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Probably, in trying to impress their constituents or win elections, we hear local government executives harping about creating “smart cities” in their territories. More often, they use these “smart city” initiatives to justify their reclamation projects. Simply put, they will make “smart cities” beside their existing cities (or towns).

To better understand the term “smart city”, let us take the case of the other cities in the world that are so serious in this initiative. First and foremost, we should know that last year, the United Nations projected that there will be a huge surge in the population (68%) in the urban areas around the world by 2050. This surge in the population in the urban areas will not only worsen the current traffic situation but will certainly strain the existing infrastructure and services. Also, addressing the residents’ basic needs such as energy, water and sanitation will be a huge challenge.

In addressing these concerns, the affluent cities will be “leveraging technology based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and integrating an online population into new systems that make their cities work.” So that, cities like London, New York, Tokyo, Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, Singapore and Hong Kong are preparing for this eventuality. In direct response to such study, these cities are investing largely in their respective “smart city” initiatives.

To make a “smart city” works, it shall heavily use “sensors, networks, and applications that “collect data on energy usage, traffic volume and patterns, pollution levels, and other topics which are then analyzed and used to correct and predict usage and patterns.” Then, it shall make the “data available to everyone through open-access systems and allow citizens and businesses to leverage that information for their own purposes.”

So that, as reported by McKinsey, “the first layer is a technology base that includes a critical mass of smartphones and sensors connected by high-speed communication networks.” Then, the second layer of specific applications translates the constant stream of raw data into alerts, insights, and action.” The third one could be the most critical as there is a need for the public to buy in and participate.

For instance, apps that show traffic volume in real time “allow drivers and pedestrians to better plan travel routes and adapt at a moment’s notice.” That capability speeds everyone along and, hopefully, “prevents further backup in the congested area.” Of course, we all know that this is what “waze” can do. However, unlike us, cities like Singapore and Dubai are able to use these apps effectively as their infrastructures fit well with these kinds of applications.

Apart from “waze”, The Routing Company, a spun out of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, “dynamically routes shared rides in real time through a fleet management dashboard, a rider app and a driver app.” Also, it is currently developing a “platform that helps cities manage public buses and other transportation.”

Moreover, smart cities, through a sensor, have “digital tracking of waste receptacles that tells a garbage hauler when a can is full.” Therefore, unlike us, garbage haulers will only pick up those that are full. Consequently, not only that they are efficient, they are not unnecessarily contributing to road congestions like what we are experiencing here.

For business owners, they can open databases that track vehicular traffic and pedestrian flow. With this information readily available, they can easily adjust the movements of their fleets or adjust their stores’ opening and closing time.

See the difference between our “smart city” initiatives and that of other countries? In them, they are trying to make the cities that they have right now into “smart cities.” In us, we try to make a new “smart city” through a reclamation project and let the existing one right beside remain dumb.

Notably, however, we have an initiative in Cebu that we may truly consider as smart city initiative. Showcased by the DILG in the 4th ASEAN Smart Cities Network Annual Meeting last year, Cebu City’s Bus Rapid Transit and Digital Traffic System was one of those presented along five other initiatives in the Cities of Manila and Davao. Aimed to “improve the overall performance of the urban passenger transport system for a more efficient intra-city mass transportation”, sensors and high-resolution surveillance cameras for vehicle detection, license plate recognition and speed dome for general surveillance are supposed to be installed.

Indeed, a “smart city” initiative is more on transforming an existing city via technology, not creating an oasis (an orderly place amid chaos).

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Fidel O. Abalos

Quelle/Source: Philstar - The Freeman, 04.06.2022

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