For the last couple of years, the concept of planning and building smart cities has been gaining more attention. Even though the definition of what a smart city is might vary greatly, it seems to be the ultimate urban development goal. However, the term has been associated with the implementation of accessible technology that will improve the nature of existing cities.
In order to achieve the successful design of smart cities, such projects should incorporate more than just technology. Smart cities must involve sustainable architecture and smart engineering so that urban ecosystems and inhabitants can benefit from them. Yet, we need to discuss what exactly smart cities are, their importance, and how to plan them successfully.
What Are Smart Cities?
As we mentioned before, the concept of a smart city can have different definitions, depending on who we ask. Nevertheless, the characteristics that we tend to associate to them include an optimized connection of individuals to their surroundings. Simply put, a smart city would be an urban area on which several systems would collect data and optimize services and operations. Such a connection would greatly depend on the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as the efficient implementation of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Why Are Smart Cities So Important?
The main goal behind smart cities initiatives relies on improving the quality of life of citizens while increasing the efficiency of systems and organizations accordingly. Therefore, a smart city would have to, ideally, benefit its inhabitants and solve existing and potential problems altogether.
A successful smart city project would bring several benefits, at least in theory. Some of them include creating safer communities, reducing its environmental footprint, improving transportation, increasing digital equity, providing more economic opportunities, developing efficient public utilities, among others. This is why becoming smart has become the main objective of several cities and urban areas around the world.
How Can We Plan and Develop Smart Cities Successfully?
Even when there is no blueprint or error-free guide to follow and build a smart city, there are several steps to take when turning this type of projects to reality. To begin with, a smart city project should solve the problems that affect their communities the most. The next steps would be finding a leader from the public sector and creating a universal vision. This way, a smart city will carry a common goal, one that resonates with every sector of society.
Understanding the potential benefits and risks of a particular city becoming smart is essential, too. This is because such a concept is, still, an early version of what it can become. Therefore, firms and governments should proceed with caution and remain critical and analytical of every step they take. Last but not least, educating the citizens of smart cities is crucial. They should know how to use the technology available so they can apply that knowledge and benefit from it. Otherwise, smart cities would become nothing more than a marketing tool that companies will use, without solving any problem nor benefiting people either.