The pace and scale at which intelligent cities are springing up are unprecedented. Demographic shifts and budgetary pressures are making it imperative for cities to embrace smart initiatives in order to efficiently and cost-effectively build vital, attractive cities where citizens, businesses and governments can all thrive.
With 54% of the world population living in urban areas and that number expected to increase by 50% to 6 billion by 2045, essential services offered by the cities are being challenged.
The ability to move citizens from one point to another, for example, is critical to the health and vitality of a city. As cities continue to grow at unprecedented rates, providing efficient, safe, and affordable public transportation is becoming increasingly difficult. Customer demand and supply side systems are often not aligned resulting in overcrowded buses, long wait times, missed connections, and empty seats which just a few of the challenges city government and public transportation planners must address, while contending with diminishing transportation budgets and resources.
Water utilities and governments worldwide are struggling to reduce the high levels of water loss in distribution networks. Yet, reducing water loss can be challenging. Often, utility leaders do not have access to information about the causes and cost of water loss and the pre-emptive steps that can be taken to reduce it. And, because the water wasted does not yield revenue, it is difficult to keep water tariffs at affordable levels.
The effective management of energy is another cornerstone for sustainable urban growth. Improving energy efficiency helps rapidly growing cities achieve greater energy savings, security and citizen safety while reducing costs and energy emissions. Street lights alone, for example, essential to the overall safety and livability of a city, consume as much as 40-50% of a cities entire energy budget. [Source: The Business Case for Smart Street Lights]
Building a sustainable future
Even with these demographic shifts and budgetary constraints, there is good reason to be hopeful about the future. Digital has connected citizens, city leaders and businesses in new ways making it possible for deeper engagement and collaborative involvement in smart city initiatives. New technologies, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) also make it possible to manage, monitor and control precious resources more efficiently and cost effectively.
- Intelligent On/Off switching for targeted street light dimming and efficient management of energy consumption, for example, has been shown to reduce energy costs by up to 35%. [Source: Electricity and maintenance cost savings]
- Another report by the University of California and the Institute for Transportation and Policy Development (ITPD), found that improved public transportation that leads to increased ridership can reduce pollution in urban communities by up to 40%. [Source: Public Transportation Reduces Pollution by 40 Percent: Study]
- Urban analytics software along with data from multiple sources i.e. flow, pressure, and level sensors and SCADA, meter data management systems, water management systems, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), enterprise systems and Leak Detection systems (LDS)make it possible for water utilities and city leaders to generate real-time insights and next step recommendations that enable cities to significantly cut water losses. In fact, according to the World Bank, the total cost of water loss worldwide is US$14 billion per year. Cutting that loss in half would generate US$2.9 billion in cash and serve an additional 90 million people. [Source: Benefits of water loss reduction]
I believe that together with the collaboration of businesses, cities and citizens and the use of emerging technologies, we can build smarter, more livable cities where everyone can thrive.
Are you are interested in learning more about projects already underway and discovering how to fund smart city initiatives? More information about the smart city phenomenon can be found in the recently published e-book, Smart Cities: The Economic and Social Value of Building Intelligent Urban Spaces.