What is a Smart City?
Nowadays, I keep hearing people talk about a smart city. But what is a smart city and how it differentiates from a normal city?
A city whose foundation is information technology or IT is known as a smart city. Information technology is the basis of the entire city, its real estate, channels of communication as well as other facilities.
Each city or country defines this term based on its willingness to adapt to this technology and the desired level of development for a specific city.
Technology experts IBM define a smart city, as one wherein technology is used to create “instrumented, interconnected and intelligent” systems.
How did the concept of smart cities originate?
2008 – Global Economic Depression
2009 – IBM launches the Smarter Planet Initiative
Gradually, several countries have been inspired to join the campaign. Presently, many countries including India are taking effective measures to develop smart cities.
Curitiba, the capital of Parana in Brazil, is a great example of a smart city. Earlier, this city faced problems of waste management as a result piles of waste was thrown on the streets. The city launched a smart solution thereby recycling waste products and citizens participating in this activity were rewarded by the government. Hence, in a period of five years, 70% of the population actively participated in waste management and in this way keep the city clean as well.
Features of a smart city
- Smart energy: Buildings, residential and commercial, are efficient, use lesser energy; the used energy is analyzed to collect relevant insights. Smart grids and smart streetlights mark the entry of a smart city since LED lights are cost-effective. Smart meters are installed in homes.
IoT helps in better grid management, optimize power production, and distribute energy production effectively.
On the business front, a smart grid enhances outage detection, data capture, disaster recovery, field operations and grid modernization techniques.
- Smart data: A smart city collects huge volumes of data that must be analysed quickly to provide useful customer insights. You can install open data portals to publish city data online, this data can be accessed and utilized for predictive analytics to identify future patterns.
- Smart transportation: This type of city reduces vehicular traffic enabling easy movement of goods and people through different means. For instance, intelligent traffic systems vehicle transportation are great examples of a smart city; it will reduce road accidents. In addition, it will also reduce the levels of pollution, avoid traffic jams and promote a healthier lifestyle.
- Smart infrastructure: Big data analytics will help in proactive maintenance and better planning for future. For instance, you can conduct real-time tests for lead content in water supply in order to prevent health issues. A smart infrastructure requires integration of multiple technologies such as IoT, big data etc; the collected data will help make future administrative changes.
- Connected devices: IoT devices are a key component of a smart city. Sensors embedded into these devices will gather useful data which can be analysed to gain relevant insights. Free exchange of information between complex city systems will be managed in real-time; integration of data analytics will minimize accidents and unintended consequences.
- Smart mobility: Seamless movement of data through various municipal and administrative systems is essential to build a smart city. Technology must be interoperable and fulfil expectations regardless of who makes it or when it is made. Data should move freely between systems, with considerable attention to intellectual property, security and privacy concerns. Enterprises and governments should adopt state-of-the-art trends to devise their public policy and legal technology needs.
Top 5 smart cities in the world
Forbes report titled Ranking The World's 'Smartest' Cities, Jul 6 2016 presents the annual IESE Cities in Motion index examines all aspects including sustainability and quality of life in 181 key cities of the world.
This index studied 77 indicators, covering 10 distinct dimensions of urban life: economy, human capital, technology, social cohesion, environment, international outreach, mobility and transportation, public management, urban planning, and governance.
To top the list, a city must perform well across a range of metrics, not just excel in one area. Even the highest ranked cities have some areas for improvement.
New York (U.S.), London (U.K.), and Paris (France) are the top three cities recording best performance across various metrics.
Why do we need smart cities?
Frost & Sullivan research estimates a global market potential of $1.5 trillion for the smart city market in segments of energy, healthcare, transportation, building, infrastructure, and governance.
Abundant fresh, clean energy, efficient travel, safety and security standards are few of the benefits that a smart city offers. It is predicted that by 2050, about 66% of the global population will be residing in urban regions.
Major challenge for enterprises will be supply of basic resources such as hygienic and nutritious food, clean water, sufficient energy, and overall economic, environmental and social sustainability.
No city will be smart without electricity. A smart city depends on continuous supply of electric power to move people and things, collect data, and sharing information. To build an efficient smart city you require urban infrastructure, reliable energy access, and most importantly, electricity.
In addition, a smart city requires strong collaboration of different organizations in order to address the need of technology integration.
According to the World Urbanization Report of the UN, above 50% of the global population reside in urban areas. The rapid increase in global urban population has called for optimization of efficient, sustainable, and secure systems that will affect the quality of our daily lives.
IoT, big data analytics and other forms of information and communication technology will certainly play a vital role in developing smart cities.
However, along with the benefits of these emerging technologies, you also need to be aware of the risks involved such as personal data breaches, harm to critical infrastructure or damage to public trust.
Failure of interconnected devices presents risks of a larger magnitude. Disruption of infrastructure can lead to major risks wherein connected devices transfer adverse risks rapidly across the entire network. It is difficult to invest in information security and also create a sustainable environment; this is a major challenge of digital connectivity and data-driven services which are faced by smart cities.
With a rapid growth of urbanization and continuous evolution of smart cities, it is a challenge for enterprises to find the optimal balance between the commercial risks and rewards. Interconnected devices enable new opportunities and proliferated data offers relevant customer insights. Identifying benefits is easy, but several risks remain hidden.
So what are these risks? Let us know them in detail.
Security systems may be sufficient in isolation however they are not capable of securing interconnected devices. Hence it is hard to measure or mitigate risks such as financial data breaches. Similarly, commercial enterprises face the challenge of adapting to ever-changing technology trends and a lack of clarity in terms of information security standards, governance etc., which does not allow them to proceed with their development programs.
Prepare in advance to ensure you can prevent the potential risks associated with a smart city. Review their products, services, and also observe any changes made to the organization’s network profile. Continuous monitoring of suspicious devices, sensors, and other communication points is a must.
You must ensure the integrity of data collected through big data analytics for performing commercial activities and municipal activities.
Public trust is a major challenge due to the emerging technologies of collecting, analyzing, aggregating, and exchanging data which raises privacy concerns. Enterprises owning or depending on cyber-physical systems should maintain safety, stability, as well as availability of collected data.
The Way Forward: Digital Enterprise & Smart Cities
With more than half of the global population residing in cities equipped with innovative solutions such as connected waste management, smart parking, and smart traffic control, this concept will combat many of the challenges posed by rapid urbanization.
Gradually, IoT solutions will be implemented to save money and transform cities to a better place to live.
IoT offers unique opportunities for revenue generation, cost reduction, operational efficiency and improvement in the overall customer value and experiences. However, the digital transformation journey cannot happen overnight. We need ot focus on solving the current issues facing the cities and also have a long term plan to achieve the end result. It can vary from saving power in one city using smart lighting alternatives to improving citizens’ security through public Wi-Fi connectivity.
If done correctly, each technology plays an integral role in the overall strategy of developing a smarter, connected city. We need to pursue each solution separately and align it with the economic budget as well as the political constraints.
The integration of big data with other emerging technologies will essentially lead to the creation of smart cities.Modern cities must incorporate these technologies and techniques to make every city a smart city. I am optimistic and looking forward to witness the advancements that are to come in the forthcoming years.
To get more clarity about the features of a smart city and how you can develop one, talk to our experts now