It’s exciting to live in a time when technology is making everything smarter. Smartphones, smart homes, smart cars and now the talk is all about smart cities.
Advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are not only mind-boggling innovations, but contribute to greener urban environments, cutting emissions and waste, and turning cities into high-tech, eco-friendly centers.
While many think of these green, tech-savvy cities in terms of the digital technology they use, it’s important to ask how smart cities can benefit those who live there.
A recent Juniper study commissioned by Intel set out to look beyond the business and economic advantages of a smart city, and focus on the most important part of any city: its citizens. The results suggest that a smart city can help residents lead a richer, more fulfilling life in which they can give back to their communities.
According to the study, smart cities lead to:
More time for things that matter. Perhaps the most significant finding from the study is that, due to increased efficiencies, smart cities will give back an average of 125 hours to every resident, every year. That’s more than 15 working days to pursue hobbies, spend with family, go to the gym, the list goes on!
Shorter commute, reduced ecological footprints. Gridlock causes drivers to lose up to 70 hours per year — that’s a lot of time spent in traffic. WHO estimates that 3 million deaths every year are attributable to small particulate matter pollution, a large portion of which is generated by vehicle emissions. The study determines an integrated IoT-enabled infrastructure of intelligent traffic systems, safer roads, directed parking, and frictionless toll and parking payments can give commuters back up to 60 hours a year. These benefits speak for themselves. The only problem is that it will take longer to finish that audiobook!
Healthier citizens. In addition to giving citizens more free time to work out and establish a healthy routine, smart cities will be at the forefront of providing efficient and effective medical care to residents. AI will be used in chatbots and other digital services to give a preliminary diagnosis. Wearable apps to monitor blood pressure, pain tolerance and temperature will help people manage chronic conditions without hospitalization, and “telemedicine” enables contagious flu sufferers to avoid doctor’s offices with an examination via high-speed video link from the comfort of their home.
Smarter governance. Cities depend on government services and offices, but too often these departments operate in silos and are bogged down by their own internal bureaucracy. Interoperational software systems can break down these silos and greatly reduce the time it takes to process requests. For example, in Rio de Janeiro, it takes an average of 45 days to complete the paperwork needed to start a new business. The study found that with the right software, this could be reduced to one day.
Safer, stronger communities. Public safety and a low crime rate are important for the well-being of all residents in a city. An intriguing way smart cities can fight crime is through computers that crunch crime data and generate predictions on where and when a crime is likely to occur. This data can be used by police departments in deciding where to patrol, drastically reducing violent crimes. Elsewhere, computer learning programs can monitor areas for unusual activities, and if discrepancies are detected, send a response team to investigate.
Better mobility, less pollution, closer communities and more time to lead a healthy, active lifestyle are just some of the ways smart cities benefit their residents. To learn more, read the full report or check out the highlights in this infographic.