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What Makes A City Smart?

By Cormac M. Kelly & Katerina Zalamova

· smart cities,building future,next horizon,smart city tech

Cities all around the world are becoming more connected, more innovative and are looking for strategies that are citizen-centric, holistic, and multifaceted. Technology plays a huge role and is an enabler, providing solutions to the challenges that citizens and governments face.

When looking at developing a smart city, we need to be aware of the current challenges that the city is facing, be it infrastructure, congestion, or existing power structures. Municipal governments have already started to gear cities towards being smarter, looking to implement solutions that add value and modify the city for the collective good.

What Makes A City Smart?

First thing’s first – what makes a Smart City is its ability to create a safe, sustainable environment that is centered around the people’s wellbeing. The things that are focused on are areas such as accessibility, transportation, improved healthcare, reducing waste and inconvenience, as well as improving social and economic quality.

Smart cities are not all about technology. While technology plays a role, there’s a combination of things that go into making a smart city. A smart city is a hive of activity that is data-driven and is designed to streamline and automate processes, as well as help to make real-time decisions.

Solutions need to be resilient, and by using both history and analysing future trends, cities can identify areas that will be important to urban planning and development.

What Tech Can We Expect To See?

There are a number of technologies to choose from, and what would be seen would vary from city to city based on their unique challenges, environmental initiatives, and the end-goal of the smart city. We could possibly see smart buildings, smart healthcare, smart security, smart commerce, and smart transportation.

All of this, however, requires a technology-based infrastructure, APIs (application programming interfaces), AI (Artificial Intelligence), machine learning (ML), machine-to-machine (M2M), cloud computing, and a mesh network. All of this needs to be aligned with urban planning and environmental initiatives where humans want to live and work.

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The Top 5 Tech in Cities

Although, there are many technologies and details which converged to a smart infrastructure, we present our Top 5 of the technologies chosen to be the future of a smart city.

1. IoT 

IoT is the unique way to bring live to a passive infrastructure and transform it to interactive one. Its concept defines the communication between devices of any kind and the designs about the interrelationships are limitless. You can have sensor-equipped, solar-powered dustbins that plan and optimise the route of the waste collectors in real-time. This means the ability to track waste levels and use less fuel. You can also used it to achieve an energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly infrastructure and monitor widely dispersed processes. Smart cities can use IoT for a number of additional things, such as:

2. Robotics 

Robots have been adopted already in cities such as Dubai. Today, the main focus on their adoption in cities is for the following purposes, although, we expect to see more applications in the future:

  • Health Care Robots: You will start to see more specialized robotics in operating theaters and most hospitals have at least one operational robotic currently. Stryker has a robotic arm called Mako and it has reported more than 76,900 knee and hip replacement procedures.
  • Maintenance Robots: These robots could take on the maintenance tasks that are difficult, hazardous and unpleasant for humans.The benefit of this is that efficiency is being improved and maintenance is at a reduced cost.
  • Service RobotsRestaurants are already piloting Voice-Activated Drive Throughs and Robot Fryers while some restaurants have already incorporated automated systems. 
3. 5G Connectivity 

There is so much more to 5G than just speed. It’s about increased capacity as the network expands, responsiveness, internet of things, virtual reality and autonomous car technology. Healthcare service will expand with 5G as this will enable telemedicine conferencing.

There will be a uniform platform which will allow more users to use the network, exchange data simultaneously with a more consistent connection. 5G has a larger capacity which means it can handle a lot more connected devices and it is capable of utilizing different frequencies and there will be less interference.

5G will open doors to technologies that have been developing quietly in the background such as Smart Homes, energy management, transportation services will function seamlessly and allow for smarter education systems as well.


4. Automated Technology 

Imagine a city that understands your needs, where you don’t have to drive around the block five times to find a parking spot, instead your app will let you know where the nearest parking spot is. What about shared driverless cars?

If a pothole were to develop in the road, you would have an automated machine of sorts come and fix it and take care of all preventative maintenance.

With automated cars there will be a massive reduction of accidents and casualties. Autonomous transportation systems would work with your cellphones GPS and would be able to pick you up, and make your travel a better experience.


5. Geospatial Technology

Cities just wouldn’t flow correctly without geospatial technologies and it is the blueprint that turns smart cities into a reality. Geospatial technology provides relevant, effective and integrated planning by using analytics and real-time data.

Believe it or not but geospatial technologies can solve a number of challenges that cities and smart cities may be facing. Such as helping you find the fastest route home, improving transport services as it provides real-time location services.

Geospatial Technologies is probably the most important factor when designing a smart city. You will need the data of road infrastructure, and data about traffic and the optimal routes as well as looking at cultural heritage in order to build your smart city.

You are able to bring communities together, look at how to improve public health and you will realise how geospatial awareness plays a part in controlling diseases. Combine geospatial technologies with IoT and you are able to make better decisions, map out solutions for the city and improve communication.

But It Is Not Only Tech

As we said it earlier, city is not becoming smart just only because of technology. In CREA IDEA LAB, we are speaking about Cities Building Futures. This is a city which integrates all its dimensions in a smooth way making the life of its citizens enjoyable and easy. We have seen it before in our personal lives with the adoption of the mobile phone. A highly complex system where variety of highly complex technologies combine to give an easy and enjoyable experience.

Today, we can do it on a city level. Then, the city transform to a playground where everyone can express itself in a unique way by pursuing its dreams.

The role of the city changes from solving the co-living issues of its citizens to a tool for developing a common future through the accomplishment of every small dream.

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