Wikipedia defines a Smart City “as a technologically modern urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect specific data. The information gained from that data is used to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve operations across the city.”
What Makes a Smart City?
The fast-tracked development of new technologies including 5G, AI, cloud, and edge computing is helping to drive the evolution of Smart Cities.
Decarbonizing Building and Construction
The Paris agreement, an international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015, requires all buildings to be net-zero carbon by 2050. Today, commercial buildings account for 20% of energy use in the US, 30% of which is wasted. Smart solutions can convert them into energy-efficient and sustainable buildings while automating the way they are managed.
Transitioning to lower carbon energy systems is a priority. Analysts at Barclays Investment Bank expect to see significant financing in smart grids, next-generation energy transmission, and distribution networks that can automatically monitor energy flows and adjust to changes in supply and demand accordingly.
Other systems expected to drive the adoption of low-carbon energy will include smart meters, which allow utility companies to introduce price differentiation, microgrids for local sources of energy, and encourage lower consumer usage
Smart Water and Waste Management
Digital water technologies will innovate and drive new solutions in the water and wastewater industries. That’s according to an IDTechEx report titled “Digital Water Networks 2020-2030.”
Data provided by smart water meters will deliver real-time consumption patterns. Water demand response will be faster and thus help with pressure regulation throughout the network. In addition, sensors can measure a wide range of chemicals and pollution in real-time.
Internationally Singapore, Zurich, Oslo, London, and Copenhagen topped the list of the world’s smartest cities on the 2021 Smart City Index. U.S. entries include New York, Boulder, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Fresno, Cedar Rapids, Austin, and Louisville.
One example is found In Fresno’s CitiStat model to share and track data and improve transportation through an adaptive intelligent transportation system. Another is San Francisco’s many “green” initiatives for its smart parking system. On Austin’s dedicated smart city page on the website, they describe their transportation plans, which involve automated and connected vehicles, intelligent sensors, open data, and real-time traveler information. Fighting a decreasing population, the city of Pittsburgh has proposals in place for reinventing its infrastructure. They have developed MOVEPGH, their transportation improvement plan, which will make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly. The steel city also plans to rejuvenate the Almono steel site with a microgrid of solar and geothermal energy and render the city greener with LED streetlights and electric vehicle charging stations.”