Who knows if smart city technology really works?

Smart Cities are now a way of life. Surprisingly, the thinking behind smart cities has been in place and in use for decades and yet the average citizen is unaware of the efficiency gains this technology can deliver.

Part of the issue is the isolated and proprietary use of smart city technology. For example mass transport operators and owners have used their own proprietary solutions to manage resources for over 20 years.

This use of “owner built” technology is part of the issue that governments and residents face in established cities; some modern cities have aging networks that are expensive to operate and manage. In addition, these different systems often aren’t integrated and so communication between different systems can be fragmented and can lead to perceived inefficiencies.

This is not an issue that is going to go away; it is expected that by 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in mega-cities. This means that government and business leaders need to prioritise a coordinated effort in order to create social, environmental, and economic benefits both for governments and citizens.

The upside is well worth the effort; connected smart technology can dramatically alter city governments’ ability to improve day-to-day life for residents. By providing better visibility into urban transport systems and the other infrastructure that surround the city, cities can have faster, more efficient traffic management, fairer access to scarce resources, more rapid infrastructure repairs, improved traffic flow and road safety, and faster commutes.

One of the challenges is communication to citizens of the real impact that smart city technology delivers.  Over time, as smart city technology is used more often and in more places, the efficiency gains may be imperceivable on a daily basis, however they may accumulate over the course of a year.

Of course, cities can currently develop advanced traffic management systems, including traffic and parking cameras, variable message signs, traffic detectors and weather stations but it is the efficiency gain and impact that needs to be communicated, and measured.

One of the solutions is the use of traffic websites, and mobile apps that citizens themselves can use to improve urban parking, traffic conditions and movement. By self-empowering citizens governments are both communicating the benefit and gathering the data they need to make further efficiency gains.

Many of the efficiencies that come from smart city efforts are realised in government offices – but the largest potential benefit from smart cities comes from improving residents’ quality of life. The opportunities cover a broad range of issues, including housing and transportation, happiness and optimism, educational services, environmental conditions and community relationships.

By putting mobile apps, information and data in the hands of citizens governments can turn smart city communication into a true two-way street.


About the Author

Jason Marks is Business Development Manager for DCA Cities division. With a background in journalism and communication Jason is best known for his exceptional relationship management skills. He takes the time to understand his clients’ requirements, tailoring a city technology solution to meet their unique needs.

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