What Are Smart Cities?

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Whether you live in a huge metropolitan city or a smaller city in your state, urban living is full of opportunities. You can work and play in an exciting and stimulating environment. While it may not be for everyone, city living is certainly an attractive option for those individuals and families that are looking for a fast-paced lifestyle. So, what is a Smart City?

City living is certainly on the rise. According to one study, more than 60 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050. What’s even more exciting is that we are in the middle of this mega-trend around smart cities. Smart cities leverage disruptive technologies – like the Internet of Things (IoT) – to make their citizens’ lives better. Because this is such a large, game-changing mega-trend, it is important to understand what smart cities are and how they are important in our world. 

Smart Cities: A Primer

Smart cities are typically thought of as cities that use IoT sensors and technology to connect components across a city. The entire purpose of this is to gather data that can be used to improve the lives of both citizens and visitors. According to Siemens, smart city solutions contribute to the effective management of these urban areas by improving connectivity, sustainability, and liability. The general idea, therefore, is that smart cities improve the lives of their citizens and visitors through the use of technology. Cities often release a mobile app, for instance, to provide information about things like traffic conditions. 

Smart cities often contain five core elements. They are further described below.

1. Smart Energy

Smart energy comprises things like an electric vehicle infrastructure, smart grid and demand response, and renewable energy and cogeneration of electricity and heat. Essentially, the idea is that through the use of disruptive technology, cities can more efficiently generate and consume energy, whether that is traveling from place to place or energy consumption in residents’ apartments or homes.

2. Smart Transport

Smart transport aims to make travel easier and less stressful. For instance, intelligent transportation and Intelligent parking can help you find open parking spots when you are driving around your city. Congestion solutions and tolling systems can eliminate traffic buildups and highways and public transportation information sharing can keep trains and buses rolling during even the busiest hours of the day.

3. Smart Water & Waste

Smart water and waste solutions can help cities overcome key challenges in water and waste management. For instance, smart water meters provide key data on water consumption and use in particular areas. Intelligent rain and storm flood management help cities avoid flooding in some of the most difficult weather conditions. New purification methods can help ensure that citizens and visitors are drinking the cleanest water possible.

4. Smart Social & Safe City

This element uses technology to increase safety and security in cities. Things like eGovernment, remote social infrastructure, smart city apps, and green hospitals help citizens live better and healthier lives. 

5. Smart Buildings

The final element of smart cities centers on intelligent buildings. These buildings have an energy-efficient building design and have household, building, and energy management systems. Along with this, they allow for smart home entertainment and communications, making your home or office much more enjoyable.

Why They Are Important

All of these elements are important because they leverage disruptive technology to make our cities more efficient and more pleasurable. They are transforming cities and, in the process, improving the environmental, financial, and social aspects of urban life. While smart cities do require a significant investment – both in terms of money and time – the results are game-changing. 

Ultimately, smart cities improve the quality of life for cities. Citizens and visitors become happier and are less likely to move to another city. Happy and satisfied visitors, meanwhile, make these cities more attractive for companies that are looking to move. They truly offer a win-win-win for cities themselves, their citizens, and organizations located in those cities.

In sum, smart cities can absolutely be considered a mega-trend that is not going away anytime soon. As technologies like IoT get better and cheaper, we will inevitably see smart cities become even intelligent. Whether you already live in a smart city or are simply interested in their progress, it is worth paying attention to this groundbreaking trend.

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