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What is a Smart City? All You Need to Know About it

Author
Blox Social
Posted on
Jul 25, 2023
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The term ‘smart city’ has become a buzzword in infrastructural development over the last few years – and for good reason. With smart technology and sustainability becoming increasingly pivotal in our personal lives, the time has come to step up from just having smartphones and smart homes to living in wholly-equipped ‘smart cities’. 

So, what are smart cities, exactly? 

A smart city is a city that uses technology to enhance the quality of life, efficiency of services, and sustainability of the environment. A smart city is not just about installing sensors, cameras, and networks, but also about using data and analytics to make informed decisions and solve urban challenges. According to the IMD Smart City Index 2023, there are 141 cities across the world that can claim to be at various stages of smart city development. The index features four Indian cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.

Let us dive deeper into the world of smart cities. 

Advantages of a Smart City

Some of the benefits of a smart city are:

  • Improved mobility and transportation: A smart city can optimise traffic flows, reduce congestion, and provide multimodal options for commuters. For example, a smart city can use real-time data to adjust traffic signals, manage parking spaces, and offer dynamic pricing for public transit.
  • Enhanced public safety and security: A smart city can leverage video surveillance, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence to prevent and respond to crimes, accidents, and emergencies. For example, a smart city can use smart cameras to detect suspicious activities, alert authorities, and activate emergency services.
  • Increased energy efficiency and environmental protection: A smart city can monitor and control energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote renewable sources. For example, a smart city can use smart metres to track and optimise energy usage, deploy smart grids to balance supply and demand, and encourage electric vehicles and charging stations.
  • Better health and well-being: A smart city can improve the health and well-being of its citizens by providing access to quality healthcare, education, and social services. For example, a smart city can use telemedicine to deliver remote consultations, diagnosis, and treatment, use e-learning to offer personalised and interactive education, and use e-government to streamline public administration and citizen participation.

Smart City: Challenges

Some of the challenges of a smart city are:

  • Privacy and security risks: A smart city collects and processes a large amount of personal and sensitive data, which poses potential threats to privacy and security. For example, a smart city may expose citizens to data breaches, cyberattacks, identity theft, and surveillance.
  • Ethical and social issues: A smart city may raise ethical and social questions about the role of technology in society, the impact on human rights and dignity, and the distribution of benefits and costs. For example, a smart city may create digital divides, social inequalities, discrimination, and exclusion.
  • Technical and operational difficulties: A smart city requires a complex and integrated system of technologies, infrastructures, and stakeholders, which may encounter technical and operational difficulties. For example, a smart city may face interoperability issues, compatibility problems, maintenance costs, and reliability challenges.

Smart Cities in India

India launched the Smart Cities Mission in 2015 with the aim of developing 100 smart cities across the country by 2023. 

Apart from the already established metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, some of the cities that have made significant progress in implementing smart solutions are Indore, Surat, Pune, Bhubaneshwar, Agra, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kochi, Varanasi, Visakhapatnam, etc., that are working towards improving the lives of their citizens and creating a sustainable future.

These cities are continuously evolving towards smarter governance through the implementation of various initiatives such as waste-to-energy plants, integrated command-and-control centre (ICCC), intelligent traffic management system (ITMS), public bike-sharing system (PBS), real-time air quality monitoring system (AQMS), adaptive traffic control system (ATCS), solid waste management system (SWMS), open data portal (ODP), digital literacy program (DLP), street light automation system (SLAS), public Wi-Fi network (PWN), intelligent public transport system (IPTS), citizen service portal (CSP), etc. 

Conclusion

A smart city is not a one-size-fits-all solution but a context-specific vision that depends on the needs, preferences, and values of each city and its citizens. A smart city is not an end goal but an ongoing process that requires continuous innovation, collaboration, and evaluation.

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