By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in “megacities”. London, New-York and other large cities spend $ 39 billion on water and energy resources. City buildings consume 50% of electricity supplies and leave a disastrous carbon footprint. Urbanization is a bigger threat to humans than nuclear power. Investing in Smart City technologies and solutions is a real step towards a greener and cleaner world. And here’s why.
What is a Smart City?
In a world of cell phones, fitness trackers, voice-powered digital assistants and supercomputers that can easily beat a chess champion, you can use the word “smart” to describe anything (including the city you live in).
The Smart City “official” concept was developed by IBM in 2008. Back then, the world was dealing with the consequences of the biggest economic crisis since World War II. Governments finally realized we could no longer maintain the old-fashioned water systems and splurge on waste disposal (Britain, for example, spends 30% of council tax revenue on garbage collection & utilization). And that’s when the Internet of Things came to prominence.
Kevin Ashton, a British engineer who created a standard system for Radio-friendly Identification (RFID) and other smart sensors, coined the IoT term in 1999. However, there was no urgent need to create an environment where smart gadgets would talk to each other and exchange data over a network. The global financial challenges forced US, China, South Korea and other leading countries to heavily invest in Smart City solutions (in less than four years the market will be worth $ 400 billion).
How does a Smart City work?
IoT gadgets have sensors and limited computing resources. They gather information about the outside world and transfer it somewhere (to a smartphone, other device or cloud server). A great share of this data is actually going nowhere – and that’s why the whole IoT concept is widely criticized by IT experts. But even the little amount of sensor readings we manage to process can significantly improve the quality of our lives.
A Smart City system consists of multiple information and communication technology (ICM) solutions. The infrastructure automatically adjusts to data input and makes the best of the available resources. Governments can use Smart City technologies, tools and solutions to improve a wide range of services.
Smart City applications & challenges