on February 5th, 2021

By the year 2050, up to 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities. Accounting for expected population growth, that means another 2.5 billion people will reside in urban settings.

To effectively manage the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – we must remain one step ahead of this rapid expansion, which, if unmanaged, could drain our urban environment’s resources. Governments and the wider population must be agile enough to quickly implement initiatives: engineers of all disciplines will play a key role, and smart-city technology will be essential to maintaining urban sustainability, making the places we call home more efficient.

Using the latest defining characteristics of smart cities, Professor Kalam will explain the importance and impact they have on the modern world, outlining the challenges the engineering sector must overcome, as well as the potential strategies for success.

To bring you up to speed for this much anticipated webinar, here is some key information about smart cities, and the areas governments are currently focusing on to evolve urban living.

What is a smart city?

The term ‘smart city’ is used to describe a framework of urban data, and the technology used to share and communicate that data. A city can be described as smart when data is used to advance, organize, and promote sustainable practices that can tackle issues in modern urban environments. With significant advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), cities across the globe are getting smarter with each passing year.

A major part of the smart city framework is a network of connected objects and technologies that wirelessly communicate data for storage in a virtual cloud. Cloud-based applications then analyse this data in real time to make decisions that improve quality of life for citizens and protect the natural environment.

The people who live in or frequent smart cities contribute to data collection through devices such as smart phones, cars and electronic devices in their homes and workplaces.

What are the key benefits of a smart city?

The smart city is a rapidly evolving concept, with more benefits being realized as each new city that sets out to become smart. Some of the key initiatives currently proving successful include:

  • robust information technology infrastructure and maximized connectivity;
  • more effective and democratic governance, with increased citizen participation;
  • more effective sustainability within the built environment;
  • increased safety and security, particularly for women, children and the elderly;
  • improvements to health and education services;
  • measuring and facilitating water and electricity supplies;
  • appropriate sanitation and waste management;
  • more efficient public transport systems; and
  • affordable housing with higher levels of urban sustainability.

Which cities can be considered smart?

Los Angeles became the first city to implement an urban big data project as far back as 1974, with the launch of a report entitled ‘A Cluster Analysis of Los Angeles’. However, what many consider to be the first truly smart city didn’t emerge until twenty years later – at Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the government created a virtual ‘digital city’ (De Digital Stad), primarily set up to promote internet usage among its citizens.

Since the 1990s, dozens of cities worldwide have laid claim to being smart. The most regularly cited examples include: Barcelona; Columbus, Ohio; Copenhagen; Dubai; Dublin; Kyiv; London; Madrid; Manchester; Milan; Milton Keynes; Moscow; New York; Santa Cruz; Santander; Shanghai; Singapore; Stockholm and Taipei.

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