People have struggled to agree on one set definition of the “smart city”, however, what most definitions have in common is the process of a city using new technologies and data to solve its economic, environmental and social challenges.
Smart cities can be found all over the world, with some just beginning initiatives to implement smart technology, and other leading the way in smart city innovation. There are some great examples of smart cities out there, but some of the best are:
Singapore: Considered by many to be the “world’s smartest city”, Singapore is rich with smart technology innovations. Notably, the city’s approach to transportation is revolutionary, perhaps unsurprisingly given the city’s history of using information technology to improve traffic. The city is also renowned for its smartphone connectivity; the company Singtel recently announced that it was rolling out a 10-Gbps fibre broadband service that would enable residents to download a two-hour HD movie in 90 seconds.
Barcelona: One of the things that makes Barcelona special as a smart city is its focus on sustainability. From smart meters to smart grid pilot projects, the city continues to implement technology to achieve its comprehensive plan for reducing carbon emissions. Barcelona has also taken an innovative approach to drought, developing a smart city sensors system for irrigation. Sensors in the ground analyze rain alongside the predicted level of rain forecasted to occur and will modify the city’s sprinklers accordingly to help conserve water.
The focus of any smart city should be its people and improving their quality of life, all whilst looking to drive sustainability and enhance the city’s economic competitiveness. These goals are achieved through a number of common features, including:
Privacy fears: With the vast amount of data required to operate and improve smart cities, there come concerns over how personal data is accessed, used and stored. The issue of realising the benefits of smart cities without sacrificing privacy will continue to be contested, as data security is becoming the top priority for many smart city developers.
Lack of data: Whilst many have concerns with data usage, others believe there is still not enough data to further drive smart city innovations. More specifically, some believe new types of data are key to moving smart cities before.
5G implementation: One key aspect to many smart cities is connectivity, however with this comes the pressure to meet demands for faster connections and city-wide 5G coverage, something which is both difficult and expensive to implement.
Funding: Smart cities are considered long-term projects, which will continue to benefit cities and their residents for years to come. However, as with many long-term ROI projects, initial costs are high and difficult to fund.
Data storage: Storing the huge amounts of data needed for a smart city to run properly is no simple, or cheap, task. Moreover, ensuring the security of municipal data will entail even more costs, yet is of paramount importance to smart city developers.
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