Strategizing Smart Cities for Smart Economy

How often do you use a smart device at your home? Indeed several times, knowingly or unknowingly. Be it a smartphone, wearable, personal electronics, smart bulbs, or tablets, these devices have become an integral part of our lives. Our homes now have multiple smart devices that are considered “intelligent devices.” However,  the trend for smart spaces or cities extends far beyond our homes.

We live in a time of urban transition. Increasingly people are flocking to cities, and cities are evolving rapidly. The UN predicts that 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. Accommodating more people is not only a challenge but these cities are trying to work with “quality of life and sustainability,” which are the key issues everywhere. Smart city initiatives can address these issues.

What smart city looks like?

A smart city concept focuses on utilizing technology to effectively manage the city’s assets and resources to improve the quality of services, and hopefully, life for its residents.

The technology comprises six building blocks. It encompasses what is termed, smart people,  smart city economy, smart mobility,  smart environment.

It also includes — smart living and smart governance — that together can contribute to the realization of smart city strategy by augmenting social inclusion, technological inclusion, economic development, and environmental sustainability to drive the smart economy.

Smart People

Smart people being at the heart and the fundamental block of the smart city system requires attributes like professional excellence, high Human Development Index, integrated education system, attracts knowledge workers, inhabitants opts for e-learning models, embraces technological changes, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and contributes towards making the city more liveable.

Smart city residents have to be more involved. But how is that possible? Thanks to technology.   Let’s look at the example, wherein citizens can utilize apps that allow them to report local issues more easily or community networking platforms that allow neighbors to connect and share resources.

This is just one, there are several ways in which technology can help. Therefore, developing a center for learning new technologies, and encouraging investments in technology are essential.

Smart City Economy

An ideal smart city economy has a very long list of attributes; however, in a nutshell, the city should be well versed with its economic DNA and work closely towards enlightening entrepreneurship, investments, tourism, human resource, natural resource, and innovation.

A dedicated innovation center, eCommerce, and business center are what facilitates a smart city economy. The idea of Technopolis can accelerate the economic development of the city and ultimately the nation.

Smart Mobility

Mobility here not only should be focused on vehicles but the human aspect. Traffic being the bane of many a city-dweller’s life, technology can offer some promising sustainable transportation solutions.

Example-public transport routes can be adjusted to demand in real-time, intelligent traffic light systems to improve congestion, traffic management, public transportation apps, intelligent bus stops, vehicle sharing apps, parking sensors, etc.

Robust ICT, Logistics, and public transport powered by technology can solve traffic woes and keep it flowing.

Smart Environment

The smart environment is another crucial block of the smart city system. Here the aim is to preserve the ecological and environmental system with the help of network & environmental monitoring and energy efficiency.

Here, too, technology has a critical role to play. Providing environmental information and alerts, monitoring distribution networks, and using sensors in containers.

It is also making use of apps to identify accidents, using electric vehicles, intelligent lighting, smart grids, and numerous other technological solutions that can drive the efficiency and results that a smart city aims for all.

Smart Living

What contributes to smart living? Aesthetic daily life in the city. However, achieving this is not easy. One has to focus on health and safety along with technological accessibility.

Everything revolves around technology so how would smart living not?

Telehealth, video surveillance, Wi-fi, optical fiber, appointment booking apps, etc., portray the bigger picture of urban liveability and resiliency.

A smart city living should have vibrant downtown around the clock and provide convenience, rapid mobility, and connectivity along with social cohesion

Smart Governance

Smart governance is the final building block and the necessity of a smart city. An ideal smart city is one that practices ART (accountability, responsiveness, and transparency) in its governance.

E-municipality, social networks of city councils, GIS, smart justice, and other smart systems can drive ART.

Also, other technological solutions like Web portals, online forums, mobile apps, and unified services can help residents share their questions, suggestions, and grievances with the government.

A government can adopt any of the four models G2C (Government to Citizen), G2G (Government to Government), G2B (Government to Business),  or G2E (Government to Employee) to achieve this.

Key Challenges faced in developing smart cities

  • Funding
  • Lack of interest
  • Illiteracy

Funding is a critical issue need to be addressed to remove the roadblocks in successful smart city initiatives. A regulatory framework of the country here plays an important role in addressing the challenges of funding.

The city government can seek central grants, subsidies, national investment, and infrastructure funds from the government. On the other hand, it can opt for direct financing by issuing shares or other long-term sources of finances.

The financial can opt for indirect financing, municipal bonds, equity market instruments, mezzanine financing or Real Estate Investment Trust along with exploring the options of international modes of finance.

Here, another issue, i.e., lack of interest can create hurdles and the lack of interest may come from lack of E-illiteracy.

What makes smart cities successful?

  1. Ubiquitous wireless connectivity: The quality and reliability of connectivity become imperative to the smart city. High-bandwidth, low-latency, future-proof networks are essential to support the unprecedented degree of interconnectivity and convergence. The fiber-optic cable also is an ideal option to accommodate today’s smart city applications as well as future technologies.
  2. Open data: Whether you’re talking on the phone, driving your car, or simply tracking your workouts with wearable technology, data is generated. But have you wondered what happens with that information? Much of it is used to advance products or develop new algorithms. But how smart city can gain from open data? It helps in gaining insights into the lives of residents, fix their issues, and help build more equitable, and inclusive services.
  3. Trustable Security: The cost of security failure is huge. Unsecure devices, gateways, and networks are fertile ground for hackers interested in causing city-wide disruption and possible system control. A collaborative undertaking involving partners like sensor and actuator manufacturers, gateway providers, standards boards & even operating system developers will ensure authenticated, authorized, and encrypted communication
  4. Flexible monetization schemes: Smart cities should possess the capability to offer flexible pricing models—and ultimately generate profitable revenues. So where can this be applied? Bridge and highway tolls, recycling and waste loyalty points, subscription for parking for consumers and commercial fleets, subscription to city-based wifi access, and Elearning materials can be some of the options.

Smart City Trends

  • IoTCities that recognize the importance of infrastructure being connected with IoT and put the same in place middleware and cloud systems can capture and use it to see significant advantages over time.
  • 5G is known for its speed and connectivity, smart cities can reap its benefits.
  • Data Analytics is another trend that allows smart system initiatives to identify potential problems, zero in the opportunities, and get
  • Blockchain is beyond cryptocurrency and can be utilized by smart cities in ensuring safety and security in its different initiatives.
  • Automation: The low-hanging fruit in the AI segment too can increase the value of the workforce and make companies smarter.

Final Thoughts

One report by McKinsey Global Institute found smart city technology can improve key quality of life indicators – such as the daily commute, health issues, or crime incidents – by 10 to 30 percent.

Creating a network of objects that are capable of smart interactions can open the doors to a wide range of innovations. IoT has some of the answers while the majority of them rests on the people factor.

Deciphering how each building block is intertwined with the other and its sensitivity in planning and implementation stages along with embracing technology can realize the dreams of a smart city and contribute towards a smart economy.

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