Smart cities use and apply data collected through information and communications technology or ICT to adjust, manage and improve urban life. ICT includes components and infrastructure as well as the application of such components. The infrastructure of ICT is limitless and collects data through the Internet of Things or IoT, Artificial Intelligence or AI, robots, computers, tablets, smart phones, digital TV’s, cameras, smart meters, sensors, and all other devices that collect and transmit data. [See, eg. “How the Internet of Things or IoT is Monitoring Construction Activities”, posted, 6/14.23]. The development and implementation of 5G technology (2x faster than 4G) will further enhance the collection and transmission of data with faster speeds and higher connection densities. Given the massive volume of data collected from this infrastructure, the potential power of ICT is enormous. However, so are the dangers, given that ICT uses AI and typically has unfettered access to the applications residing on such infrastructure.
At this point in development, the greatest impact that ICT has upon smart cities, relates to public infrastructure and the delivery of services. And the best way to describe its impact upon public infrastructure is to provide real-life examples of how ICT is managing and improving urban life.
- Utilities. Smart meters collect and convey data regarding the usage of water, sewage, natural gas, and the internet allowing providers to adjust supply and flow.
- Transportation. Sensors and smart cameras capture and convey data used for traffic management to adjust stop lights on a real-time basis to reflect actual traffic patterns and promote efficiency.
- Power Grids. Smart meters coupled with improved batteries allow users to store electricity during off-peak hours avoiding waste and reducing stress on the power grid during peak hours.
- Waste Management. Sensors in dumpsters and cans collect and convey data allowing the adjustment of waste pickup routes and locations.
- Air Quality. Sensors collect and monitor both data regarding both outdoor and indoor air quality and allowing for the adjustment of activities and behavior.
- Public Safety. Smart cameras capture and convey images of activity in public places deterring crime and assisting in the resolution of criminal activity and traffic incidents.
Of course, all of the infrastructure required to support ICT, including smart cameras, smart meters, sensors, and other devices that collect and transmit data will require installation by contractors involved with both public and private projects.
The first smart city was developed in 2014 in South Korea, in its capital city of Seoul. More than 50 countries have since begun investing in the concept of smart cities, through either design or construction. Depending upon which poll is viewed, the top smart cities include Shanghai, New York, Toronto, Seoul, Singapore, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Dubai, Nice, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. Given that it is predicted that 68% of the world’s population will reside in cities and urban areas no later than 2050, the development of smart cities will most certainly be on the rise.
The City of Atlanta recently joined the smart city craze. Atlanta intends to focus its smart city efforts on 5 core pillars: multi-mode transport, public safety, the environment, city operations efficiency, and citizen/business engagement. Atlanta's strategy is to leverage data to make better-informed decisions that impact residents, visitors, and businesses. By utilizing a data-centric ICT model, Atlanta hopes to use descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive data to radically improve city operational efficiency, service delivery, and transparency.