Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mantras of the Smart City- 2

Smart cities are the cities that use information and communications technologies to improve livability —analyze them to uncover otherwise hidden clues that allow them to judge the effectiveness of programs, set budget priorities and deploy emergency relief the moment disaster strikes.

The real game is understanding, how technology can help make cities smarter:

Sharing the vision: how politicians make effective decisions based on a shared and consistent vision of the city, notably through public consultation and other means to involve all stakeholders.

Effective governance: the successful implementation of an Integrated Mobility Plan at metropolitan level is required.

Long-term political commitment: long-term political commitment is the key to realize the vision of an integrated mobility plan and turn words into action.

Strong links with land-use planning and economic development: putting integrated land-use and economic development at the heart of transport projects.

Long-term funding commitment: consistent and long-term funding strategy needs to be in place. 

Hardly a week passes without a mayor somewhere in the world unveiling the next ‘smart-city’. As they go about their business, cities produce a vast amount of data and smartness comes when you put that data to work. So far, this has rarely translated into game changing success: except in the area of public transport, apps using open data have made the jump from interesting novelty to reliable consumer service. Much can be learnt from the sector and panelists from the public transport sector, industry leaders and other smart cities.

Any smart city has to work on building a permanent infrastructure to collect Big Data. Installing hundreds of environmental sensors that will measure temperature, humidity, light, sound and cellphone signals. All this data shall enable the city to become a safer and cleaner city. The sensors can be placed on top of lampposts or other suitable locations.

Smart cities are nothing but they are true data generators, where all sensors placed within a city gathers vast amounts of data. And once the data is collected, it should be available as an open source to the public, so that anyone can access the data and make use of it. This would result in great new applications that citizens will come up with, that will have a positive affect on the city, helping it become truly a smart city.

Environmental sensors, just one of such concept for smart city, there are a lot of other possibilities when turning to sensors and data. For example:

Traffic management
Smart traffic management enabling car drivers to face less traffic jams, as data will tell which areas are busy. Traffic lights can automatically adjust to reduce congestion. Smart parking sensors automatically alerting drivers for free parking spaces and street lights only be turned on if someone is approaching, saving a lot of energy.
Maintenance management
Thanks to sensors, cities could turn to preventative maintenance management, saving the community a lot of money in unnecessary maintenance. Apart from citizens that can report damages on urban elements via smartphones, it becomes a lot more interesting if a traffic light informs the community that a repair is imminent.
Smart grids
Smart cities that contain smart energy grids will be a lot more efficient with their energy. A smart grid will be able to manage all the electric vehicles that require energy. It will be able to sense the amount of citizens present in time and location and adjust lighting accordingly. Smart grids will help community buildings also save a lot of energy and become more efficient.

Of course, these three examples are just the beginning. Cities will take another decade or two before they become true smart cities, where everything is connected.

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