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Smart Cities – coming to your neighborhood soon!

Exponential urbanization and continuous digitization are two of the main principles behind the concept ‘Smart Cities’. Smart Cities is a vision on how the Internet of Things (I.o.T) and an integration of ICT-infrastructure will benefit city management and thus its residents. Give smart leaders access to smart technology and cities around the world will become more appealing, sustainable and livable.

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Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, increasing to two thirds by 2050.

“Cities are important drivers of development and poverty reduction in both urban and rural areas, as they concentrate much of the national economic activity, government, commerce and transportation, and provide crucial links with rural areas, between cities, and across international borders.” (United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision).

The challenges and opportunities of urban areas

A growing number of residents also means a growing demand for health care, jobs, food, industry, energy and safety, while maintaining the quality of life in the city.

In many of these cases, technology has become more and more important. It has given cities the opportunity to become more efficient and scale up to compete with other cities all over the world. Technology is changing our way of living – it’s innovative character is felt in the way we travel, work, organize…

Introducing Smart Cities

Smart Cities (also known as flexicity, electronic communities and cyberville) is not a fixed term, but a vision on how cities and their infrastructure should operate to meet the needs of its citizens. The concept of Smart Cities envisions how the Internet of Things (I.o.T) and an integration with all the available information and communication technologies can be beneficial for city management and thus its residents. Think of all the community services, such as schools, law enforcement, public transport, hospital and waste management services that can become more efficient when right data is shared among them.

However, Smart Cities don’t pop up out of nowhere, many incremental innovations are required to gradually transform a city into a Smart City.

Technological innovation at the heart of Smart Cities

More often than not, technology and big data are the foundation of a Smart City. So how can technology contribute to city quality?

  • It can prevent growing cities from a loss of accessibility, by sharing data on available parking spots, traffic congestion and improving public transport;
  • It can help in city management of lighting, energy, warmth and waste;
  • It can help law enforcement and with quick access to data and telecommunication services to increase public safety;

The possibilities are endless…!

Smart Cities Challenges

Innovation is often problem solving: solutions are found to current problems. But if this happens on a small local scale, the rest of the nation / world might not benefit from these solutions. That is one of the reasons there have been several Smart City Challenges, which give local initiatives and ideas a center stage. Smart City Challenges are aimed at improving the quality of life by enabling local development.

The Indian Government organized the India Smart City Challenge to inspire municipal officials in developing smart solutions to improve residents’ lives. The best proposals have received funding from the Ministry of Urban Development.

A second Smart City Challenge was initiated by the U.S. Department of Transportation who asked the entrants to write proposals on how smart transportation technologies could benefit the city. The winning city secured 40 million dollar in funding!

Commercialization – change makers

The driving factors behind Smart Cities are often major IT companies who are responsible for the information networks, as well as the public utilities (energy / water) companies. Below you can find a few examples of how these corporations can contribute to Smart Cities:

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