Industry trend

What is a smart city?

| Author / Editor: Ahlam Rais / Ahlam Rais

Big Data, machine learning and Internet of Things are incorporated into numerous segments of smart cities which make them more friendly and liveable towards people living in it.
Big Data, machine learning and Internet of Things are incorporated into numerous segments of smart cities which make them more friendly and liveable towards people living in it. (Source: Deposit Photos)

A smart city is dominated by smart technologies which enable the city heads to monitor the region in real time. Optimising resources and reducing costs with the help of technology are two of the vital advantages of a smart city.

In simple terms, a smart city is all about making things smart with the assistance of smart technology. Popular concepts such as Big Data, machine learning and Internet of Things (IOT) are incorporated into numerous segments of these smart cities which make them more friendly and liveable towards people living in it. According to IT education website, Technopedia, a smart city is a designation given to a city that incorporates information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. The overarching aim of a smart city is to enhance the quality of living for its citizens through smart technology.

Dubai’s smart city infrastructure

There are many countries that are exploring this idea and have also proved successful to a certain extent. For instance, Dubai has invested 8 billion plus dollars for building smart city infrastructure. The move follows the ‘Smart Dubai’ initiative announced in 2013 by H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in order to transform Dubai into a 'smart city'.

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Dubai aims to be the first smart city in the world and hence, it is not suprising that the country has already rolled out many stunning smart services. This includes a smart app introduced by the Dubai Government called ‘Dubai Now’. With the assistance of this app, residents can pay electricity bills, book a taxi, track a parcel, find a nearby ATM, report a violation to the Dubai police and even track a relative’s visa status, all in a single app.

Next, the city has introduced a fully automated police station where people can drop in and seek help from the police. With no staff members, the police station stays open 24*7, seven days a week and one can report crimes, traffic incidents, lost items, etc. On entering, people are directed towards private cubicles where they can communicate with police officers via a large television screen.

Barcelona’s smart systems

In Barcelona, Spain the city plans to save billions of dollars every year just in the energy sector by installing smart systems such as smart street lighting. The street lights function on sensors and switch on in the night as and when it detects motion. This helps to reduce costs and efficiently use the resource. In addition to this, one can conveniently detect a parking spot by obtaining information in real time via an app. This is possible with parking sensors that make use of lighting and metal detectors to detect if a spot is occupied. Another interesting smart system is the garbage sensor.

In this case, the garbage cans act as a vacuum that suck up the garbage through underground pipes. This innovative automated process reduces costs and also helps to reduce noise pollution of the garbage trucks. These are just some of the smart features adopted by the cities that aim to transform into a fully-fledged smart city in the coming years.

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Globally, there are many more countries that have adopted such smart services and facilities in diverse sectors with an aim to provide core infrastructure, a clean and sustainable environment to its citizens and fully optimise its resources. Without a doubt, smart cities are the future!

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