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Are smart cities really that smart?

date: 15 December 2015
reading time: 3 min

We all remember movies that seemed a little bit too science fiction to ever become real. How about cities that have a ‘brain’ of some sort? Quite extraordinary, isn’t it? Well, it’s high time you got used to the idea because their time is now.

What is a smart city? Well, it is a place where typical infrastructure is combined with smart solutions facilitating everyday lives.

Sounds doable, doesn’t it? However, it isn’t easy to become a smart city since quite a few requirements must be met. Firstly, according to European Urban Audit, a given city must have a specific number of citizens – between 300 000 and 1 million. Additionally,  a city must be on the Urban Audits lists and be able to identify its boundaries (80% of free area is needed).

1. Smart city for safety

Modern technologies emerge every day. In this chasing world, each minute becomes priceless. You may wonder what cities can do about that. Well, Hong Kong, for example, configured their pedestrian crossings according to the traffic – this helps to better control traffic lights. In Singapore, traffic lights send real-time data to predict problematic situations on the roads. This is not all, Barcelona can steer the traffic so as to clear the ways for ambulances and fire engines, to make them reach their destinations quicker. All of the above are a great example of how innovation can save lives!

Cities can also come in handy when the problem of parking spots arises. Nice partnered with Cisco to make this problematic activity easier. They introduced sensors that indicate free spots in given areas. They also control the lights and waste disposal of the city. All of this to make everyday lives of their citizens easier, and to save money of course.

2. Smart city for environment

There are many ways to improve the environment. Smart cities all over the world try to outrun themselves in coming up with better solutions. That is why, New York has world’s best bike rental service, whereas Brazil’s Curitiba has created a cheaper transportation system that made citizens decide to let their cars go.
Even though that happened almost 30 years ago, Curtiba is still one of the most ecological cities in the world. What is more, thanks to this, the city could transform some areas into greeneries. This is not all, 70% of city’s waste is recycled. Copenhagen, on the other hand, wants to become carbon neutral to diminish the CO2 emission and make their city better and ‘healthier’.

3. Smart city for people

Smart cities want to be as flexible for their citizens as possible, this is why reaching to them personally is a brilliant idea. Let’s start with Barcelona where authorities give all their deaf citizens a special device that emphasises the sounds of the city. In Catalonia, the elderly are given a special necklace that has an alarm built in it, which is connected to a special call centre that takes care of them in need.

It is our responsibility to answer the question we asked at the very beginning.  And the answer is: yes.

We think smart cities really are smart enough to slowly become synonymous with better living, bringing more and more opportunities. They help people, take care of the environment, and guarantee efficient use of technology. Even though, this reality is perceptible only for few countries, hopefully, smart cities will eventually stop being a luxury and will take over the majority of the world.

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