What is a Smart City?

By 2050, it is estimated that 66% of the global population will live in cities. To keep pace with this large migration from rural to urban areas, city authorities must keep up with demand for innovation or risk stagnation and disgruntled citizens. The smart city is one thing many city planners have high hopes for. Smart cities use connected devices and sensors to gather, analyse and exchange data to help make society more efficient.  This bringing together of many systems and devices is called the Internet of Things or IoT.

We have already begun to witness how the IoT can transform our lives. Whether that’s the gadgets on our wrists and in our cars, to sensors in factories, power companies and agriculture. More and more things are now connected, helping us lead more productive and safer lives.

The smart city promises to take this innovation one step further. It will enable a world where entire societies are connected to the Internet, communicating to deliver more sustainable way of life.

This may sound daunting but the roll-out of the technology will be slow and measured. As the technology starts to become integrated into our cities, we will see the quality and performance of services such as energy, transportation and utilities vastly improved. In theory, this will also reduce waste and consumption for city authorities, cutting costs and improving our quality of life.

For instance, like in San Diego USA, connected traffic lights will be able to monitor and respond to different traffic levels, helping to reduce congestion, pollution and unnecessary delays. Connected cars will be able to communicate with car parks and petrol stations, helping to direct drivers to available spots or of queuing. Smart garbage disposal could see our trash cans send real-time updates to waste management companies and schedule pick-up as needed, rather than rely on the pre-planned schedule.

Smart cities also have the capabilities to improve the security infrastructure in society. Connected cameras, intelligent road systems and public safety monitoring can provide an added layer of protection and emergency support to aid the public when needed.

Cities across the world are already implementing their own smart city initiatives that respond to the unique needs and aspirations of the location. The Danish capital is the world’s leading smart city according to EasyPark Smart City Index 2017. Copenhagen takes the top spot due to the city’s healthy start-up ecosystem and sustainable profile. Additionally, Copenhagen receives top scores in categories such as smart buildings, digitalization of government, citizen participation and smartphone penetration.

Copenhagen provides a clear example of the great potential to change and improve the way we live our lives.

What are your thoughts on the smart city? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @JustAskGemalto.