Many different cities have applied smart technology to improve the day-to-day of their citizens, avoid unnecessary costs and foster efficiency in their resource management. In our Smart Cities top 10 we analyze the challenges that many cities around the world have overcome by using technology to address their specific problems.
Home to more startups and programmers than almost any other city in the world, London has consistently performed well in the annual index, holding the top spot since 2017.
With a similar in size to New York, London has established 5 missions for the implementation of a Smart City plan: services designed for users, generating and analyzing large-scale Big Data, achieve real connectivity, improving the digital skills of the population and encouraging the collaboration between citizens and institutions.
Deploying the power of data
Various initiatives have been implemented, such as the London Development Database (LDD), a collaborative project for the management of construction permits and its different stages in real time, which can be accessed by any citizen via web.
Other initiatives have reached out to a diverse population, teaching them digital skills related to the handling of technologies such as tablets. In addition, smart electricity meters have been implemented, applying the power of data to generate more sustainable cities.
In addition, London also stands out, in terms of transport, thanks to the creation of the Heathrow Pods, driverless vehicles that interconnect the city with the airport.
2. New York
The Big Apple is home to over 8.5 million people. In this urban center, traffic, rush hour commuting and a more egalitarian supply and social system were some of the challenges that needed to be overcome. The city, which contains some of the leading technology companies in the world, is among the top 10 Smart Cities due to its relentless smart technology advancements.
Some proposed solutions in NYC
The LinkNYC network was implemented to foster more egalitarian access to technology, which replaces phone booths with fast, free Wi-Fi access points to learn about the city services. Regarding traffic, the city implemented the Midtown in Motion program to manage downtown rush hours. Using speed sensors and a data centre managed by urban traffic engineers, they have managed to improve commuting times by 10%.
The water supply has also benefited from smart processes through the generation of systems that centralize home consumption data, while allowing users to know their readings in real time, as well as pay their bills online.
Paris is, together with London, one of the financial capitals of Europe, and it is also one of the most-visited cities by tourists from across the globe. As a result, turning it into a Smart City has the potential of improving many aspects of the city.
Its ambitious research and development project ‘2050 Paris Smart City’ aims to integrate high-rise buildings and energy power, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%. In fact, the architect Vincent Callebaut has presented a project to the Paris City Council, in which he shows what the capital would be like in 30 years if it integrated ecological buildings into the urban core, thus reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.
Spotlight on transportation
Paris has fostered the development of an IoT infrastructure aimed at optimizing the transportation and flow of people. Furthermore, it has planned a complete restructuring of the transportation system through Grand Paris Express, which, among its initiatives, will include a 100% automated subway thanks to Big Data.
Among the cities with the highest population density, its transformation into a Smart City vital to generate a more effective space – which is also bolstered by the 2020 Olympics.
Energy sustainability in the sights
The capital of Japan intends to install effective and sustainable systems that coordinate different sources of renewable energies for users. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) plans to install 27 million smart meters by 2025, in an effort that includes the entire city. This will also allow for the prevention of supply problems in case of natural disasters.
In addition, Tokyo’s smart city concept has shifted in recent years towards the social dimension with initiatives that seek to address issues such as the country’s aging population.
The citizens of the Icelandic capital are not particularly numerous (around 120,000) and, nevertheless, they have wanted to apply a plan for Smart City to access all its advantages and bet on a climate policy action plan that seeks to have eliminated all the carbon emissions by 2040.
In this way, despite being a fairly small city, thanks to its strong commitment to protecting the environment and advances in mobility, it manages to reach the top positions in the global ranking of smart cities.
The initiatives for a sustainable capital
Worth noting are its energy-related proposals in a country with a vast potential for the use of renewable energies, such as geothermal energy. Indeed, through the implementation of sustainable initiatives, the entire country has successfully managed to source 70% of its consumption from renewable energies – a number that is much higher than anywhere else in the world.
There are also digital citizen engagement initiatives, such as Better Reykjavík, an online forum where citizens submit their ideas to improve the services of the capital city.
The capital of Denmark, with a little over 600,000 inhabitants, set itself up to act as a test lab where the implementation of smart processes leads to a more habitable and sustainable city. In fact, in 2017 the Copenhagen Solutions Lab received an award for its system that controls air quality, energy consumption and waste management.
Their Smart City plan
In 2016, Copenhagen announced that it would become the first city in the world to implement a Big Data system to manage public and private information. The main goal is to generate a zero-emissions city within the next few years, though this data centre is also used for business innovation and more efficient management.
Between 2015 and 2019, the city developed an environment in the capital city known as EnergyLab to demonstrate, in the neighborhood of Nordhavn, how electricity, heating and sustainable transportation can be integrated into an optimized system.
Berlin is the best-placed German city in the ranking, ranked number 7. Its best results are in mobility and transport, human capital and international projection. On the contrary, the areas with the greatest room for improvement are the economy and the environment.
The goal of the Smart City in Berlin
The German city puts the focus of the project on residential homes. Within the intelligent solutions in terms of Smart City, the Smart City project, Future Living® Berlin, stands out. This program seeks a combination of an ecological and sustainable life, driven by a digital and connected life.
Amsterdam has its own idiosyncrasy in many aspects. It is included among the top 10 Smart Cities due to its novel way to address problems.
Advancing toward a sustainable Smart City
Since 2004, Amsterdam has been in contact with a Chief Technology Official who has implemented several initiatives. Among the most expected we can find the generation of an automated bicycle sharing system.
In addition, an iterative way of working has been highly valued, testing projects as a prototype to then add improvements, as is the case of garbage collection in the city, or the payment of parking spaces by phone instead of parking meters.
A novelty, they implemented the Beautiful Noise project to listen to the needs of the citizenry and the massive number of tourists that visit the city each year. This system analyzes the photos and comments posted on social networks to know the status of some places and services in real time.
Singapore is one of the most technological cities in the world and is included among the top 10 Smart Cities due to its great strides in this regard.
Smart technology in Singapore
Singapore has positioned itself at the forefront of a vast number of amazing innovations. It has developed the first Smart Hospital, where part of its staff is composed of robots and it leverages the potential of Big Data in healthcare. Starting in 2019, the first driverless taxis have appeared as a pilot project.
In addition, they have developed Virtual Singapore as a Digital Twin – a virtual model of the city updated in real time that enables the detection of trends and testing solutions to various challenges.
With an increasingly aging population, the government is focusing on digital technologies and initiatives to increase productivity and boost the country’s economy. Smart technologies are already integrated into all homes in this city, and by 2022, the government’s plan is to have low-energy lighting on all public roads and solar panels on the roofs of at least 6,000 buildings.
Recently, the city of Dubai has launched a seven-year plan to digitally transform all government services in the city. This plan includes communication systems, transportation, urban planning, etc.
A safer city
Through its DubaiNow application, Artificial Intelligence is put at the service of citizens, digitizing services and making them accessible to all.
In addition, Dubai is betting on improving the city’s transport. Thanks to AI, there has been a significant reduction in traffic accidents related to fatigue.
The automation of services has also been used to improve the security of the city, opening up to three completely autonomous police stations.
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