TECHNOLOGY Part III: Smart Cities

What features make a city smart and what are the benefits for its citizens: a glimpse ….

Managing cities is a complicated business where each action or its absence affects the citizen’s life to considerable length. Many needs and service elements of the residents need continuous watch and supervision. Water supply, transport, law & order, and garbage pickup form part of the principal obligations that influence residents’ life each day. Fire and emergency rescue, tax collection, business licensing, construction permits, streetlight, traffic management, and hosting public events constitute a heavy responsibility. Environment protection is another city obligation that covers parks and recreation, preserving green zones and forest canopy, controlled felling of trees, and horticulture.

Competent managers run these functions with the vigorous help of well-trained field personnel. With their individual budget allocation and essential equipment at their disposition, these teams aim to obtain best results out of their labors. However, in a great number of instances, these divisions operate in silos, without effective concert with others so their collective activities have none of the adverse impacts on others’ outcomes. Sometimes, adjacent cities fall prey to each other’s noblest attempts to alleviate their own difficulties.

Smart cities work on an ‘inclusive’ management style, not ‘excluded.’ They involve their residents in effective decision-making way beyond the norm. Instead of a ‘top-down’ style, they work on a ‘bottom-up’ strategy where majority takes part for collective advancement and productivity. The atmosphere of empowerment helps in numerous ways including, but not restricted to, strong productivity, sophisticated management of assets and higher enjoyment of those involved.

Citizen partnership initiatives constitute a fundamental element of smart city government. Responsibility divides between different parties. It calls for a significant burden off the executive’s shoulders and permits greater utilization of faculties for planning, analysis, and evaluation of progress at more frequent intervals. Better strategy contributes to the excellent outcome at a cheaper price and serves everybody. The obstructive red tape policies thus find their abrupt halt.

Armed with up to the moment information on infrastructure across the metropolitan area, the administrators can better handle difficulties. Unexpected emergencies involving a considerable number of communities or plans meet with efficiency. Questions ranging from population density to road network and from communications to any additional important matter can find support in the embedded sensors. These miniature “IoT”-enabled devices offer Real Time Data for highest performance.

Since the preceding data is constantly in digital form, it becomes measurable with custom-designed analytical tools. This precious information enables the smart city to draw its focus away from the traditional graph of urban transportation framework, to the inhabitants’ demands. Such planning will cover its own involvement alongside the demand for additional forms of shared and private transportation. Data related to traffic density can point towards adding more employment-generating businesses within the municipal boundaries to assist taxpayers to avoid long commutes. Availability of parking spaces for private vehicles at public transit nodes can reduce a number of automobiles on the road during peak periods and cut traffic congestion. The city officials will, therefore, create better connective systems.

Convenience, cost-efficiency and public health are other important aspects that smart cities can better handle than the traditional ones. It allows them motivation to preserve the ecosystem by controlling pollution-generating activities. Sensor-driven data goes a long way in establishing land-use policies, preservation of green belts, forest management, and adding more parks and recreational facilities for its residents. Such actions can reduce fossil fuel use and commit to climate protection at the same time.

Smart City initiatives across the globe are dealing with real Time Data to integrate street lighting with vehicular movement. The municipality of Los Angeles in California took a lead in this regard. They installed Smart Street Lights in association with Philips, the lighting giant, and ‘VodaPhone’, one of the principal participants in Cellular Telephony industry. The sensors so employed by this collaboration control light emission per demand and turn off lights when not obliged.

The energy of light conforms to darkness and tends to reduce greenhouse gas discharge. It provides needed breathing space to birds, animals, wildlife, and insects in those particular sectors. Many more cities are now adopting the same technology.

The focus of smart city projects is to improve the life of their inhabitants in as many forms as practicable. They do it with the aid of data and communication, two of the most powerful gifts of ‘Internet of Things.’ The sensors implanted in the pavement offer an up to the minute picture of traffic conditions, accidents, or vehicle breakdown during peak hours. Relevant notification with alternate route map, displayed on the giant digital screens at different points along the route, helps citizens save time, money, and fuel. A tremendous relief, an indirect one, though, occurs in climate protection as hundreds or even thousands of vehicles are not idling in wait.

Sensors in the city water pipes forewarn the officials of a possible rupture. It saves those involved from potential flooding and resulting hardship plus cost.

Smart cities use advanced tools to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) to coordinate their performance efforts in a practical way. Although the hurdles encountered by various cities around the globe are not consistently similar, yet methodologies used can help. This is where inter-connectivity plays a crucial role. More your adjoining cities cooperate with your own smart city initiatives, better the result you can expect since shared responsibilities can reduce duplication of investment in multiple spheres.

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Please stay tuned for newer material on this, and other interesting technologies that constitute an important element of my in-depth analysis and writing projects!

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