Smart cities are a set of strategies and techniques that allow a city to become smarter, more sustainable economically and politically. This concept is nothing new; however, it has gained much momentum in recent years as various strategies have been put into practice at the national and international levels. A smart city is one that combines technological advancements with public services and infrastructure to create a better citizenry. There are many smart cities in the world today. Some of the most prominent include London, Toronto, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei, Geneva, and Mumbai. All these cities have one thing in common – they have adopted smart city technologies to implement solutions for sustainability and quality of life.
London is considered as one of the top smart cities in the world because of its focus on sustainable development and smart resource recovery. London tops the list of smart cities in the world with regard to its focus on sustainability. The UK capital has many start-up businesses and developers than any other place in the world, which have contributed to its success. In addition, London has adopted smart strategies like smart city initiatives, which has improved its planning and service delivery. Furthermore, the city plays a major role in improving the quality of life by implementing several sustainability strategies that focus on reducing environmental impact, protecting open spaces, reducing the resource consumption and energy recovery, as well as enhancing resource efficiency and reduction of carbon dioxide.
Another smart city concept adopted by London is its high density development model, which aims to improve air quality by building very few high-rise residential, commercial, institutional and recreational establishments and by encouraging short-term settlements. A smart city also focuses on improving the accessibility, environmental performance, quality of life, sustainable development, transportation systems and land use through various strategies. The most prominent among these strategies is its commitment to improving its municipal solid waste management and recycling system. Its success in this area can be gauged from the fact that several large developments including Southhall in London, which is a project developed by British consultancy firm Atkins Consultants Limited, is now becoming the model for developing smart cities all over the world.
One other smart city concept adopted by London is its participative approach to transportation planning. Under this concept, the design process of transportation planning is carried out through a series of participatory meetings, which are taken by resident representatives from different areas. Through this strategy, residents of the concerned communities to meet with the consultants and experts to understand the issues that are faced by them. Through this method, the key to achieving smart city status is to ensure regular dialogue at each stage of development, with both the stakeholders and the local communities.
Other than effective management of natural resources, smart cities also focus on improving the quality of air, water and energy by taking effective steps at the community, municipal as well as regional levels. This approach has the potential to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas and climate change on human health and environment. The planning of sustainable urban services and programs will be underpinned by effective use of information and knowledge. For instance, creating open data and science-based databases will be used to conduct critical and in-depth research into important issues affecting the environment, human health and the sustainable use of resources.
Another smart plan adopted by smart cities is to create an inclusive ecosystem for citizens. In order to achieve this, comprehensive measures are taken at the neighborhood, sub-community and national level to protect ecosystems and sustainably manage ecosystems as a whole. These include sustainable and clean utilization and management of the ecosystems, adequate management of biological diversity, adequate and reliable recycling systems, etc. In addition, there are efforts to build linkages between diverse ecosystem stakeholders and promote co-creation of vital linking bodies like the World Wide Organization (WTO), local governments and civil society groups.
Managing traffic congestion is another challenge that faces smart cities. In developed cities, limited road and rail transport systems, combined with increased land consumption, pressures on natural resources, etc. create significant barriers to the movement of people. Smart strategies adopted by smart cities will provide solutions for easing the traffic congestion by reallocating traffic through alternative modes of transportation and improving pedestrian cross-walk movements.
Smart strategies such as mass transit, bus lane programs, bicycle programs and expanded and more effectively using existing public transportation will help reduce traffic congestion in urban areas and improve public health and safety. Other smart city technologies that are being implemented include smart grid technology and smart grid electric transmission to provide low-voltage electricity to remote locations. Enhanced signal timing can also reduce potential barriers to the efficient and effective use of energy, water and space resources. By implementing smart city technology and strategies, cities can effectively handle major infrastructural and environmental needs and become globally competitive.
Deepak Wadhwani has over 20 years experience in software/wireless technologies. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies including Intuit, ESRI, Qualcomm, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Nortel, Microsoft and Oracle in over 60 countries. Deepak has worked on Internet marketing projects in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange Country, Denver, Nashville, Kansas City, New York, San Francisco and Huntsville. Deepak has been a founder of technology Startups for one of the first Cityguides, yellow pages online and web based enterprise solutions. He is an internet marketing and technology expert & co-founder for a San Diego Internet marketing company.