Will Smart Cities Be the New Norm?
We have seen a boom in smart technologies in the last few years, with smartphones, smart televisions, smart ovens, smart fridges and smart vacuum cleaners. Every major appliance has its own “smart” equivalent available in the market now; we’ve even taken the major jump of having smart homes. (put link to smart homes here). With that in mind, we have to ask ourselves, how long will it be before we have smart cities?
Today smart and digital technology is affecting every industry you can think of, be it taxi services like Uber or house renting services like Airbnb. Even cosmetic companies are affected by what some call the 4th industrial revolution. Revlon, for example, hosts more than 500 of its applications in a private cloud built and operated by its IT team, and popular western department store chain Macy’s has been using data from social media applications such as Facebook, to decide the colours for their next line of apparel.
Imagine having these types of interconnected systems and facilities on a city level. This is already possible thanks to IoT (link to IoT article here) devices such as sensors, lights, and meters to collect and analyze data. A smart city could then use this data to improve infrastructure, public utilities and services.
Some of the facilities which we may see in a smart city are:
Smart Architecture and Infrastructure
Building managers throughout the world are frequently looking for ways to sync IoT devices and solutions to infrastructure. As we mentioned before, through IoT devices one could gather data and find new and innovative ways to better infrastructure and potentially fix problems faster. One example of successful implementation of smart architecture and infrastructure is smart grids.
A grid refers to an electric grid, or a network of transmission lines, substations, transformers and more that deliver electricity from a power plant to your home or business. A smart grid uses IoT devices and digital technology to better this service by making it automated and regulating resources better; it can direct the desired amount of energy to areas that use it the most. The European Commission expects that 72% of consumers in the European Union will have smart electricity meters installed in their homes by 2020.
Smart Emergency Services
Some Emergency Services have started using drone technology to respond to some situations like fires. These drones can be used by first responders to assess a situation and help make decisions and find the best course of action to remedy a situation.
Thanks to smart technology, crime monitoring and prevention could become much easier. For example, a group from the University in Michigan created an app that ensures the safety of students who are walking to their cars at night. The user holds down a button on their smartphone screen until they get to their car. If they remove their finger at any time before reaching their car, a call is made immediately to emergency services, helping them to ensure their safety. In the future it may be possible for people to be made aware of areas where an investigation or crime is ongoing, letting them plan their walking route accordingly.
We already have the first working prototypes of self-driving cars so the time may well come when self-driving cars will become more prevalent, providing mobility on demand and reduce wastage of resources. Imagine calling an Uber and a self-driving car coming in within minutes to drop you off to wherever you want to go. That may well be the future.
We already have weather apps on our phones that can tell us the exact temperature for the day and what the weather will be like for the rest of the day. However, these are, for the most part still done by a team of people who then send the data to you via an app, resulting in a delay in the receiving of information. There may soon come a time when an app will be available which will be able to report issues and assess environmental conditions in real time, allowing you to plan your trip outside accordingly.
We are already entering a world where we no longer carry cash. With services like Visa payWave and TouchnGo we are well on our way towards a completely cashless society. The time will soon come when using cards, wearable technology and digital wallets to pay will become the norm.
Many countries have already begun to recognise the potential of smart cities and have begun working towards it. In Europe, countries like Amsterdam are leading the way in smart city development. In Asia, Singapore has embarked on the Smart Nation initiative to empower its people with networks and data.
The technological revolution in the property industry is coming. We must embrace it and garner the knowledge and skills necessary to use these tools which are being given to us in order to maintain a competitive edge and advance further.