Sustainability of Smart Cities

A smart city is the one which uses modern technologies to enhance performance of urban services and overall quality of life of the citizens. Such city efficiently uses digital and communication technologies towards effective use of available resources. Further, it reduces costs of various services, and effectively connects with the people residing therein. Some of such services which can be improved through technology include; water, transportation, energy, waste and healthcare.

A smart city should have following characteristics:

smart city characteristics

  • The people residing therein should be made aware about smart ways of living
  • It should have zero water footprint by using the triple bottom line of possible reduce, recycle and reuse of water
  • The city should conserve the locally significant features such as biodiversity and heritage of the city
  • It should minimize citizen consumption
  • The city should promote green technologies, renewable energy, efficient building designs, green transportation, sustainable energy systems, and a overall green living
  • It should anticipate future load on infrastructure and flexible to long-term changes
  • It should have a very high degree of community participation

In the coming sections above characteristics will be discussed through sections such as digital and communication technologies, urban infrastructure and services, citizen’s engagement, and lastly sustainability of such smart city.

First and foremost, citizens of these cities will need to be willing to support large-scale projects, particularly when it comes to transforming the area so that it’s smarter and more efficient. For example, technologies can even make possible self-production of energy and customization of its usages and consumption. Such possibilities should be made known to the citizens in this context.

A sustainable smart city should make use of digital and communication technologies to improve the quality of life along with efficiency of urban operations and services.  It should further ensure that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social and environmental aspects.

Digital & Communication Technology

In light of the fact that an estimated 70 % of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, sustainable urbanization has become a key policy point to administrations across the world. Technology has a crucial role to play by increasing environmental efficiency across industry sectors and enabling such innovations as internet of things, intelligent transport systems, use of green technologies, promoting green infrastructure, an augmented share of renewable energy and lastly smart resources management and a smarter waste management.

Urban Infrastructure

Another big trend that would aid sustainability would be ‘internet of things’; a more efficient and miniaturized sensors and networks that interconnect all objects to one another.  It is through interconnecting buildings, factories, vehicles, power generation plants, lighting, that cities will be smarter. There are already certain examples wherein use of technology can change the way we use energy like temperature and air quality sensors, variable speed drives and robots, smart meters and intensity and color controlled LED lighting. Further, big data would make a huge impact. In case of technology enabled cities, consider an example of traffic streamlining. By knowing where all of its citizens are at a given time, and where traffic is the heaviest, it can direct others appropriately and even take them out of congestion to a lighter traffic road, albeit, stop them from creating a traffic jam itself. This would not only improve travel times, but also keep a large majority of people safer, avoiding unnecessary accidents.

Moving on, in a smart city one should experience accident risk warnings, home monitoring from remote places, real-time information on traffic flow, notify residents about available parking, reduce emissions, weather alerts, emergency waiting times for various services etc. There would be other possibilities like open rooftops being transformed into solar inputs, buildings being used as rainwater collectors and further distribution centers, even individual efforts like changing the way one wash dishes, responsible use of electricity, using a greener kitchen and adopting a smarter and efficient way of living.

The urban revolution is already at work and further innovation will drive advances in technology, expansion of the internet of things and the empowerment of consumers, all of which will result in smarter and more sustainable cities.