One of the defining features of a smart city is the assimilation and implementation of next-generation technology.
Smart technology has seen an incredible surge in popularity and innovation over the last decade. Think about the last modern city you visited. The chances are your city experience would have involved hundreds, if not thousands, of interactions with smart technology.
Since the mid-2000s smart city initiatives have increased dramatically, with big names like IBM and Cisco investing heavily into research around smart city technology and development.
But how does smart technology affect wider communities in urban environments? How does smart tech change the way we interact with the world? And, ultimately, how does smart tech shape a smart city?
Smart Tech & Data
The most basic definition of smart technology is tech that uses AI, machine learning or data analysis to provide cognitive awareness to what were previously considered inanimate objects.
But the implementation of all this technology is useless unless it serves one common purpose – to improve the happiness and wellbeing of the communities that live within smart cities.
From smart speakers which learn and adapt to our daily routines, to traffic lights that adapt to pedestrian and vehicular traffic – Smart tech has an unlimited amount of potential and purposes.
But one thing is present in all smart tech: data collection.
Smart cities are designed, at their core, to improve the lives and wellbeing of the communities that inhabit them. For this reason, data is one of the most valuable things a smart city can possess.
Data offers governments, city officials and authorities the ability to learn more about their cities with the information gathered. This data can then be used to improve city living and wellbeing for their communities, driving happiness and engagement.
The importance of data-gathering devices has never been clearer, with smart tech being implemented in all manner of things, such as CCTV, streetlights, waste bins and even smart floor tiles.
But with this growing surge of IoT devices, are we forgetting the importance of human beings? The aim of smart cities should always be to improve daily life for the people who reside within cities. Technology that makes people part of the solution is key to preventing a disconnect between smart city planning and local communities.
Smart tech like Pavegen was created in an effort to bring these two worlds together, allowing human to brand connection through the use of technology. It allows people to come together to generate green energy and participate in an immersive experience that is fun and informative around sustainability and ESG policies.
Smart Cities & The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT devices offer smart cities solutions which help create advanced networks, infrastructure and alleviate resource constraints.
Smart utility meters are one of the most influential IoT devices in smart cities today to help manage and reduce consumption. These meters talk to one another and are synced up to the energy grid, allowing utility companies to manage energy flow in a more efficient way.
Reports show that utility companies could save up to $157 billion by 2035, due to the implementation of smart meters alone.
But IoT devices go much further than utilities. From smart transportation to smart waste management, these devices allow smart cities to not only become more intelligent, but far more efficient – improving lives, reducing cost, and helping to minimise the impact of humans on the planet.
Smart Tech Connecting Communities
Whilst smart tech offers an unlimited number of physical improvements to city life, there are also countless social benefits: such as an increased feeling of ‘connectedness’.
Smart apps can now connect to public transport facilities, reporting on local traffic in real-time and even displaying how busy your favourite café is. There are countless ways in which citizens can use IoT gathered data to access more information than has ever been possible beforehand.
A connected community and city offers unparalleled benefits to daily life and communication. Air quality stations, Wi-Fi enabled streetlights and traffic lights which change remotely based on footfall are all small ways in which city inhabitants are able to become more connected to their surroundings and fellow citizens.
Smart Tech’s Effect On Sustainability
As sustainable efforts increase across the globe, smart cities are perfectly primed to spearhead a change to greener practices and processes.
From smart solar panels to kinetic energy generating technology, smart tech offers new ways of harvesting energy to fuel city life.
The UN reports that by 2050 at least 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, meaning the rate at which our smart cities develop will have an incredibly powerful effect on our ability to achieve climate change initiatives.
Smart lighting has already been proven to have a huge effect on energy saving potential, in cities such as Copenhagen. The smart city reported that they had achieved energy savings of up to 65% by switching to smart lighting systems.
By being able to track energy consumptions accurately and our emission levels, smart tech allows us to react to this data and develop smarter initiatives and processes. Information is power.
The Importance Of People In Smart Cities
There is no doubt that smart technology in cities can improve energy efficiency and overall operations. However, the more that these smart cities move towards AI and monitoring practices, the more we may be forgetting the most important of a city – its people.
Many leading experts believe the most important way to assess the success of a smart city is to look at the happiness of the people who live within them. People-first-solutions will continue to be the most important thing for city planners and developers to get right.
Alongside ML- and AI-driven solutions, it is important to put people at the forefront of smart city efforts. Public art installations or people-powered energy generation are just some of the ways communities can be involved in smart city development.
Pavegen partnered with Siemens to drive the importance of putting people at the heart of smart city infrastructure. By combining innovative smart tech with people-focused initiatives, smart cities can connect with their communities, driving engagement and happiness for decades to come.
The potential of smart tech implementation within smart cities offers near unlimited potential to improving city life and infrastructure. Smart technology shapes smart cities into more connected and intelligent spaces, capable of learning from itself and the communities that exist within them.
With a growing population and more and more people migrating to city life, it’s paramount that these spaces evolve and adapt in order to keep up with the growing demand on resources.
Smart tech ensures that through adaptive learning, city developers and authorities can devise more sustainable systems and processes.
Using 'people power', Pavegen’s award-winning technology helps move society towards a more sustainable future through highly engaging experiences that inspire people to think and act more conscientiously around our planet.