When you think of smart cities, what springs to mind? Do you think of talking cars and robots? Things you thought you’d only see in sci-fi movies are now actually happening. The question is, how is modern technology going to change the way our most densely populated cities operate? Cities across the globe are already making use of advanced technology to change how we live. Here are some inspiring examples:
New York has a unique approach to becoming a smart city. Instead of focusing on smaller, individual projects, New York has aimed to interconnect all of the city’s infrastructure and smart systems to create an overall better user experience.
To make the roads safer for drivers and pedestrians, New York has implemented connected vehicle technology. Connected vehicles use a range of communication technologies to communicate with the driver, other cars on the road, and the roadside infrastructure. Increasing numbers of cars are being installed with more sensors, apps and automation to become self-aware. Connected cars can share their mechanical information with other vehicles, as well as information about their surroundings with the driver, whilst also providing them with in-vehicle warnings.
New York has also introduced NYC Connected Communities. The city government are attempting to include all New Yorkers in the digital world, by improving access to computer centres in neighbourhoods with high concentrations of poverty. The program invests in libraries, community centres and public housing to provide new digital facilities and resources for New Yorkers. Digital training is also offered and has made a huge impact, helping over 3 million people get ready for work and providing employment opportunities.
Barcelona is one of the most well-known smart cities in the world and is a great example of how well they can work. Back in 2013, they launched their smart cities projects and these have transformed the way the population lives.
They have also implemented a smart traffic lights system to help emergency services get to their destinations faster. The system was first created to help blind people safely cross at pedestrian crossings. A sound would be emitted when it was safe to cross. It’s now evolved and the system is able to track the route of the emergency service and make sure the traffic lights they encounter are green until they reach their destination.
They’ve also developed a smart water management system, which improves the efficiency of park irrigation. The system is able to measure how much water the plants in the parks need and stops automatically when it begins to rain. It also controls the water levels in the parks’ fountains, using only the necessary water and reducing water waste.
In the same year Barcelona began to push their smart city initiatives, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum pledged to turn Dubai into the happiest city on earth for its citizens, and launched the Dubai Smart City Project. The project aims to help Dubai become a more sustainable city and reduce its impact on the environment.
One of their smart schemes was the introduction of E-bins - the world’s smartest, mobile, electronic waste bins. E-bins are able to communicate with users to let them know when the bin is full, where the next nearest one is, and which of their items are recyclable. They also send data to the recycling company to inform them when the bins need emptying. These smart e-bins also use solar-power to recharge, making them an extremely sustainable waste management tool.
Dubai is also developing the world’s greenest eco resort, which is scheduled to open in 2020. The Oasis Eco Resort will use groundwater, extracted using a deep well, for crop irrigation and fish farming as well as recreational activities. The resort will also maximise its use of solar energy, with more than 14,500 square metres of solar panels installed on the roof. All the resort’s power will be generated by these solar panels, and the excess energy they produce will be stored in batteries.
These smart cities show the ability advanced technology and innovative thinking can have in developing sustainable ways of living, which also improve the quality of life for the people living within them.