In the digital era, it is incredibly difficult to separate science fiction from reality, in particular with the arrival of smart cities, the equivalent of what people think how the future will look like.
Contrary to what one might think, smart cities are not necessarily futuristic cities, with flying cars, like in the Futurama cartoon! Actually, a smart city simply intervenes in urban planning and in the infrastructures of the city, using the new technologies of communication, mobility, the environment and energy efficiency, in order to improve the quality of life and meet the needs of citizens, companies and institutions.
The concept of smart city was introduced exactly to highlight the growing importance of information and communication technologies, of social and environmental capital, in pursuing an objective of sustainability and competitiveness of cities. Efforts are being made to optimise solutions for mobility and security and to adopt ecological and energy-saving measures.
SMART CITIES CAN CHANGE OUR DAILY LIFE
A city is defined smart when the investments made in infrastructure ensure sustainable economic development and a high quality of daily life. Let’s see what are the most significant advantages:
Smart city therefore means being equipped with a free wi-fi connection, driving autonomous driving cars on roads with intersections regulated by intelligent traffic lights, having infrastructures with a high level of high-tech technology. It also means sustainable mobility, thanks to the use of car sharing, bike sharing or electric cars. Thanks to the support of the Internet of Things, it is easier to improve the quality of life of residents, make the business more competitive and guarantee environmental sustainability.
THE 10 FEATURES THAT MAKE A CITY SMART
According to the company Seedwind, which specializes in environmental, aerospace and telecommunications engineering, to consider a “smart” city it is necessary for it to ensure compliance with 10 features:
THE DARK SIDE OF SMART CITIES
The majority of smart city initiatives are guided by bad intentions because smart cities are blurring the lines between the private and public domain.
Urban centres have always been at the heart of economic and technological progression, and this is essential for economic growth and sustainability. Indeed, competitive cities facilitate companies and industries to increase productivity and drive prosperity. We know that companies play an active role in the urban ecosystem.
The increasing need for a smart city represents a chance for businesses to re-shape the society. In fact, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in the cities by 2030. Therefore, everyone needs to embrace smart solutions to cope with the increasing competition of an urban world. In addition, both the public sector and private sector need to work together to realise the benefits of smart cities.
SMART CITIES BENEFITS
The rise of smart cities gives the private sector the opportunity to engage with governments for a mutually beneficial partnership.
Smart cities are “mega-community” projects, government driven. Their benefits will drive efficiencies back to the private sector, stimulating the economic growth, as well as creating opportunities for the private sector and for the investors. Obviously, governments have to create demand and citizens have to improve their digital skills.
4 MODELS OF SMART CITY
Krishna Jayakar, a professor of telecommunications at Penn State University (in the United States), together with a group of colleagues analysed 60 municipal programs with the aim of identifying the main smart city models. From this comparative analysis of projects implemented worldwide, four major categories of smart cities have been identified. The application of a model rather than another is linked to the reality of the individual city. Let’s find out what these 4 models are.
THE FIRST SMART CITY IN THE WORLD
Among the first cities in the world recognized as smart cities there are two European capitals and a Canadian city. At the first place on the podium we find Vienna, which conceived and implemented a smart city strategy that is constantly updated based on continuously monitored results. Vienna has also developed a system of intelligent traffic lights that, thanks to motion sensors, recognise people and understand if they are about to cross the street. In second place we find London, which has a digital roadmap with a focus on smart cities and the benefits that citizens can derive from technology and innovation. In the Canary Wharf district and in the Westfield shopping centre in London, Pavegen technology is used and it transforms people’s footsteps on the floor into electricity. The third smart city is instead Saint Albert, a small Canadian city, which has developed a smart city plan in 22 strategic and innovative fields.
As regards Italy, Milan, Turin and Bologna are the closer to become smart cities.
SMART CITIES IN OUR FUTURE
Today, smart cities involve connected infrastructures and in the future the cities will become intelligent ecosystems connecting government, businesses and citizens to facilitate decision-making and innovation. It means that, an increasing number of people will have access to relevant information and they will be able to improve their quality of life and work standards. If this sense, governments will provide solutions, while businesses will embrace collaboration and citizens will become city co-developers.