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What is so smart about smart cities?

May 12, 2022

By Naseerah Nanabhai

These days, cities are advancing at breakneck speed, with many moving far beyond inceptive designs and features. Such towns, termed ‘smart cities’, are characterised by the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve efficiency.

Smart cities aim to enhance a city’s functions and encourage economic growth while simultaneously improving the quality of life of citizens. In doing so, smart cities make use of innovative technologies and data analysis to share information with the public and provide high-quality service delivery and citizen welfare.

Features of smart cities include things like smart parking that helps drivers find a parking space and enables digital payment. Intelligent traffic management is another example that serves to monitor traffic flows and optimise traffic lights to reduce congestion. Innovative city features can also include energy conservation and environmental efficiencies, such as street lights that dim when the roads are empty.

At the core of smart city features and technologies is the pairing of devices with the data and infrastructure of the city, which allows the delivery of a group of combined services to citizens with reduced infrastructure costs.

While not all cities are on the same level in terms of smart technology development and implementation, across the world, cities that are considered smart cities include: Barcelona, Columbus, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Kansas City.

Despite the benefits that smart cities provide, there are many challenges that they need to overcome. Smart cities need to account for social factors that give a cultural fabric that is attractive to residents and offers a sense of place.

Producing smart connected systems for our urban areas is beneficial for its inhabitants not only in improving quality of life but also in ensuring sustainability and maximising the potential of available resources.



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