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The history and future of smart cities

What is a smart city?

The main idea of a smart city is surprisingly simple – people should feel comfortable living there, business – working efficiently, and authorities – it’s easy to manage all of that. In fact, it’s embodied in a digital ecosystem that links all elements of urban infrastructure, from transportation to social institutions to urban property. This integration comes at the expense of the Internet, computing, and the Internet of Things.

One of the main competencies of a smart city is to communicate with its residents and to implement their daily processes according to their wishes. At the same time, it can autonomously manage its resources, energy, space, and information in the most efficient way to improve the life of its citizens.

Our term “smart city” is a feature of the English concept of the smart city, which originated in the late 1990s. In the beginning, the term was only applied to ecology and was practically synonymous with green technologies. In the early 2000s, the focus shifted to IT tools, through which a smart city manages data and ultimately improves people’s quality of life.

For any smart city, components such as:

Sensors and sensor systems. They use the smart city’s digital ecosystem to receive data from users and a variety of urban systems.

-The digital platform is the “heart” of a smart city. It regulates life support and all processes within the city’s infrastructure.

Residents and social institutions are also an integral part of a smart city.

smart city's digital ecosystem

Singapore city downtown.

The example of Santander suggests that only large metropolises cannot necessarily be an intelligent city. Although the latter have advantages because they are centers of scientific and IT-elite attraction and high-tech developments. For example, Barcelona and Amsterdam have been among the pioneers that have successfully implemented smart city development programs. In America, the leaders of this trend were New York and Chicago. But the real boom of today’s smart cities is taking place in Southeast Asia, the most famous Asian smart cities are Singapore, and Tokyo, but they are not limited.

Not all smart city initiatives have been successful. Perhaps the most failed story is the South Korean city of Songdo. The $40 billion smart city project is incomplete decline today. Planners’ dreams have never come true, despite huge budgets and recent advances in high technology. The main reason for the collapse of the intelligent Songdo – not thinking infrastructure and the desire of the creators to implement all ideas in one fell swoop. The result is deplorable – now Songdo – an unfinished city half-empty, life in it is unnecessarily expensive, and most residents move to Seoul.

Smart Cities Today

Today, there are about 165 smart city projects in the world, located on almost every continent from Latin America to Oceania. Of course, they are all different, with their own characteristics, the degree of digitization and the introduction of high-tech technologies. But among them are those that astonish the imagination of even modern man. Here are a few of them.

The Chinese Yinchuan today has become the embodiment of the intelligent city of the future. The main feature is the widespread introduction of facial recognition. The citizens of the city don’t even need a telephone to pay for public transportation or shopping. Yinchuan is one of the 200-pilot cities in China where Smart City standards are being implemented. The Chinese government plans to relocate about 250 million rural residents to cities by 2050.

The Japanese Fujisawa, near Tokyo, is very close to the first prototypes of smart cities, whose main goal was eco-friendliness. Renewable energy, smart gadgets that help save resources, support for independent living, and the sharing economy are all Fujisawa. You can manage everything via a mobile application directly connected to the city portal. Every Fujisawa family has a kind of blog where you can, for example, highlight city-wide initiatives. It wasn’t very difficult to organize such an approach because only three thousand people live in the city.Milton Keynes is the smartest city in the UK. Its history began in the 60s, the city was built near London to unload its overcrowded suburbs. The project was based on an intelligent layout. The city has no historic center and is designed as a grid of perpendicular motorways with a one-kilometer stage. Today, the city has become an innovative transport center, actively developing and introducing driverless cars. In addition to drones, the city is introducing the MK: Smart system. It collects and collates data on the city from various sources: satellite readings, ground sensors, and energy, and water systems; information from video surveillance cameras; reconnaissance function; social and economic indicators. All this makes Milton Keynes one of the fastest growing and most promising smart cities.

Future of Smart Cities

Experts say that by 2020 there will be about 600 smart cities in the world. While critics of the smart city concept argue that all of today’s smart cities are 90% broken promises. One of the reasons for the delay compared to reality is investment. Intelligent street lighting will save the city a lot of money but implementing such technologies means even more.

Another potential problem that awaits us with the spectacular development of smart cities is the lack of data centers (data centers). It is in the herd and process all the information from many urban sensors. It is not yet clear whether the technologies will cope with the exponential growth of the electronic periphery.

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