What makes a Smart City smart?
Looking only at streets and buildings, it’s difficult to tell if a city is a smart city. Monorails may dart between tall glass towers that gleam in futuristic shapes. Boulevards may be wide and buffered with parkland. Is that a smart city?
One shining city might deplete resources and accumulate waste, while an older city allocates energy and water wisely, handling waste materials efficiently. Smart City citizens engage more in commerce and enjoy more at leisure. They spend less time in traffic or looking for parking spaces.
Data makes the difference. Here is what makes a smart city work for its citizens, government, and enterprise:
Data originates with sensors. A counting sensor might see the number of spaces available on a street. A pressure sensor might know that a dumpster is empty so the waste management truck need not stop there. Speed and location sensors might know where traffic has stopped.
In smart cities, people, resources, and services are all connected through technology. A police dispatcher at an office console is immediately aware of a building alarm. Parks maintenance workers receive text messages when water gushes from a broken sprinkler.
- Data Integration
When room access systems interact with temperature control systems, energy and dollars are saved. When data from a building monotoring system works together with data from an emergency services system, the needed people and equipment are dispatched. Lives are saved.
In smart cities, an available bicycle at the nearest bike share location can be found via cell phone. Irrigation and fountains can be made responsive to drought. When a sold-out concert ends, more transport can be waiting and stoplight timings be adjusted until the audience has exited.
Tolls, parking fees, and bus fare can all collected when incurred and without cash or credit card. Many licenses, fees, fines, and taxes can be paid via the internet, without a visit to city hall or county office. Fewer checks are written and fewer lines form at city desks.
Claiming the future
Each day, precisely at dawn, the world of the future becomes the world of today.
Representatives from 200 cities attended the Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo in Kansas City. Representing those cities, 2,500 leaders looked to the future. Many of them discussed goals for 2020, 2025, and beyond.
Many of those plans are in-progress today. In your city, you may not see wrecking ball or hear jackhammers shattering concrete. Instead, you may one day see a solar-powered, self-compacting, wirelessly-connected recycling bin. The next day, a digital map may show where buses currently are, and inform you when the next will arrive.
Smart cities require design, but not always demolition. The things that make a smart city smart… awareness, connectivity, data integration, tracking, and processing… can be implemented wirelessly with today’s technologies. Wi-fi and bluetooth work. Solar-powered parking meters and about 10 billion other devices have already been connected to the Internet Of Things (IOT).
Information is data organized for a purpose. Data that has been processed, interpreted, organized, structured, and meaningfully presented can be useful information. At that point it can become human knowledge, the basis of the smart decisions made in your smart city.