Smart Cities: Addressing Old Challenges with Modern Technologies

Is your city a city of the future? Is it on its way to becoming a “smart city” that’s well-equipped to face enduring problems with new technological solutions? On that note, what is a smart city, anyway? How is the term used, and in line with what goals for a city?

A city is considered a “smart city” when it engages its citizens via a high level of electronic and intelligent infrastructure. A smart city employs technological solutions to manage a number of assets, ranging from its information systems, transport systems, and healthcare systems, to energy infrastructure, educational institutions, and law enforcement assets.

Utilizing principles like the Internet of things, a smart city harnesses technology in the public sphere by using real-time control systems and sensors to record data, manage public assets, and efficiently use public resources. The rationale of a smart city, then, is to improve the citizens’ quality of life and fulfill the mandate of public service with these technologies.

On that note, what are some of the urban challenges met and addressed by today’s smart cities via new and evolving forms of technology? Read on about four of these key issues here.

Health management

One of the foremost challenges of a city is being able to meet its citizens’ healthcare needs, and regulating the healthcare situation both in public and private institutions. One innovation that a city can consider in order to become “smarter” about its health policy is the use of AI solutions for health management. In particular, using AI in initiatives that deal with population health can help a city analyze and process high volumes of health-related data from its citizens. This includes collecting and organizing information about health and illness issues that are unique to the city, as well as studying and predicting health trajectories for specific groups of citizens in order to properly address their most pressing health concerns.

Environmental management

Also key to sustaining any city’s overall development is its environmental management. A city can level up to a smarter status by adopting more modern waste management solutions such as smart refuse and recycling bins and air quality monitoring equipment. Solutions like these pave the way for smarter strategies in improving the city’s air quality, energy savings, recycling capabilities, and solid waste management.

Utilities management

Closely tied to the environmental aspect is that of utilities management. In the utilities sector, cities can take on smarter solutions with smart grids, smart meters, and smart water and electricity monitoring, among others—thus granting utilities provider and citizens greater savings, resource control, and levels of cleanliness in their areas of jurisdiction and residences, respectively.  

Traffic management

In the area of traffic management, obvious tools that can be added to a smart city’s arsenal are quality CCTV security cameras and traffic or street light sensors. Wise usage of these tools can lead to the reduction of congestion in public roads, better street lighting, and noise reduction in places where sound pollution is deemed undesirable. One success story in this vein is Cambridge Transport’s Smart Traffic Management project, which utilizes centrally controlled traffic signals and sensors to regulate traffic in the city of Cambridge in the UK. The system adequately manages vehicles that approach junctions, smoothens incoming traffic flow in real time, and facilitates quick responses to traffic accidents.

More intriguing questions come to light as the concept of smart cities materializes worldwide. What efforts has your local government taken to make your city a smarter one? In what new, groundbreaking ways will technology affect everyday life within your city? The items above are just some of the starting points in terms of the challenges that need to be continually addressed by cities. Overcoming them in the interest of innovation, sustainability, good governance, and civil participation is something that can be made possible by adopting best practices in smart city development.