The traditional concept of city has changed in the last few years because of the quick development of technology and the new lifestyles, which people are demanding. The reality is that cities are the engine of economic growth and for that reason many people are currently moving to big cities in order to find new opportunities and better life conditions. It is expected that almost 70% of the world’s population will live in urban centers by 2050 and that is why cities all around the world are seeking to create more efficient and sustainable ways to operate by providing integrate sensors, buildings, facilities and innovative transportation and infrastructure.
Smart cities use information and communication technologies to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of sources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life. Smart Cities also develop new business models, which satisfy citizens’ new and specific needs; operate urban infrastructure more efficiently and automatically; reduce expenses drastically; improve the city environment by creating more green and leisure spaces and encourage the Internet of Things, that is, the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
Some cities such as Singapore, Barcelona, London, San Francisco or Oslo have already incorporated these technologies and they are considered the world’s smartest cities. Although the most important elements in smart cities are transportation and energy, those cities have experienced improvements in different aspects. Singapore, for instance, has already deployed cameras and sensors to track traffic and check that people do not smoke in unauthorized areas. Barcelona and London have installed smart parking technology as well as sensors for monitoring air quality and noise and wireless routers which are capable of expanding a network of free Wi-Fi in public spaces. San Francisco has focused their efforts in sorting out the traffic problems and it is also a city that highlights due to contactless payment. Oslo, the capital of one of the wealthiest cities in the world, has made strides in using information technology to curb energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
The future is about smart cities and the next few years will be critical for its design and construction. Households, factories and public buildings will generate their own electricity from renewable sources, using the excess space in walls, roofs and windows. These connected devices will store any excess energy in batteries and then they will able to feed the energy grid. Smart homes will also use smart thermostats, which will adapt the heating temperature automatically and save energy. Furthermore, real time traffic data streams, car sharing schemes and mobile parking apps will decrease road traffic, emissions and time wasted. Transport apps will use real time traffic and public transport data to offer citizens the quickest route to their destination.
The cities of future will look very similar in terms of fabric but the way of interacting will be pretty different, artificial intelligence, robots and driverless cars will be part of the day-by-day life.