Currently, over half of the world’s population lives in cities, with this figure expected to rise to 70% by 2050. In order to accommodate these ever-increasing numbers, cities need to adapt, becoming more progressive and sustainable in order to provide residents with a high quality of life. In order to do this, cities all over the world are adopting smart city models, utilizing technology for a much better infrastructure and a much cleaner environment.
Address Specific Problems
When building a smart city, it is always a good idea to take a look at the current problems that need fixing, whether this is traffic congestion, food security, environmental issues or weak transport links. By tackling issues that directly affect the lives of a city’s residents, the technology used will help to improve society in general.
Open data refers to information that is freely available for people to access, use and share at any time, bringing a sense of empowerment to residents. People want to be able to have control over their lives, and open data helps with this, and can be anything from being able to check bus schedules in real time to finding a free parking space during rush hour to monitoring energy supplies.
Food security is a huge concern in regards to the world’s growing population, which is why most smart city models incorporate vertical farming techniques into their designs. From Singapore to New York, cities all over the world are investing in vertical farms, and thanks to technology, the costs of doing so are lower than ever. The software used enables farmers to tend to their crops remotely, whether this is increasing the amounts of water their plants are receiving to adjusting the nutrients in the soil, meaning that several farms can be handled by a single farmer.
Sustainable features incorporated within new architecture designs have now become the norm, but smart cities are ones that take this even further, developing eco-buildings that do not leave a mark on the environment. The Bullitt Center in Seattle is considered to be the greenest building in the world, and, with its composting toilets, rainwater harvesting, and other sustainable features, uses zero energy and water while putting out absolutely no waste. Other fantastic examples of eco-buildings include the Highland Street townhouses in Boston, that have ultra-thick walls designed to maximize sunlight in order to reduce energy consumption during the city’s cold winters, and the Shanghai Tower in China, which features wind turbines on the roof, smart controls and transparent “skins” that allow natural light to enter.
There is no ignoring the increasing pressure that cities all over the world are facing when it comes to their growing populations, which is why the need for smart cities is more important now than it ever has been. Fortunately, smart solutions are being utilized more and more, from the larger urban sprawls to the smaller, more isolated, cities, and the world is finally beginning to realize the importance of working with, rather than against, nature and the environment.