An Introduction to Smart Cities

An Introduction to Smart Cities

The phrase “smart cities” is powerfully evocative. For some, it evokes a utopian existence that harnesses all the power and promise of modern technology. For others, it’s at best an empty buzzword used to lure in investments from businesses and developers, and at worst, a dystopian surveillance state. In reality, “smart city” initiatives can take many forms, all focused on helping residents overcome challenges and improve quality of life. In this article, we’ll take a look at some successful initiatives from around the world, and make some recommendations for how to support them in your own city.

What makes a city “smart”?

Some of the wariness about the term “smart city” stems from its lack of specificity. In fact, the international Smart City Council admit that “the smart city sector is still in the ‘I know it when I see it’ phase, without a universally agreed definition.”  The IEEE is perhaps a bit more helpful: by their definition, “a Smart city brings together technology, government and society to enable the following characteristics: smart cities, a smart economy, smart mobility, a smart environment, smart people, smart living, smart governance.”

A World of Smart Cities

Some examples of cities pursuing “smart” initiatives around the world include:

  • Singapore. Over the past five years, Singapore could be considered the global standard for smart cities. Its initiatives earned it the top place in the 2017 Global Smart City Performance Index. This study placed Singapore first in each of its four dimensions of smart city development: mobility, health, safety and productivity. For example, Singapore has added connected traffic solutions to its strict policy on car ownership to improve traffic conditions and reduce the number of vehicles within city limits. It also has employed digital service platforms and remote monitoring devices aimed at improving health care for elderly populations. Lastly, it has opened large archives of data to its citizens to facilitate and encourage private innovation.
  • New York. The largest city in the United States has pursued a number of smart initiatives, from predictive modeling to combat violent crime to wifi-driven quality of life improvements. The latter comes in the form of the LinkNYC initiative, which provides free WiFi, device charging stations, free domestic phone calls, and access to directions and city services via streamlined kiosks throughout the city.
  • Dubai. Dubai’s initiatives aim to improve quality of life (in their words, the “Happiness Agenda”) as well as eliminating waste and reducing environmental impact. The United Arab Emirates city aims to make governmental operations entirely paperless by 2021, eliminating over 1 billion pieces of paper every year! They have also introduced a DubaiNow app and portal, which grants access to over 50 government services, including bill paying, visa services, car registration, and more.
  • Milton Keynes, UK. This town (roughly 50 miles northwest of London) shows that smart city initiatives aren’t confined to large, powerful global cities. Its MK:Smart project concluded in 2017, with many resulting services currently deployed. For example, the city used IoT sensors and machine learning to anonymously gather and analyze data to improve transport and traffic management for a rapidly growing population. Like Singapore, the city also established a Citizen Lab to invite residents to contribute to future data-driven smart solutions.

The Power Behind the Intelligence

No matter what sort of initiative your city plans to implement to get smarter, sufficiently high fiber bandwidth is critical. For cities that lack the economic might of Singapore and New York, this can feel daunting due to budget constraints. Champion ONE has many proven solutions to maximize fiber capacity to ensure your city can keep up with the latest innovations and look to the future.

To discuss how these solutions can help your city, contact Champion ONE today.

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