What is a smart city, and why do they matter?

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As technology advances and AI becomes integrated into our every day lives, we must concentrate on 'AI for good'. The ethical implications of creating new technologies are a topic of hot discussion with headlines like 'Robots Will Steal Your Jobs' not uncommon. This, however, is a long way off and researchers are far away from creating artificial general intelligence. 

As the global population increases year on year, one way in which tech is being used for good is by creating 'smart cities'. Think about efficient transport systems, optimising green spaces, improving water and waste systems, and so much more to create sustainable urban developments. 

'A smart city is a place where the traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies, for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses.' - Smart City UK

We're taking a look at smart cities in the news to see how technologies are being adopted for a sustainable future across the globe.

1. Smart cities need to be more human, so we’re creating Sims-style virtual worlds

Huge quantities of networked sensors have appeared in cities across the world in recent years. These include camera and sensors that count the number of passers by, devices to sense air quality, traffic flow detectors, and even bee hive monitors. There are also large amounts of information about how people use cities on social media services such as Twitter and  foursquare. Citizens are even making their own sensors – often using smart phones – to monitor their environment and share the information with others; for example, crowd-sourced noise pollution maps are becoming popular. All this information can be used by city leaders to create policies, with the aim of making cities “smarter" and more sustainable.

2.  How Malaysia plans to win the Smart City race

The emerging trend of countries progressing towards smart cities is ever-growing. The all-encompassing aim of a smart city is to enhance the quality of living for citizens through smart technologies. And with an estimation that 66 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050, the importance of creating an improved system is crucial. Through the enabling of local development and harnessing technology such as IoT and AI, the drive towards smart cities can improve many aspects of urban life.

3. Smart cities will make urban living greener and healthier

Globally, the adoption of autonomous and electric technology will reduce pollution and increase the number of commutes made on foot, bike and public transport. 2018 will be the year of the smart city. We'll be reaching a point where the term ceases to be just a buzzword and becomes a reality for many living in the most progressive conurbations. More than 55 per cent of the world's estimated 7.4 billion people live in cities. In the context of climate change and resource scarcity, a move to more efficient, healthier urban environments is a necessity. But the good news is that from Paris to Mexico City, Copenhagen to Shenzhen, 2018 will see many initiatives to make city centres that work for people, rather than cars and trucks with high emissions.

4. Google Station expands Wi-Fi service to smart cities

Google on Wednesday announced its partnership with India's largest engineering and construction company Larsen and Toubro to bring 150 Google Station hotspots to  Pune. The collaboration is part of Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited’s Smart City project: it is the first time deploying Google Station outside of the railways. 7.7 million users have benefited at over 270 stations through its RailTel Wi-Fi project.

“Today marks a big step for us as we expand Google Station hotspots from railways to cities,” said Vinay Goel, product management director, Google Station, in a statement. “Our aim with Google Station is to bring fast Wi-Fi to more users in more places within India.”

Potentially, three million people in Pune can now get online within seconds, to message friends, pay bills, shop online and watch music videos at locations all around the city, according to the firm.

5. Smart city tech to drive trillions in economic growth

The positive impact of smart city technologies on economic development could see cities locking in incremental growth of over 5% and driving more than $20 trillion in additional economic benefits over the coming decade. These are the findings of a  new White Paper by ABI Research, which analyses the impact smart city technologies could have on economic development and GDP growth by 2026.

Do you work in Smart Cities and sustainable infrastructure growth? Get in touch with Yaz to contribute to this month's content or share your research: yhow@rework.co   


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