You may have heard of smart cities – but what exactly are they?
Around 54.5% of the world’s population lives in cities, according to a 2016 United Nations report. By 2030, this figure is projected to rise to 60%, with one in every three people living in cities of at least half a million inhabitants.
With so many people living in cities, managing urban areas has become one of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. The cities of the future need to be equipped to meet this challenge.
At the same time, technology is innovating the way we live our lives, and many cities are already seeing radical developments. These smart cities are implementing cutting-edge solutions to improve quality of life for their inhabitants, with improvements in sustainability, mobility and connectivity.
Here’s our roundup of four smart cities that are taking bold steps towards the future.
In 2014 Singapore launched a project called Smart Nation, with the aim of becoming the leader of the world’s smart cities. And, according to a 2016 report by Juniper Research, they’ve achieved their goal.
The city installed sensors and cameras to track everything from the density of crowds to the cleanliness of public spaces, providing huge amounts of data to analyse and act on.
It’s also a world leader in transport, having made significant investment in phased traffic lights, road sensors and smart parking.
The capital of Spain’s Catalonia region has recently made significant efforts to innovate its infrastructure and improve its inhabitants’ lives.
An initiative called Smart City Barcelona identified 12 areas where services could be improved, including water, transport, energy and waste, and implemented 22 programmes in response.
These solutions include sensors to monitor traffic, air quality and noise, smart parking, smart streetlights, improved wifi, smart grid pilot projects, smart energy meters, and a plan for reducing carbon emissions.
Bristol recently overtook London as the UK’s smartest city. It’s taken significant steps in innovating its city strategy with its Bristol Is Open initiative, launching a smart cities research and development network of communications technologies installed around the city.
This allows businesses and organisations of all sizes to test new technology in a real-world environment.
The south west city also leads the way in areas including open data access, energy innovation and community engagement.
Despite being taken off the top spot, we couldn’t leave London off our list of smart cities. London’s efforts began with initiatives to ease traffic congestion and simplify parking, with new roads, smart traffic technology and investment in public transport.
Mayor Sadiq Khan recently announced a new venture to better measure London’s air quality, and is making significant efforts to tackle environmental problems and improve data-driven policy.
Smart cities: the future is getting closer
There are plenty more smart cities innovating their public services, infrastructure, sustainability and connectivity.
As cities get smarter, the lives of their inhabitants improve. We can’t wait to see what the future holds!