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The softer side of smart cities

By 2028, the number of patients monitored remotely will exceed the number of those monitored at on-site medical facilities

Is smart healthcare more transformative than some common smart city applications?
Is smart healthcare more transformative than some common smart city applications?

Transformative education and healthcare technologies are delivering smart cities benefits beyond legacy infrastructure models, according to new research.


While most of the activity around smart cities remains focused on infrastructure-based initiatives such as smart grids and metering, smart street lights, smart waste management and smart bins, smart parking, smart kiosks, and smart utilities, cities also need to address the “softer aspects of livability linked to healthcare and education”, which in turn drive economic growth.


The cautionary findings are from a new report, Education and Healthcare Strategies for Smart Cities from ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies. The new report forms part of its Smart Cities and Smart Spaces research service, which includes research, data, and executive foresights.


By 2028, the number of patients monitored remotely will exceed the number of patients monitored on-site in medical facilities. However, healthcare is being integrated into a wider “well-being” environment of healthy lifestyles, safety, and preventive attitudes, blurring the boundaries between traditional healthcare and overall smart city livability objectives, the research found.


Advanced smart cities like Singapore (FutureSchools programme, Smart Nation healthcare initiatives) and Dubai (e-Services portal for universities, Healthcare City) are leading the transition from legacy smart cities practices to next-generation healthcare and educational reforms. This involves leveraging smart home and mobile technologies, AI, robotics, 5G, blockchain, sensors, and platforms to promote eLearning and eHealth, the report states.


“Common to both healthcare and education, the provisioning of remote, online services is transforming service industries in cities,” said Dominique Bonte, vice president end markets at ABI Research.


“The centralised ‘brick and mortar’ approach of providing standardised education and healthcare at physical locations and at discrete times is giving way to virtualisation characterised by real-time, adaptive, continuous, flexible, and intelligent monitoring and guidance.”


While smart healthcare is increasingly targeted at the aging population – those who are about to leave or already have exited the active economy – smart education is squarely, but not uniquely, directed at younger demographics with the aim of preparing them for their future role in the economy.


From a smart city perspective, this brings smart education solidly into the realm of economic development, said ABI. It also has secondary, more indirect benefits related to inclusion and reduction of poverty. At the same time, ever faster enterprise technology cycles increasingly require continuous re-education, leading to new paradigms of life-long learning, peer-to-peer learning, real-time curricula, embedded and micro learning, which is shifting education from school to the enterprise.


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