- Published: 29 April 2022
More than half the world’s population live in urban cities today. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicted that almost 70% of the world population would live in urban areas by 2050, seeking economic opportunities, better education, public services, and living standards.
Urbanization and exponential population growth are the primary sources of various challenges to governments worldwide. Many cities have exceeded their infrastructure system’s capacity while facing further difficulties in providing adequate resources like water, food, and energy, in addition, to providing quality urban services to citizens.
An estimated 25% of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements, undermining sustainable development, prosperity, and quality of life.
Projections during the World Build Environment Forum in 2020 suggest that an additional 1 billion people will be living in informal settlements by 2035.
As technology evolves faster than ever, smart cities are becoming the future of urbanism, taking advantage of advancements in network technology to develop a fully connected urban environment for the technology-driven society.
Smart cities leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, communication networks, real-time data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other information and communication technologies (ICT) to connect all aspects of the city and react immediately to changing environment.
Science fiction movies and the continuous enormous evolution of technology influenced how people envision the future of smart cities. Many believe it will become entirely digitally- controlled, saturated with dense skyscrapers, holograms, robots, and flying cars.
Tech giants contributed to developing this image for the future cities by promoting their core business with insufficient consideration of other dimensions in the complexities of cities’ socio-technical systems and the people-centric approach toward a scalable smart city platform in the real world.
The digital transformation will not magically make our future cities more liveable, affordable, or resilient. We need to create a people-first urban place; with technology that studies human behaviour to reshape conditions by creating a vibrant society, prosperity of people and a thriving economy.
Smart cities and the UN sustainable development goals are designed to channel global developments toward well-being for all by addressing the global challenges worldwide and exploring how smart cities initiatives interact with global goals for making urbanization inclusive and sustainable.
The anatomy of our future smart cities will bring together people, processes, and technology, focusing on ten objectives using six enablers:
- Smart walkable neighbourhoods
Proximity, diversity, and density are the key factors to create 15-minute walkable neighbourhoods that will reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion, improve health, and increase social interaction. This old concept of a decentralized urban model promotes walking and cycling habits by providing all the essential social functions for living and working within the local neighbourhood.
- Smart economy
Cities play a central role in the global economy; a smart city’s economy is based on entrepreneurship and technological innovation that supports local productions while remaining globally interconnected. It promotes a circular and sharing economy, increases productivity and competitiveness with an overall target of improving the quality of life of all citizens. Implementing the circular economy in our cities can bring tremendous economic, social, and environmental benefits.
- Smart people, smart cities
Human development is the critical aspect of the smart city concept, supporting inclusive societies, embracing innovation and creativity, and focusing on quality education, vocational training, and labour market opportunities.
- Smart water management
Water scarcity affects 40% of the population. As per the UN-water 2021 report, 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries. 72% of all water withdrawals are used for agriculture, 16% by the municipality for households and services, and 12% by industries. Smart cities’ objectives will reduce water wastage, improve quality, and enhance efficiency through smart meters and monitoring systems using data collected by IoT water sensors.
- Smart energy
The smart energy concept focuses on reducing greenhouse emissions and decreasing dependency on fossil fuel resources by shifting to 100% robust, sustainable renewable energy systems. Smart energy is a process of using devices for energy efficiency like sensors, smart meters, and smart public streetlights, which represent 40% of the energy cost of cities.
- Smart waste management
Waste generation has increased significantly in recent decades. Rich countries represent around 16% of the world’s population, and they alone generate 34% of the world’s waste. It is estimated that by 2050, the worldwide solid waste generation will increase by 70% reaching 3.4 billion metric tons, with less than 20% of the waste recycled yearly. Waste management is one of the highest budgets allocations in municipal budgets. Smart waste management focuses on solving these problems using advanced technologies like smart bins with sensors and intelligent monitoring systems.
- Smart parking
It may be unnoticed, but parking has a major impact on our environment and cities. 68% of land in cities is devoted to parking spaces that could have been used for parks or public spaces that benefit the public. 30% of the traffic in cities is caused by searching for parking, impacting carbon emissions even more. Using smart parking systems can reduce traffic, improve the environment, and make our land use more efficient for social interaction.
- Smart government services
Governments are responsible for providing citizens with many public services, which is a challenge due to urban and population growth. Smart cities will adopt the path of “e-government” and digitization for all their public services to improve citizens’ quality of life and the quality of their service. E-governments will reduce traffic in cities, increase citizens’ productivity, and reduce the government’s investment in public facilities.
- Smart mobility and traffic management
Cities worldwide face a significant increase in congestion, lack of capacity, pollution, and safety. As per the World Health Organisation, 1.3 million people die on the world’s roads, and 20-50 million are injured every year. Smart mobility focuses on increasing efficiency and reducing travelling time by supporting a combination of multiple modes of public and private transport.
- Smart living
focusing on improving the social and digital inclusions collectively and improving healthcare, safety, and affordable housing for all citizens.
The six enablers that will successfully achieve the ten objectives in any country applying the smart city concept are:
- the IoT,
- citizens’ engagement,
- open government data,
- and government reengineering of business processes.
Many cities have ambitions of becoming the smart cities of tomorrow. Unfortunately, the requirement for significant funding limits this smart concept to high-income countries and maybe mid-income countries.
Low-income countries may not afford to prioritize the smart concepts over basic needs like food and shelter.
The digital divide, which is the gap between those who have and those who do not have access to computers and the internet, is another challenge that may affect how people interact with local governments and smart cities.
Autor(en)/Author(s): Omar Delawar
Quelle/Source: Construction Week Online, 21.04.2022