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What is a Smart City?

Posted by Louise Merifield on 14-Apr-2016 09:00:00

This basic guide to smart cities gives an introduction to one of today's hot topics.

Why is everyone talking about smart cities?

It is estimated that the world’s population will grow to nine billion by 2043 and ten billion by 2083.

This population growth is likely to produce the biggest strain on urban areas, with 11% of the global population currently living in the world’s 101 larger cities - a figure which is expected to rise to 23% by the end of the century. City governers and industry leaders have to find ways to deal with this huge expansion.

At the same time, the latest technological advances give us access to solutions and services which were previously unimaginable. Look at how the internet and smart phone have changed the way you live. To address the key challenges of population expansion and rapid urbanisation, cities are exploring these technological advancements, to find ways to increase efficiency and help tackle the issues that come with an increased population.

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What is a smart city?

The term ‘smart city’ describes the use of digital and communication technologies implemented in an urban environment, to improve the lives of citizens and the city’s services. A city can reduce costs and resource consumption by enhancing the capabilities of a city’s connectivity. For example, smart sensors can monitor pollution levels and intelligent lighting turns off when no-one is nearby.

Smart Uses of Smart Cities

Barcelona is an excellent example of such initiatives and has implemented an eAdministration scheme to simplify the public’s interaction with government procedures. Eight other Spanish cities have managed to cut energy consumption by introducing efficient street lighting systems. Industry is also contributing by improving its products and services. And this is just the beginning as there are many advantages for emergency services, security and the health care industry.

What about data security?

The only known and proven IT technology able to deliver the full Smart City package is the cloud. The cloud, however, raises concerns about data confidentiality and security. Is the town hall protecting my privacy? Can other organisations access or demand to see my data?  At the same time, the public expects to have open access to its data and it's crucial for city strike the right balance regarding data protection and privacy enforcement. Leaders have to strike the right balance between data protection, privacy enforcement and open data. In addition, services can be at risk if critical infrastructures, such as water and electricity, are not adequately protected. 

Bringing it all together

A sucessful smart city consists of several building blocks, such as private and public cloud resources, critical infrastructure protection and of course sound governance. If you would like to read more about Smart Cities and how cloud plays a part, take a look at this eGuide. 

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SixSq has been working hard to develop the foundation building blocks that will help smart city architects and decision makers improve their cities, so don't hesitate to get in touch with us to tell us about the challenges you are facing.

Topics: Smart Cities