Smart Cities: Passing Trend or a Window to the Future?
Integration with the Internet of Things continues to accelerate, but how to define ‘smart’ remains controversial.
The roots of the ‘Smart City’ can be found going back to at least the time of the Industrial Revolution. It was only inevitable that once humans broke into the scientific age, visions of a future where everyone had access and used technology to optimize their lives would begin to take over the human imagination.
The Exposition Universelle held in Paris in 1900 painted a vision of future cities full of diesel engines, moving pavements and escalators. Throughout the 20th century, the concept of using technology to improve the well-being of city-dwellers continued to evolve along with the pace of technology.
While visions for cities in the past sought to use existing – or desired – technologies to boost the efficiency of physical movement and human organization, the focus is now on sustainable energy and the smart use of technology for automated communication between devices.
The Internet has revolutionized the ways people not only interact with each other, but also with the very infrastructure of their public and private worlds.
The Internet of Things (IoT) – an alien concept even just 15 years ago – is now a very real pillar of infrastructure in the smart cities of the world. In short, the IoT refers to the interconnection of computing devices that are integrated in everyday objects and machines, allowing them to communicate.
So what are Smart Cities?
The current, popular notion of a smart city is a place where citizens, government and the business world can instantly connect and interact in real-time by using the latest available digital technologies. These cities strive to reduce their environmental impact while simultaneously making processes faster, easier and safer than before.
The list of the world’s foremost smart cities is probably not a surprise: they are the economic centers of the world, which have the resources and reasons to continually optimize the way their residents go about their lives and engage in commerce.
These are places like New York City, Paris, London, Tokyo, Dubai and Singapore. Other smaller cities such as Reykjavik in Iceland and Zurich in Switzerland also fit the bill. None of these have flying cars – though this might soon be changing – but what they do have is growing IoT integration.
Sustainability is a big factor in the classification of a city as ‘Smart’. And the IoT has emerged as one of the main platforms for realizing the push towards lower and more efficient energy consumption. Sustainable strategies will only work if they are automated and integrated enough to not be obstacles to everyday life.
From analyzing volumes of pedestrian traffic for regulating the speeds of escalators and moving walkways, to ensuring that lighting is only ever on when it is needed through the use of smart sensors – the potentials offered by IoT capabilities to help cities and businesses comply with sustainability goals is enormous, though uptake is still in its infancy.
With these points considered, it is safe to say that Smart Cities are no passing trend – they are already here, and their use of technology to optimize the way we interact with each other, consume energy and run our economies will become ever more prevalent as technology becomes cheaper and more widespread.
The companies that are able to understand the opportunities that this global transformation of cities into interconnected, technologically-driven zones will be able to develop the products that will shape and drive the future.
Find out how Bocasay can help you with the creation of your next digital product by getting in touch with us.