The science fiction of yesterday is now becoming the reality of today. The smart cities of tomorrow are already here, and it is no longer just a concept imagined or a dream of the future. It has become more than just a buzzword thanks to the different technological advancements that we have witnessed evolve over time, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices. Contrary to popular belief, it is neither the devices nor the technologies alone that really makes a “smart city” smart, although they play a big role in enabling smart city initiatives. So, what makes smart cities smart then? To build a smart city, a system of sensors, networks and applications must be connected for data to be collected, evaluated, and realised to help come up with intelligent solutions and better decisions that would in turn help improve the cities and its citizens’ qualities of lives.
The rate of urbanisation will continue to rise significantly and cities across the globe will have to deal with this change in technological trajectory. At present, approximately 50 percent of the worldwide population live in cities and by 2050, it is predicted that this figure will reach up to 70 percent. As this happens, cities will need to adapt to the rapid expansion and provide support to the booming populations. Furthermore, the challenges become more complex and conventional solutions will no longer be adequate. Enter the need for cities to employ smart and digitized solutions to resolve common problems. What are these problems we are trying to solve? Everything from streamlining parking services to maximising our utilities usage to improve city’s sustainability and efficiency.
Smart cities are happening now. Cities across the globe are changing and we need to keep up. Barcelona and Amsterdam are leading the charge in smart city adoption, followed closely by London, Boston, New York City, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, and Seoul.
Barcelona is one of the first cities in the world to implement innovative technologies to help improve the quality of life for its citizens. The city makes use of different sensors and intelligent devices to optimise public transport through smart bicycles and buses, increase liveability by monitoring noise, pollution, temperature and humidity, and promote a more sustainable region by making utilities and waste management more efficient.
Amsterdam has a holistic approach to smart cities, recognising that contribution from the government, businesses, universities and the wider population is crucial to the success of the digital transformation. One of the earliest initiatives was the development of the Amsterdam Smart City Platform which acts as a centralised collaboration forum for teams from different sectors to plan their smart city projects. This platform paved the way for the Smart City Solutions Ecosystem which continues to thrive today.