Bright Lights, Smart City

By: Darren Eades

Connecting people, places and things, smart city infrastructure and the IoT to secure an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future

Frost & Sullivan predicts that in two years smart cities will become a $1.5 trillion global market. The business consulting and market research firm identifies eight key factors that characterize smart cities, including smart governance, smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart healthcare and smart citizen.

According to the National League of Cities, 66 percent of U.S. cities surveyed report that they are investing in smart city technology, and 25 percent of those without any smart city systems are exploring future implementations.

Of those cities that have invested in smart city technology, the top applications include:

  • Smart meters for utilities
  • Intelligent traffic signals
  • e-Governance applications
  • Wi-Fi kiosks
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sensors in pavement for monitoring road damage and traffic flow

And the core rationale for smart city development? Major cities around the world are experiencing a massive increase in new inhabitants each year. According to a report by the International Organization for Migration, every week, three million more people move to metropolitan areas. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, the world’s urban population is likely to double and reach 68 percent, up from its present day composition of 55 percent, and adding another 2.5 billion people to its present day level of 4.2 billion.

Today, the most urbanized regions on the planet include North America, with 82 percent of its population living in metro areas in 2018. As the world continues to urbanize, sustainable development depends increasingly on meeting the needs of growing urban populations, including housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure, as well as basic services like education and healthcare.

Enter the smart city

The Eden Strategy Institute, a Singapore-based sustainability consulting firm, recently unveiled its rankings of the Top 50 Smart Cities globally, of which 12 were based in the U.S. Not surprisingly, large metropolises were on the list, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco. But so were Kansas City, Missouri, Columbus, Ohio, and LaGrange, Georgia, with a population of approximately 30,000 people.

But what is it that makes a smart city “smart,” and what infrastructure is needed to make these cities a reality? Let’s explore.

What is a Smart City, Anyway?

Not surprisingly, the definition of a smart city depends on whom one asks. There are relatively broad but engineering-based definitions, such as that of the British Standards Institute (BSI), which defines a smart city as, “The effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future for its citizens.”


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