Not so distant future
Autonomous self-driving vehicles, 5G, using robots for remote surgery, and more all rely on a fiber network in a scalable conduit infrastructure. Data is collected through sensors and analyzed in milliseconds–making computations and decisions faster than humanly possible.
Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Toronto, Seoul, Singapore, Reykjavik, Tokyo, Paris, London, and New York have been the top 10 smartest cities since 2015 (with Berlin sometimes taking Amsterdam’s spot), according to the IESE Cities in Motion Index. They are revolutionizing urban life from smart transportation services to greener buildings.
However, these emerging technologies don’t happen without the proper infrastructure to support the necessary exponential growth in data. Cities that don’t have a strategic plan for the continuous integration of technology are scrambling to play catch up, such as Helsinki, Barcelona, and Milan which the IESE Cities in Motion Index recognizes have advanced the most in the last few years. Those cities at the cutting edge are thinking regionally, not just locally. They understand that high speed broadband access isn’t a luxury; it’s a modern-day necessity. We are an internet-reliant society and the chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots” is rapidly widening. Those who aren’t currently connected, will be or will likely move to where they can be connected.
Evaluating digital infrastructure
The dramatic trend towards urbanization coupled with concerns over the rapidly aging population, competition for talent and corporate investment, limited natural resources and economic inequality are propelling local governments to recognize the true value of the right-of-way. It’s turning out to be their most valuable asset as they evaluate options for fiber deployment. Simply put, more services are needed, and technology can ease that burden.
Recent advances in artificial intelligence allow systems to be more efficient by recognizing patterns, learning, and adapting without human intervention. Smart Cities are able to leverage technology to save energy and resources while improving efficiency and connectivity. That saves taxpayers money plus, they are always informed and able to communicate, whether they are at work, home, or play.
For example, Amsterdam worked with local businesses and corporations to test sustainable solutions on Utrechtsestraat, a major shopping avenue. Their Climate Street initiatives helped cut energy use by 10 percent with energy-efficient lighting, waste reduction, and recyclable tram stops.
Solving community problems
Each community takes a unique path on the journey toward becoming a Smart City based on pain points that usually prompt a smaller, focused, department-level project that grows into a larger more encompassing scale.
The integration of information from power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, hospitals, and other community services can be used to optimize the efficiency of city operations and enhance the quality of services while reducing costs and consumption.
Seoul introduced a shared parking service which uses Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to allow citizens to check the availability of public parking and plans to install 50,000 smart sensors by 2020 to collect information on dust, traffic, and other issues.