The Top 5 Smart Cities of the World
We explore the planet’s most technologically advanced centers and what makes them so smart.
While the concept of the Smart City has been the subject of a lot of hype over the last few years, there are a number of metropolises around the world that do in fact deserve the title.
From highly-advanced traffic management and transportation systems to streamlined public services, complex and symbiotic Internet of Things (IoT) integration and sustainable energy optimization – cities from Europe to North America and Asia are leading the way on how to plan and build for the future.
Although the concept of the Smart City often conjures up images of a futuristic, entirely new urban center in the middle of a once-barren landscape, cities that have rich and long histories are just as capable of being “Smart” as entirely new conglomerations.
Indeed, we’ll argue that being considered “Smart” relies not on how visually appealing a design, brochure or central business district are, but on how technologically is used to serve the needs of people living in a city, and how it can optimize the functional requirements of existing in the modern world.
So, without further ado, these are our selection for the Top 5 Smart Cities of 2021:
The city-state of Singapore regularly takes the top spot in many global rankings for urban development, planning and technological maturity, and that’s for good reason.
As the world’s second most densely populated metropolis, and also one of its richest, Singapore has long had a need – and the resources – to think and plan smart.
The municipal authorities of the city have set up a project dedicated to urban innovation and planning project called Smart Nation, which involves collecting large amounts of data on dynamics such as vehicle and passenger traffic, energy consumption and public transportation usage, which is then sent to a centralized system for analysis. This huge input of Big Data allows the Singaporean government to partner with private companies to develop solutions that specifically use and target its real-world situation, challenges and needs.
Added to that, around 80% of Singapore’s residents live in government housing complexes, so this means that the country’s authorities have significant control over how to integrate new technologies in residential buildings. Through its Virtual Nation program, the government has partnered with private companies to build a dynamic 3D model of the city that is used explore ways to optimize aspects such as energy usage and alternative energy for the city’s residential buildings.
Norway’s capital is another frequent feature on lists of the world’s most advanced cities, and this is largely due to its status as a pioneer in the development and integration of sustainable technology and alternative energy into its urban planning.
Municipal authorities have already implemented a far-reaching IoT-based data collection and analysis system on energy usage in the city’s buildings, which it uses to optimize the use of lighting, cooling and heating. City authorities have set an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 95% by 2030, and have already created robust networks of free charging stations for Electric Vehicles (EVs), as well as completely cut their sales tax and parking fees in order to incentivize their usage.
Oslo’s authorities are also planning a 260-acre Smart City in its suburbs, which will run exclusively on its own sustainable energy, have extensive sensor integration for optimizing energy usage, and serve as a hub for technological innovation.
While the world’s most populous city may still be nervous about whether its Olympics will ever go ahead as planned this year, its residents can at least comfort themselves with the knowledge that authorities have invested significant resources in boosting the city’s already impressive “Smart” credentials.
With over 30 million people and 3.5 million daily commuters, the logistics of transportation and city planning are simply on a different level in Tokyo. This has led its authorities to nurture and develop highly innovative solutions for managing such a large population, which will be especially important if the Olympics do go ahead this summer, bringing in millions of visitors.
The city already employs advanced tracking systems to monitor traffic and will be using a large fleet of drones and thousands of face-recognition cameras to ensure security at the Games. The city’s authorities are also planning on using driverless cars to transport athletes and officials across the city. These driverless cars will then be turned over to the public transport network in 2022, contributing to the city’s ambition to have zero emissions by 2050.
As one of North America’s oldest cities, Boston is often perceived as more of a curiosity for anyone seeking to discover more about the early U.S.’ history as a nation. However, the East Coast city of around 4.3 million is also a lot more, and this has a lot to do with its position as a center for some of the world’s leading technological universities and companies, such as Harvard, MIT and Boston Dynamics.
However, Boston has made it to our list because of its innovative approach to mobilizing public involvement in its technological development projects. Boston was one of the first cities in the world to use smart initiatives to foster innovation, developing an Innovation District that has incubated hundreds of startups and created thousands of jobs.
Boston has also nurtured a concept called “participatory urbanism” that uses smart apps, such as its flagship BOS:311 platform, which allows citizens to report on issues in the city, from broken traffic lights to potholes and anything else that could use improvement. The city is also leading the way in the U.S. when it comes to public transportation, creating digital kiosks that allow residents to choose best options to get to destinations using its bus, train, bike-shares and car-shares, while also investing in a robust EV policy roadmap for when the technology becomes more widespread.
Last but definitely not least is Dubai, which has risen from a sleepy fishing village on the edge of the desert in the 1960s into one of the world’s most advanced and luxurious cities.
However, while Dubai is definitely visually impressive with its skyscrapers and cutting-edge infrastructure, its credentials as a true Smart City are gathered from its heavy investments in a range of projects designed to make life easier for its inhabitants while also cutting down on waste and emissions.
The Dubai 2021 initiative is a project nearing completion, which involves completely digitizing all government transactions and becoming a truly “paperless” city. Added to that, city authorities have also created autonomous police stations where residents can pay fines or report crimes without having to interact with a human.
The Emirate is also a global center for blockchain-based innovation, and is already using the technology for a wide range of different financial and Know Your Customer (KYC) services, while also incentivizing technology companies to use Dubai as their base of operations through offering tax breaks and creating special zones for innovative companies, most notably Dubai Internet City.
So, there you have our roundup of some of the most exciting and forward-thinking cities in the world when it comes to developing and using technological solutions to solve problems, overcome challenges, and create new ways of making life better for people.
Do you have your own Smart project that you want to turn into a reality? Bocasay is proud to be contributing in its own way to the global movement to build technology that serves people and businesses, so get in touch and find out how we can help you.