The smart city can be seen as the city of a future that’s quickly arriving; some cities, such as Singapore, Zurich, and Oslo, are already the epitome of the smart city realized. What then, is a smart city? It’s a city that utilizes different types of technology to collect and analyze data from citizens, buildings, and other aspects of physical infrastructure in order to minimize benefits to citizens. Fundamentally, it’s based on the premise of making sure technology is working for people, rather than vice versa.
Convenience is one of the main desired benefits of a smart city. Smart cities’ main features to achieve this include smart grids for renewable energy, including solar and wind power. Solar panels are already becoming mainstays in American cities including Honolulu, Las Vegas, San Diego, Albuquerque, and San Jose. Wind turbines are also becoming more common in Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets on the rise throughout the US, they’re the future of the smart city in our hands — being able to connect with the technology that allows us to unlock bicycle-sharing apps, pay for public transportation (and pay for many transactions) with apps, and unlock smart homes. Other features of a smart city include the rise of a remote workforce, telehealth that makes healthcare more accessible, and blockchain technologies.
Beyond the US, the world overall has recognized the need for smart cities. In fact, in 2015, 193 countries signed the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is to build sustainable cities and communities — primarily through smart technology. The UN predicts that by 2050, about 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. With so much of the world’s population projected to transition into urban living, smart cities are the way forward. With transparent data collection through technology, the government can constantly improve the resources citizens pay for with taxes: public transport, public and accessible green spaces, and inclusive social services. Though smart cities have sometimes come under attack due to the potential misuse of data collection, the potential pros outweigh the potential cons. With the promise of better, smarter cities on the horizon, it’s an exciting time to be alive.
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