The Success of Smart Cities Doesn't Rely on Technology as Much as it Relies on its Citizens

The Success of Smart Cities Doesn't Rely on Technology as Much as it Relies on its Citizens

Naveen Joshi 22/02/2019 3

We obviously cannot get an exact picture of how our futuristic city will look like. But definitely, we can visualize or predict the make-over that our cities can expect, thanks to the various sci-fi movies. For example, the movie Minority Report that released back in 2002 included several fictional technologies like personalized advertising, gesture recognition, crime prediction software, retina scanners, and so on.

Taking inspiration from such sci-fi movies and backing the inspiration with years of research, tech giants, governments, and other business entrepreneurs are aiming to turn fictional fantasies into a reality. Without any doubt, we can say that sci-fi movies help tech enthusiasts join the dots to get an accurate picture of digitization, innovation, and technological upliftment. Robots, holograms, drones, autonomous cars are no more a sci-fi fantasy, today. These things are actually happening around us. We see a lot of transformation around us too.

More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. And, it is expected that 68% of the world’s population will reside in cities by the end of 2050. Therefore, with the aim to make cities sustainable, the city thinkers and policymakers are taking initiatives to upgrade and update the infrastructure and amenities here. Millions of dollars are being invested in leveraging the required technologies for achieving the goal of building successful smart cities. But, what exactly is a smart city? And why are the local authorities striving to make their cities smart? To be honest, there is no universal definition of a smart city. The definition of a smart city varies from one city to another. Developed countries define smart city differently from the underdeveloped ones. In general, smart cities are leveraging advanced technologies to streamline city operations, offering more comfort to the citizens.

Benefits of Smart Cities

Understanding the appeal of smart cities is not that difficult. Technologies have already transformed various facets of our lives. Goes without saying, when technologies are linked, the end result will definitely be convincing. By using technologies like IoT, AI, and ML, cities will become more vibrant, efficient, interactive, and effective. From connected parking to smart fleet management to a greener environment, smart cities will have a greater impact on the residents’ lives. Successful smart cities depend on:

  • How well technologies support the basic infrastructure
  • Where are technologies deployed?
  • Are the technologies used sufficiently?
  • Are they used at right places?
  • Are they implemented rightly?
  • Now. let’s list down few key benefits of smart cities: Enhanced citizen experience
  • Reduced greenhouse footprint
  • Safer and quicker transportation
  • Promote safer communities
  • Fosters sustainability
  • Boosts economy

Requirements for Making Cities Smart

Countries are increasingly choosing to make their cities smart. Technology-oriented offerings will make citizen’s life more comfortable, enhance the quality of their life, and save their time while conserving natural resources. While it sounds very cool that the government is taking initiatives for making cities smart, it will take a lot of efforts in making it a success. Making a decision is easy. Planning is also easy. But, creating a robust, effective, and accurate strategy for making sustainable and successful smart cities is no easy undertaking. Right from the infrastructure to resources to funds, everything has to be relooked from time to time. The overall process of becoming smart is not as easy as one might think.

No predefined set of rules can be followed by the city planners to make their cities smart. But without a roadmap, meeting the goal of sustainable smart cities gets even more difficult. In an attempt to help the city planners to some extent, we provide them with the requirements that should be met, importantly.

  • Funds - Before deploying any new technology, the local municipal authorities should ensure that they have enough funds. Even though there is enough money issued by the government to the local bodies, criminal activities and illegalities like corruption hinder the seamless flow of the money. The government should ensure that the deposited funds in the banks flow through the hands of the authorized people only. For ensuring such complete and high-level transparency, blockchain can be helpful.

  • Technology - Smart cities rely on how city thinkers use the technology, deploy the IoT sensors, collect and receive data, and give life to non-living things. The data that gets generated from the things around us is then analyzed by data analytics. Next, companies can draw actionable and meaningful insights for streamlining and making the city operations better. Hence, ‘how many’ and ‘where’ IoT sensors are required should be determined appropriately. For such tech-related data, the local authorities should first hire the most experienced team of IT experts.

  • Smart governance - Introduction of new-age technologies will alter the traditional governance policies, obviously. Also, the emergence of technology will introduce a whole new host of privacy and security concerns. Keeping this in mind, governments should impose stringent laws for public safety. Also, the administrative operations will no longer include traditional pen and paper for data storing. Technologies will take control over every single process that is carried out by the government. Hence, the local authorities should have sound knowledge on how to operate the technologies.

Creating a digital infrastructure is a huge and smart move by the government. But, transforming into a digitized world is not a one-step process. Instead, it is a continuous process. Things that the government can do for making smart cities sustainable are many, which can only be identified by constant experiments. With the help of the trial and error method, governments would better understand the requirements for building successful smart cities. But, what if the citizens aren’t smart enough to realize the idea behind making cities smart? What if they aren’t using technologies optimally? What if they don’t understand the operation of advanced technologies?

Key to Successful Smart Cities

The transformation of cities will change everything, for sure. But before that cities should be well prepared for the transformation. And for cities to get prepared, the citizens should be ready for the change. Because ultimately, the ecosystem of smart cities is for citizens to sustain. Developed, developing, and underdeveloped nations should take equal efforts to make their citizens ‘smart’ first. Because not every individual will be a tech-savvy, right? Hence, the first requirement towards achieving success at this initiative is to teach, encourage, and change the attitude of citizens. Making citizens understand the benefits of smart cities will help the city thinkers to attain success at smart cities. Campaigns should be undertaken for making citizens understand the advantage of smart cities.

At the heart of digitized cities lie the residents. Their satisfaction, engagement, and support will positively impact the success of smart cities. Hence, the citizen-centric approach should be the main aspect while policymakers develop an effective strategy for a smart, resilient, and green city.

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  • Adam Jarvis

    The best smart cities have trees, wide spaces to run, cycle and to walk. The traffic of cars does destroy the city as the liveable space. The better solution is to put larger roads with parking under the ground, and the slow roads on top.

  • Ellie Wood

    This is like when 100 years ago people imagined how the future would be.

  • David Harris

    I love it that governments around the world care so much about the planet, climate change and our convenience for the day-to-day life. The only thing left is stop throwing bombs on people and start feeding the homeless instead of giving even more money to the rich.

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Naveen Joshi

Tech Expert

Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.

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