August 11, 2016Michael Sutherland-Shaw
As humans continue to get smarter, so do their cities. Or at least that’s the hope.
With an emergence of digital technology, the Internet and mobile technologies, the transformation from “traditional cities” to Smart Cities is becoming more viable each passing day.
But what defines a Smart City?
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) defines it as, “a smart and sustainable city is an innovative city that uses Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and other means to improve quality of life.”
Sounds good to me. Especially with the number of people living in cities continuing to rise.
A report form United Nations (UN) states, more than half of the world’s population (54.6% or 3.6 billion people) live in cities, with that number expected to rise to 70% by 2050.
So now that we know the what, the real question is, how does one create a Smart City?
If you ask the folks in Copenhagen, Denmark, becoming carbon neutral is at the top of the list.
In a recent post by FreeBalance project manager, Liza Benkovitch looked at how Copenhagen aspires to be the first carbon neutral capital by 2025. The municipal government has already implemented LED lighting systems serving as the backbone of network capabilities and telecom communications. LED lights are used for energy conservation and as a sensor mechanism to collect data on traffic, road patterns, emergency situations, and more. It’s anticipated more than 10,000 “intelligent LED lights” will be installed in Copenhagen to reduce energy costs by 70% and decrease carbon emissions.
According to the IDB, a Smart City puts people at the centre of development, incorporates technology and communication in urban management, and uses these elements as tools to stimulate the creation of an efficient government that includes processes of collaborative planning and citizen participation.
“By promoting an integrated and sustainable development, cities will transform into innovative, competitive, attractive and competitive places,” said Mauricio Bouskela, IDB Housing and Urban Development Senior Specialist.
This comes as the IDB, a leader in economic, social and institutional projects in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), have watched as cities throughout the region accelerate growth without a plan for sustainability.
The IDB discovered there is a clear lack of information in LAC about Smart Cities. To solve this, a group of journalists and specialists within the bank published a guide to build from, “The Road Towards Smart Cities: Migrating from Traditional City Management to the Smart City.”
The guide offers more than 50 examples of cities – Buenos Aires (Argentina), Bogota y Medellin (Colombia), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Chihuahua (Mexico) and Nassau (Bahamas) – implementing solutions ranging from the integration of emergency systems, public transportation, risk management, to wireless broadband Internet coverage.
These solutions can now act as a roadmap for other cities looking to adopt a smarter and more sustainable model of growth.