Week 19: Smart City

by wangtianchen

Smart phones, smart meters, smart cars – the world is going smart and technology and innovation are leading the way

Right or Wrong?

‘To me, a smart city is not just about using more high technology, but it’s also just about being smarter and more innovative about its business’ Dr. Boyd Cohen, climate and urban strategist and the author of annual smart city rankings, shared his view. [1] So as I understand a Smart City is a developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government. A smart city should be able to respond faster to city and global challenges than one with a simple ‘transactional’ relationship with its citizens.

What do I see as the promise of the Smart City concept?

As the article from the Guardian website ‘The truth about smart cities: “In the end, they will destroy democracy”, Adam Greenfield at LSE Cities, with giant technology companies mentioned the smart city concept seems to have crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot – a vision that originated.

The concept of smart cities originated at the time when the entire world was facing one of the worst economic crises. In 2008, IBM began work on a ‘smarter cities’ concept as part of its Smarter Planet initiative. By the beginning of 2009, the concept had captivated the imagination of various nations across the globe.

Countries like South Korea, UAE and China began to invest heavily into their research and formation. Today, a number of excellent precedents exist that India can emulate, such as those in Vienna, Aarhus, Amsterdam, Cairo, Lyon, Málaga, Malta, the Songdo International Business District near Seoul, Verona etc.

Likewise, innovation and growth are possible along multiple paths, with potential to advantage or to disadvantage
any number of distinct communities. Cities are a shared resource and responsibility. How can we ensure that the public investments currently being made in future and smart cities will have a meaningful and socially equitable return? [2]

What are the potential problems of smart city?

According to this article, the potentially an issue with open-data initiatives such as those currently under way in Bristol and Manchester, which is making publicly available the data it holds about city parking, procurement and planning, public toilets and the fire service. So how privacy and security is open data? In recent years, concerns over privacy and security have been an important part of the debate over the impact of smart meters and smart grids. Many of those discussions are equally relevant to smart cities and the way data collected will be used and by whom. [3]

An example of a smart city from Programmable City – Copenhagen Lighting the Way to Greener, More Efficient Cities [4]


A bike path in Copenhagen helps bicycling commuters avoid hitting red lights

COPENHAGEN — On a busy road in the center of town here, a string of green lights embedded in the bike path — the “Green Wave” — flashes on, helping cyclists avoid red traffic lights. On a main artery into the city, truck drivers can see on smartphones when the next light will change. And in a nearby suburb, new LED streetlights brighten only as vehicles approach, dimming once they pass.


The “green wave” embedded in the surface of a bike path in Copenhagen

Aimed at saving money, cutting the use of fossil fuels and easing mobility, the installations are part of a growing wireless network of streetlamps and sensors that officials hope will help this city of roughly 1.2 million meet its ambitious goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.

Eventually, the network will serve other functions, like alerting the sanitation department to empty the trash cans and informing bikers of the quietest or fastest route to their destinations. It’s all made possible through an array of sensors embedded in the light fixtures that collect and feed data into software.


Copenhagen’s installation of a wireless network of streetlamps and sensors is meant to help the city reach its goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025

[1] Cohen, B. (n.d). Growing Smart. Retrieved February 07, 2015 from http://bricsmagazine.com/en/articles/growing-smart

[2] Puri, A. (2014). What are the smart cities. Retrieved February 07, 2015 from http://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/green-living/what-are-smart-cities/article6321332.ece

[3] Woods, E. (2014). Smart Cities and Big Data: Chalenges and Opportunities. Retrieved February 07, 2015 from http://www.european-utility-week.com/SmartCitiesandBigData

[4] Cardwell, D. (2014). Copenhagen Lighting the Way to Greener, More Efficient Cities. Retrieved February 07, 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/09/business/energy-environment/copenhagen-lighting-the-way-to-greener-more-efficient-cities.html