Updated: May 30, 2020
While many people would think that Smart Cities is something only in our future, I want to help debunk that myth. Smart Cities are here now and will continue to evolve from here on out.
Smart Cities are happening now... and in our future.
To help everyone understand how Smart Cities are real and how they improve our daily lives it is relevant to take a look at how Smart Cities exist at present and what important trends are moving Smart Cities forward.
When we see exciting promises in our future it is because we are Standing on the shoulders of giants. That is absolute the case of smart cities. Many of us believe that governments don't take bold steps to solve our challenges, yet there are cities where this is simply not the case. Atlanta, Chicago, and Kansas City have shown their own form of leadership in demonstrating to improve, we have to embrace different.
These cities are using more that simply IoT (Internet-of-Things) to improve the quality of life for their citizens. All of the technologies that are currently on the front burner of change... IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, autonomous transportation advance what can be accomplished in a smart city.
Smart is More than Computer Technology
While LooUQ sees the value of implementing IoT as part of many Smart City projects, there are other ways a city can be smart and embrace new approaches. I came across a great example with quantitative results recently: Smart Surfaces.
Smart Surfaces are the idea of making a surface perform new duties beyond what it has always been responsible for. In this article you can see how like pervious concrete and rain gardens can lessen flood risks, solar panels on roofs generate energy and create shade lower building temperatures in hot climates.
Smart Surfaces, just as other Smart City initiatives make economic sense. From the article above...
"After factoring in the smart surface installation and operational costs, over a 40-year period the three cities would see the following savings: $3.6 billion in Philadelphia; $1.8 billion in Washington, DC; $538 million in El Paso." Smart Cities Dive
Smart Cities 2018
As you read this post, I would suggest that the following are important trends for the next wave of Smart Cities initiatives.
The cities laying the groundwork for how this all fits together are the thought leaders in how this process must work. Implementing a few innovative projects here and there will only go so far. Cities relying on or devising a comprehensive smart city plan will be the ones added to the leader list to start off next year.
Here is a list I came across recently, which I agree with and have tossed in my opinion (opinions are free for all readers).
Projects should benefit all citizens, regardless of their social economic position. Point made, be fair... end of story.
Infrastructure support for Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) will surpass gas powered vehicles in the foreseeable future. This eventuality will affect cities and the grid in significant ways. EV's impact on smart energy and the smart grid are valid discussions for another day, but EVs will impact cities in numerous other ways. Time to get ready.
Communication technology is poised for another big leap, 5G is changing last-mile communications for much more than cell phones. 5G new-radio (5G-NR) which is being field tested in several North American cities is going to help eliminate the use of cabling to the home\business locations, making high-speed internet access an option in new smart, connected things. 5G encompasses new-radio (ultra high speed data access) and new IoT protocols like LTE CAT-M1 and NB-IOT. So we go faster and slower with 5G.
While not all Smart City initiatives involve information technology, it is safe to say most do in some capacity. Considering the significant increase in devices processing information, it serves as common sense that we are inherently more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats if we do not simultaneously make efforts to implement security from the ground up.
Blockchain and emerging public shared consensus technologies are almost certainly going to play are part in the cybersecurity concern and some use cases around monetization of smart city data. This is still very much as work in progress, with many tech fanatics stuck on one technology or another, but I see the exact form of how "blockchain like technologies" will be applied less certain. Keep an eye on this.
Transportation is on the brink of massive change, not just one dimension here... fuel, who's driving who, who owns the vehicle, and how this is all woven together says that transportation will look quite different in our future. Transportation has such significant lead time in terms of infrastructure construction, it is easy to see what a challenge this rapid area of change will be on our civic leaders.
While many "smart city" initiatives involve information technology, that is not the essence of what makes a project smart. The true characteristic of a smart city initiative is new thinking. Einstein is credited with "Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results". Smart Cities don't do the same thing, they try something new, different, and most likely untested... All for the common good.
Thanks for reading
Many pieces of information for this post come from Smart Cities Dive which regularly provides clips of useful information for those of us interested in how Smart Cities can improve our world. You can check them out at the link below.