The term “smart city” has been around for a few years now and is a popular topic of conversation in the tech industry but for all the obvious implications it might suggest, what exactly does it mean to us and for our lives?
When we think of a smart city, our imaginations start running and think of a technological advanced civilization where everything is automated – run by smart, self-aware machines – and by some measure – that is true.
Technology has always made it possible for civilization to flourish and move forward. From simple things like paying for your bus or train ride with a smart beep card which makes – a seemingly ordinary and mundane daily task a little easier and simpler – to machine-assisted devices used to aid in a multitude of different applications such as healthcare or construction that provides better precision and safety and ultimately improves the quality of life.
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It is for and because of these considerations that motivates us as human beings to push the boundaries of technology and what is physically possible, in order to achieve solutions to our most urgent concerns or to improve upon existing ways of thinking and methods of execution.
While the progression towards the development of smart cities is a real and on-going effort, there is still a long way to go before the concept is ready to be deployed on global scale. Most of the efforts are being done in highly populated and dense urban areas where attention towards modernization and development is needed the most.
Ultimately though, while this is a global effort, there are cities that have always led the pack in the race to become the next smart city. Here are some of the cities that are continually striving to become “smarter”:
Dubai – Smarter Government Services
The Smart Dubai Initiative launched a new app dubbed “Dubai Now” wherein it offers 50 smart services under 22 government agencies to make it easier for its citizens to access and process different government services such as paying utility bills to checking the status of their visa applications and much more. This is part of the Prime Minister Al Maktoum’s vision for the happiness and well-being of the people.
Singapore – Smarter Data Gathering
The Lion City is no stranger to the “smart city business” with its extensive public transportation system in place, open-minded approach to the Internet Of Things, and a generally high standard of living, not just in Asia but with the rest of the world. Singapore has been leading in the efforts to collect and study data from all facets of its citizen’s lives and utilize them in a meaningful way by developing better and smarter services.
The city’s Smart Nation program was launched back in 2014 and aimed to collect data through their own platform dubbed Virtual Singapore and use it to understand how the city works and operates in real-time and potentially predict social trends and behavior.
Barcelona – Smarter Energy Conservation
Barcelona is taking a different approach to energy savings that could potentially save it billions of dollars. The city is implementing smart lighting fixtures in its streets that utilizes motion sensors to determine vehicle and pedestrian traffic and adjusts light intensity accordingly. In addition, the system also enables drivers to know when and where there is available free public parking at any given time.
These are just some of the “Smart City Initiatives” being implemented all over the world. The United Nations forecasts that 70% of the world’s population will be concentrated in urban cities and areas by 2050. This will prove to be a challenging endevour for cities across the world. To take existing systems in place, optimize it, and become efficient by effectively using their resources at hand and to seamlessly integrate its services in the daily lives of its citizens.