to maintaining a city such as water supply, energy supply, public safety and transportation
  • Enablers - the individual ICT components that enable city responsibilities to become smart, such as data analytics and computing resources
  • Targets - the series of objectives that form the foundation of a smart city

A smart city uses ICT instrumentation and enablers to effectively and efficiently manage city responsibilities.

 

Smart City Benefits

The guide organizes the objectives of the smart city under the categories of livability, workability and sustainability. Smart cities improve residents’ livability by:

  • Providing instantaneous electronic access to government information, services and interaction
  • Improving city services through open data sharing programs between government departments and application developers
  • Enabling real-time monitoring and alerts for health and public safety information
  • Fully visualizing essential services like water supply and energy on a citywide basis
  • Protecting personal and digital privacy

Smart cities improve workability by:

  • Developing a world-class infrastructure, which supports businesses and attracts investors
  • Enforcing cybersecurity and protecting businesses from cybercrimes like hacking and theft
  • Stimulating innovation and invention, which in turn results in new businesses, jobs and revenue
  • Supporting skills developments and ensuring the continued improvement of city responsibilities

Smart cities improve sustainability by:

  • Optimizing resources through improved planning via computer simulations
  • Providing a wide selection of technology choices for residents, businesses and cities
  • Reducing costs through infrastructure sharing and reusing software modules
  • Increasing economies of scale by agreeing on universal standards and specifications
  • Embedding best practices for areas such as cybercrime
  • Maximizing the value gained from city assets and achieving better financial forecasts

To achieve these objectives, smart cities utilize a wide variety of technologies from a number of key areas.

 

Smart City Tech

The ICT used in smart cities enables connectivity between the devices used to collect data, the applications tasked with managing responsibilities, as well as between the various city responsibilities. Technology enablers required for a smart city include:

  • Instrumentation and control devices
  • Connectivity and communications devices such as the Internet of Things
  • Interoperability featuring integration architectures
  • Security and privacy frameworks
  • Data management
  • Computing resources such as cloud computing networks
  • Analytics

Ensuring the above technology is in place is essential to the success of smart cities.

 

The Future

An increasing number of governments are pursuing smart city strategies, and cities including Seoul, Glasgow, Taipei, New York City and Singapore have been recognized for their commitment to ICT development. Indeed, the global smart cities market is expected to grow from USD 312.03 Billion in 2015 to grow at a CAGR of 17.12% during the 2016-2020 period, suggesting strong and stable growth on a global basis. It’s safe to assume that as we further integrate technology into our everyday lives, an increasing number of governments will be adopting and implementing smart city strategies.

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