Published On: Thu, Dec 14th, 2017

4 Big Urban Challenges That Will Be Solved By Smart Cities

The concept behind smart cities is simple: integrating a wide range of information and communication technology (ICT) applications and connecting various devices to both local and international networks—creating what is known as an Internet of things or IoT. These technologies allow the local government and the private sector to gather relevant data, which they can use to improve the community’s quality of life and resource efficiency, all while developing more innovative to solutions to augment or change those already in place.

communication technology

Different smart city programs have already been in place as early as 2008. Key locations around the world such as New York, Stockholm, Glasgow, Calgary, Waterloo, Seoul, Singapore, and Taipei have implemented various smart city technologies in different scopes to develop services that address economic, environmental, and social issues. Their efforts in developing smart solutions have been globally recognized for creating urban environments that are truly responsive to the needs of citizens. Such solutions include the creation of smart energy grids, the development of traffic management technologies, the creation of safety and disaster response systems, and many more.

Indeed, smart city innovations can help provide modern solutions to age-old urban challenges that are present in every metropolis across the world. Here are a few of them. 

Basic Public Services

Nowadays, a fast and secure internet connection in and of itself can already be considered a public service. But beyond just providing citizens access to the Internet, a reliable wireless broadband infrastructure also helps smart cities ensure faster and more efficient deployment of public services.

For example, basic functions like the issuance of passports, driver’s licenses, business permits and other government documents can be optimized through online appointment systems, while educational services can be made more affordable and accessible through the availability of digital classrooms and learning resources.

Meanwhile, the work of uniformed personnel that deliver services like firefighting, emergency medical response, and police services can also be improved with the help of real-time data gathered from citizens, devices, and other assets connected to the smart city’s network. 

Traffic and Public Transport 

Data gathered from traffic cameras and other surveillance networks within the city can help traffic managers better direct the flow of vehicles and pedestrians, especially along major thoroughfares and during rush hours. Road repairs and maintenance activities can also be better coordinated so that they will not have a big impact on the flow of traffic.

On the other hand, the daily volume of passengers using taxis, buses, and trains, along with other relevant data like commuting hours, average fares, fuel costs, and so on can help transport engineers and urban developers in creating more effective public transportation solutions. Likewise, real-time data can be utilized so that transportation services can be made more efficient. For instance, by installing GPS devices in buses or taxis, transportation agencies and companies will be able to provide more accurate estimated times of arrival to the riding public.

Crime Fighting

Smart city technologies can also be used by local authorities as analytical tools in order to predict police requirements, including which areas will require heightened police presence based on historical crime data.

Surveillance and other allied technologies may also help in improving overall public safety. Different agencies can keep track of high-crime locals, while citizens can be more involved in community initiatives like a neighborhood watch program. Smart city applications also make it easier for people to reach the relevant authorities should they need to report a crime or other similar incidents.

Resource Management

Through the use of sensors and other similar devices, smart cities can better manage and direct resources such as energy and water to prevent over-consumption and wastage, as well as to lay the groundwork for power transmission lines and water pipelines in underserved communities.

Other facets of resource management and allocation that may be improved with smart city programs include zoning, building classifications, housing, and other urban development projects. Garbage collection and recycling, wastewater management systems, and pollution reduction programs may also be enhanced based on the data collected from a smart city’s network.

Smart cities aren’t meant to solve all of these civic challenges at the same time. In fact, because different local governments around the world have different priorities, it may be best to focus on one urban challenge at a time. From there, it’s only a matter of applying relevant technologies progressively, which will eventually lead to the metropolis becoming a truly holistic smart city in the future.