The term Smart City usually conjures up images of uber-modern cityscapes with self-driving cars, pristine streets and smooth, silent transportation. Whilst this may be true for some of the newer cities popping up around the world, some of the biggest changes can actually happen in the places that have been part of our lives for decades.
The technology that makes cities really smart doesn’t even change the way they look, so we’re not going to end up living in a Blade-Runner type neon metropolis anytime soon. As always, the smartest technologies aren’t the ones which are immediately obvious, but the ones which quietly go about making life easier.
Here are a few innovations which are already making some cities smarter, and in turn improving urban living.
1. Energy efficiency
Smart energy solutions have already become relatively common in households, with meters available that allow you to optimise your own energy usage. This means you can cut down on the amount you spend, but also helps the environment as less power is required.
The same approach can be taken on a city-wide scale. Now, with all the connected devices available, it’s possible to gather analytics and recognize where savings can be made. Whether that’s automated street lights that only switch on when it’s necessary, or installing solar panels on older buildings to help keep energy usage down, the tech exists, and big data can help realise the true potential of the tech.
2. Digital parking
As the population grows, and the number of people living in cities rises, parking becomes more of an issue. After all, it’s difficult to make the roads bigger when they’re surrounded by buildings. However, there are innovative solutions available for both the cities and the citizens which can revolutionise the way we park in cities.
Using EasyPark as an example, for the citizens the app makes the whole parking experience easier, from finding a spot to paying for it. It sounds simple on the surface, but under the hood it’s extremely technical. The app analyses huge amounts of data in order to be able to predict where it will be easier to park, based on many years-worth of information. Then you pay using your phone, with no need to find a ticket machine or worry about time restrictions, as you can easily extend your stay.
From a city-wide point of view, the Parking Dashboard allows city managers and those who work with infrastructure and mobility to see parking patterns over time, making life easier for the residents as well as cutting down on emissions which are spent by people looking for parking. The more digital the parking landscape in the city is, the more the information the dashboard gives. If a city invests in a fully digitalised parking ecosystem, the Parking Dashboard can display huge amounts of data which can benefit the city and residents in the long term.
3. Smart security
Almost every modern smart phone has a camera which is capable of shooting high definition even in challenging lighting conditions. Now the surveillance industry is starting to utilise this technology in CCTV cameras, as well as implementing tracking and sophisticated sound detection technology.
Before you start to worry about being watched and listened to every second of the day, it’s not about that aspect. It’s more that this smart technology allows existing tech to be replaced, so image and sound quality can be properly analysed in the event of a crime, meaning that it’s more likely to lead to a prosecution. After all, if the picture is unclear, criminals can’t easily be identified.
In addition to this, advances in technology have also made it possible for the cameras to recognise behavioural patterns. Again, this stems from the analysis and implementation of big data. This can help authorities respond to a potential situation before it gets worse. When situations can be prevented, rather than responded to after the fact, it’s better for any city-dwelling resident.
These are just a few examples of how advances in technology and capabilities around analysis can help make urban living better, wherever you happen to be in the world. The fact is, most people won’t move to a city built specifically to be smart, but will live in the places we already know and love. Smart technology is making more liveable cities everywhere, and this marriage of old and new is often where the real technological revolution is taking place.