IoT Blog

smart cities

12 Aug 2016

General

The smart cities of the future

You have probably heard it before: urbanization continues and it is on the rise. It is often said that this means our cities have to get smarter. But what does it mean when a city is smart and how smart can it become?

In a supplement to The Times, produced by the media house Raconteur, there is a chart that divides the smart city into six areas:

  • Smart economy
  • Smart people
  • Smart environment
  • Smart control
  • Smart living
  • Smart transportation

Each area can in turn be divided into sub-areas. For example, transportation could include cooperation between modes of transportation and communication (which we have written about here), the environmental area could include energy-smart buildings, and so on. It is worth noting here that two Swedish cities are on the list of the world’s smartest cities: Eskilstuna is seen as smartest in the category of “people” and our own hometown Umeå as the smartest in environment.

At the same time, it’s easy to see that smart cities have just begun to form and new ideas pop up all the time. In Palo Alto, California the traffic lights are connected to each other and controlled to reduce congestion and traffic jams as much as possible. They have a connected information system for this where ordinary road users can see the traffic situation in real time via the web. Much like Waze, but without any need to use the app.

There are many more such examples. The limit on how smart cities can be, and how fast they can get there, is not a lack of ideas but the one thing we have also written about before: to get the maximum benefit from connected systems, the systems must work together. Residents, businesses and public stakeholders must share their data and let each other – and others – build on it.

With Palo Alto as an example, this could mean that a travel planning app not only takes into account the traffic lights and the amount of cars, but also the flow of buses and trains, location of bike paths, the weather and your fitness tracker. It also gives tips on the best route and means of transport based on speed, environmental friendliness, scenic beauty or calories. At least that’s our vision.