The policy implications of smart cities are wide—politics has a job now to catch up and stay aheadby Seema Malhotra / May 14, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
The majority of the world’s seven billion inhabitants are city dwellers, and it is estimated that over 70 per cent of the global population will be living in cities by 2050. In Britain, all of our major cities are growing.
But a recent OECD conference in Westminster highlighted the stubborn challenges still faced by cities: traffic congestion, poor air quality, low incomes, high housing costs, waste production and issues of community cohesion and loneliness. How can “smart cities” help with all this?
The idea is to integrate connected technology and communication services with the operation of the city’s infrastructure for the benefit of both public and private services. Add to this the power of big data and the increasing number of objects and appliances that are connected, and you begin to see the potential for changing the way a city is run. Everything, from public transport to the water supply could benefit from this.
Barcelona has been especially good at adopting new innovations. Take the new sensors which have reduced the amount of water used by city parks. There is also an app for drivers that displays real-time information on parking spots. Street lamps are fitted with motion sensors which dim the lights when there is no activity. These simple, elegant ideas have reduced resource consumption, increased quality of life and created new jobs.