Smart cities are booming due to the demand for a better metropolitan quality of life. Over half of the world’s population now lives in cities, which is why one of the UN Goals is to ensure that these places are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. While in 2015 around 4 billion people lived in urban centers, this number is set to increase to 5 billion in 2030. Such rapid growth is behind problems like contamination, traffic restrictions, rising property prices, etc.
Artificial Intelligence and its related technologies are key to building smart cities that provide useful solutions to these issues. Together with smartphones and internet access, AI has connected over half of the global population. Which is why there are numerous digital transformation opportunities in these areas. The Smart Cities Council believes that urban technologies should be citizen focused and ensure the promotion of three fundamental values:
- Livability: cities that provide a better quality of life for residents and tourists, by providing a clean and healthy space that improves living conditions, as well as infrastructure that ensures services are connected and available at all times and in any place.
- Workability: the economic competitivity a city needs to attract industry and talent, as well as the heavy infrastructure required in terms of energy, connectivity and IT.
- Sustainability: highlights the need to adopt an environmentally sustainable focus in which cities provide services without harming the environment or creating problems for future generations.
Such technologies and the constant innovation that accompanies them provide improved services through optimized solutions. Cities must be connected to be smart, and smartphones are fundamental to creating these citizen networks. Smart cities need a solid communications infrastructure to allow information to be transferred quickly and securely. Connected citizens are then able to benefit from services and improvements in fields including mobility (shared transport, parking facilities), waste management, etc.
The rise of these technologies has led to the Internet of Things (IoT). Which means that objects equipped with sensors and connected to the internet have become ‘intelligent’. According to the latest Smart Cities study by McKinsey, the number of IoT devices connected surpassed the global population in 2017 and will increase from 8.4 billion in 2017 to 20.4 billion in 2020. These numbers include everything from the GPS systems that detect our location and help us to reach our chosen destination, to intelligent home appliances that work to ensure that everything is perfect when you arrive home.
AI, tech suppliers and developers are key to developing smart cities as they analyze all the data gathered by cameras, sensors, apps and IoT, to make this information and knowledge useful for improving quality of life with the right tools. Successful smart city development requires a huge network of intelligent apps and technologies. These are increasingly implemented in modern cities and have a direct impact on every aspect of citizens’ lives. Every day, more apps are within consumer reach, thanks to smartphones, which are key to improving quality of life.
These apps cover subjects including:
● Safety (optimizing the response to emergency situations, domestic security systems and using potential crime predictions)
● Health (remote patient support, wearables that can monitor health and easy to arrange doctor’s appointments)
● Mobility (infrastructure maintenance, e-payment for public transport and real time traffic updates)
● Finance (helping optimize resources and predicting financial movements)
● Energy, air or water (informing cities about air quality, water quality and domestic consumption in real time)
● Community services (including all of the social services provided in cities, which must be available at all times and in all places)
According to information by Deloitte, the implementation of these technologies and apps and the development of smart cities will have numerous implications for all levels of society, and especially for citizens. It will be citizens who benefit from any smart city initiatives, as these will aim to personalize and improve urban experiences. But they will also be responsible for helping to develop the solutions implemented. Citizens will act as sensors, generating and providing data through daily actions that will help develop and test tools. In this way, with suitable information and tools, citizens will be more connected, more active and more involved in the smart city movement.
All cities are racing to become smart places shaped by technology that connects every corner and every citizen. They must be capable of providing optimal and most importantly, useful solutions. A smart city provides better living conditions and develops services that support improved sustainability and livability, because a smart city is one that knows how to provide a good quality of life by making the most of tech innovations.