A smart and sustainable city leverages information to link systems and people together
Always on and always connected. Life’s daily tasks made intelligent, virtual and augmented, all in real time. Our centuries-old infrastructure is a perfect conduit for new and emerging technologies.
A smart and sustainable city leverages information to link systems and people together, with the overarching goal of improving quality of life while increasing the efficiency of urban operations, services, and resources.1 This connectivity must be available 24/7, throughout the city and to all citizens. While the communications infrastructure can be a combination of different network technologies, optical fiber technology ensures faster connection speeds on the ground and enables high-quality and high-speed Wi-Fi networks.
The lack of clarity over what makes a city smart, coupled with population growth, poses challenges that threaten widespread adoption of the smart city model and presents risk for the city and its citizens.
In the past decade, the world has experienced exponential growth in its urban regions. Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in an urban area, and by 2050, 66 per cent are expected to live in cities.2 This rapid growth in urbanisation will challenge cities to provide sustainable access to basic services such as water, energy, transportation infrastructure, and health and safety. Having systems in place that allow for growth in smart ways is key to addressing these challenges.
Beyond a clear vision and strategic population planning, financial investments must be viewed in a different light than that of historical city development. Long-term investments, with a focus on consistent progress and collaboration, will allow time for thoughtful transitions to new planning and development models. The effort to migrate from older, established systems to new, smart, and sustainable ones warrants a local and global collaboration. Cities and municipalities will have to involve different sectors -- public, private, nonprofit, government -- to achieve this worthy goal.
There are many great initiatives successfully executed or in progress today that bring us ever closer to the goal. Following are examples of smart city initiatives that have succeeded by connecting systems and making processes, services and resources more efficient while improving the quality of life of residents.
Cities around the world such as Buenos Aires, Argentina; Medellín, Colombia; Santander, Spain; Niterói, Brazil; and New York City are more secure after the implementation of all security solutions based on the systematic monitoring, that is, real-time data collection and evaluation of public places.
Transportation infrastructure and mobility
The cities of Bogota and Medellín, Colombia, are implementing effective public transportation solutions to address mobility problems. The average daily commute is three to four hours. With the implementation of horizontal and vertical signage, smart traffic lights, and monitoring cameras, the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) has significantly improved urban mobility in the city.
Risk management and disaster preparedness
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is focused on the five priorities set out in the Kyoto Protocol: make disaster reduction a priority; know the risk and take action; build understanding and awareness; reduce risks; and be prepared and ready to act.
San Diego, California, has implemented a smart street lighting system, an example of how public-private partnerships can drive innovation and promote return on investment.
Smart water management
Singapore adopted various strategies for seawater desalination and wastewater recycling on a large scale. In Nassau, Bahamas, the government is investing in a physical loss containment plan. Some communities in southern Nevada began testing a technology based on sensors that detect soil moisture and activate the irrigation system only when needed.
The city of Itu, Sao Paulo, Brazil, has begun to address the issue of waste disposal management in an integrated manner. Santander, Spain, has automated its garbage collection by investing in the use of smart containers.
Tacoma, Washington, and Montréal, Canada, invest in the digitization of school information and use mobile applications to improve assistance to students and increase learning and pass rates.
In San Francisco, California, Estonia, and Japan, e-health initiatives include unification of people’s health data in an electronic medical record, a digital identity that allows people to get medicines using digital prescriptions, the use of electronic tablets to track the well-being of the elderly, and analytics systems to prevent deaths during heat waves.
The world is embracing smart cities as a way to mitigate the inherit risks of wasted resources and lower quality of life. The smart applications discussed all share a network infrastructure requirement, and the fiber infrastructure requirements behind each of these applications is just an incremental step to any infrastructure upgrades.
Cities around the globe are planning the transformation from traditional to smart cities that will benefit everyone. By creating a clear vision, collaborating in new and innovative ways, and refocusing financial priorities, the smart city model will bring new life and vibrancy to our world, ushering in an era of enormous potential and growth.
Turning smart cities into kind cities, by Amos Meiri, CEO, Colu
What type of society does municipal digitalisation create?
The internet of things: connecting devices to save the planet, by Manfred Kube, Gemalto M2M, Germany
IoT is already impacting sustainability and outright support of the environment