Although there is no agreed definition of Smart City, enterprises, institutions, and experts agree that are those cities that are committed to improving the lives of its inhabitants and, simultaneously, for sustainability.
Thus, for example, the Smart Cities in White Paper states that “the ultimate purpose of a Smart City is to achieve efficient management in all areas of the city (urbanism, infrastructure, transport, services, education, health, public safety, energy, etc.), satisfying at the same time the needs of the city and its citizens.” Ultimately, it is about finding the balance between the welfare of citizens and the preservation of the environment.
The population of the cities has experienced an enormous development throughout history, but nothing compared with the last decades. To get an idea, the UN data is enough, according to which today we are 4,000 million urbanites, while only twenty years ago we were 2,300 million. And the trend is upward and unstoppable: the institution estimates that by 2050 more than 70% of human beings will live in urban centers.
This important demographic increase will also be accompanied by an increase in energy consumption and pollution, so governments will have to face the critical challenge of ensuring the sustainability of cities. To achieve this, in some of them several initiatives have been undertaken supported by technology to become smart cities.
An intelligent city is one that focuses on efficient systems applied to its infrastructures. The technological innovation is the key to developing projects to optimize energy distribution, waste management cleaner, reducing household consumption, better organize the movement of vehicles … In short, these initiatives are applied to any aspect that influences the organization of an urban nucleus.
Some examples that can be perceived by the citizen of Smart City projects are technologies that improve traffic flow, efficient lighting by solar energy, or the construction of houses equipped with systems that allow savings in heating or cooling.
Benefits of a Smart City for the Environment and Citizens
The concern for the future of cities is not only due to the increase in the population but also to the impact of this increase on the environment. According to the UN, urban centers consume between 60 to 80% of all the energy of the planet but, also, generate 75% of the emissions of polluting gases. That is, if we add even more inhabitants to these high amounts, the impact would be devastating if no measures are proposed. Therefore, the ability to create more livable urban spaces and care for the environment are the main benefits of the Smart City concept.
The technological projects focused on the construction of smart cities cover many areas such as mobility, energy efficiency, education, health, safety, urbanism and many more. In all cases, the objective is to generate benefits for its residents. The most palpable for citizens of Smart Cities are:
- Improves Mobility: T
ransport, people flows, or road traffic is some of the main focuses of smart cities. Initiatives in this sense are focused on improving vehicle traffic, reducing traffic jams, facilitating travel on public transport, avoiding large delays, or designing spaces that encourage people to walk on foot.
- Promotes Energy Efficiency: There are Smart City projects based on efficiency when generating, distributing, and consuming energy. With these initiatives, cities manage to reduce spending on this concept, something that is palpable not only from the point of view of the population in general but also in households.
- Preserves Environment: T
hroughinitiatives such as investing in systems that optimize energy consumption, the creation of green spaces, the promotion of the electric car or renewable energies, smart cities take care of the environment. This also has a positive impact on the health of people and the economy of the population.
- More Habitable: The planning of smart cities is aimed at the comfort of its inhabitants. The way to achieve it goes through multiple ideas to improve water management, security, more open spaces, garbage collection cleaner and less annoying, more green areas, promotion of electronic vehicles …
Examples of Smart Cities
The concept of a smart city is the sum of all the initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of the infrastructure of cities to make them sustainable. More and more urban centers are betting on this model that aims to make life more comfortable for their neighbors. Some cities are more advanced than others in that sense, but we can find smart projects in practically the whole world. For example in:
Considered the Smart City par excellence with projects to improve energy management, smart urbanization, mobility … Draws attention to the deployment of NFC (Near Field Communication) technology in public transport such as the subway, or commercial areas, to carry out the payment of products or services with the mobile phone.
Among the many smart initiatives that this European capital has set in motion, the “intelligent light” project stands out. It consists of a street lighting that allows adjusting the illumination depending on the situation or need of the place where they are deployed. Authorities can adapt the intensity of the light according to the climate or change its color. Lampposts consume less energy than conventional lamps.
Singapore is also considered as one of the main smart cities in the world. The city has deployed an immense network of sensors connected to the Internet that collects data in real time of the city’s operation.
The objective is to use the information to carry out initiatives that improve the lives of citizens. In practice, these sensors allow, for example, detect the risk of flooding the drains, avoid traffic jams, offer information on public transport, detect air quality, find free parking …
The city has a free Internet connection thanks to the Barcelona Wifi service offered by its town hall. With its 461 access points, it is one of the largest wireless network connection networks in Europe.
The Chilean capital has launched the first smart city prototype in the Ciudad Empresarial Business Park. Among the virtues of Smartcity Santiago is “the intelligent management of the electrical network, increasing the energy efficiency of the system and the care of the environment,” according to the website of the project.
But this initiative goes much further by integrating into the business center multiple technological innovations such as informative screens, electronic vehicles, public Wi-Fi, lighting controls or domotic buildings.