Broadband Basics

Raising the IQ of our Cities

By
Chorus Dow
date Created with Sketch.
October 30, 2014

This is a century of the ‘Smart’ City. In the time it takes you to read this article, another *60,000 people will be living in cities around the world. It is driving cities to position themselves as ‘smart’ centres where talent, innovation and business choose to live.

 

But what defines a smart city? Is it the collective IQ of its people? Its innovative culture? Use of technology to improve urban design and efficiency?

 

Ultimately, a smart city has to be about its people; we are the biology of a city. We make it complex: we are the ones solutions need to be designed for.

 

A smart city is therefore one that

 

This is a century of the ‘Smart’ City. In the time it takes you to read this article, another *60,000 people will be living in cities around the world. It is driving cities to position themselves as ‘smart’ centres where talent, innovation and business choose to live.

 

But what defines a smart city? Is it the collective IQ of its people? Its innovative culture? Use of technology to improve urban design and efficiency?

 

Ultimately, a smart city has to be about its people; we are the biology of a city. We make it complex: we are the ones solutions need to be designed for.

 

A smart city is therefore one that uses technology to make their city more liveable, resilient, innovative and sustainable; a great place to live and work.

 

The Intelligent Communities Forum defines five core ‘smart city’ characteristics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Technology infrastructure: the city treats internet bandwidth as an essential utility.
  2. Knowledge workforce: skilled at acquiring, processing and using information
  3. Social inclusion: policies and funding that ensure access to broadband and skills training
  4. Innovation culture: an environment that helps business innovate and deliver services
  5. Marketing and advocacy: communities have a vision and clearly communicate their advantages.

 

It cannot just focus on technology function, but on outcomes it wants people to experience.

 

South Korea’s u-Seoul programme of 2004 initially focussed on improving transportation and safety. But leaders realised it hadn’t made a material improvement in the quality of life for its people. Now Korea has Smart Seoul 2015, which is more people-oriented and collaborative. For example, they have a public recycling programme, where second hand smartphones and tablets are collected, repaired by manufacturers, then provided to low income or disadvantaged families.

 

New Zealand is not exempt from this trend. Ultra-fast broadband is a powerful platform upon which we can market our natural advantages relative to competing cities - Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore – to attractive business, investment and the skills we need for the coming decades.

 

Smart cities are not hype, they are happening

 

While the term smart city may be overused this is not a “way off in the distant future” trend. In 2012 there were 286 Smart Green City projects alone*. Smart cities include Seoul, Glasgow, New York, Singapore, Barcelona. Even Christchurch, as this article from Tech Research Asia shows. These cities are using real-time information - enabled by sensors, wi-fi networks, web and mobile-based applications - to connect and analyse information that will help manage transport, public safety, government services, health and education more efficiently.

 

Smart city Examples

 

Many cities are already experiencing real world benefits. Barcelona used connectivity to help turn the corner on profitability. The bus company in Helsinki is saving 5% in annual fuel costs by tracking and analyzing traffic data. Minneapolis has taken the guess work out of running its city through the use of analytics.

 

The opportunities and approach will differ city by city as solutions need to take into account current challenges, platforms, people, and culture. It is therefore important for cities and towns to determine the outcomes and benefits they deem most important to then build a smart city strategy around.

 

Below are some examples of what a smart city can deliver:

 

 

Intelligent transport systems:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sensors in our roads, traffic lights, street lamps and public transport systems provide instant information so you’ll be able to check your route before your start your journey, navigate around delays to reduce travel time and manage your journey in the smartest way.
  • Networks of wireless sensors provide real-time alerts about the mechanical condition of trains, buses and trucks.
  • Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll access real-time information about where to park.

 

 

Better public safety

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Public safety systems can connect to civil defence, accident and emergency units and traffic management systems. It means cities can manage a co-ordinated response to a civil emergency – for example, automatically diverting traffic, routing injured to appropriate hospital facilities, sending information uptakes to multiple devices, co-ordinating response teams. (see Madrid case study).
  • High definition cameras and sensors can be linked to street lamps and police. A reported crime scene can be quickly located, street lighting remotely focussed and high-definition cameras used to improve public safety.
  • Vulnerable individuals or children can have an alert where, if they leave a designated safety zone or push the emergency button, an alert is automatically sent to guardians, police and family. (uSeoul)

 

 

Managing Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Smart metering in homes will provide real-time information about demand and supply to help manage energy and water use.
  • Utility companies can monitor consumption habits to deliver what we need when we need it. [picture of a smart meter and some stats from Chattanooga]
  • Underground sensors in local parks can activate the sprinkler system when the ground is dry, reducing labour costs and improving water usage. [image related to this]
  • Movement sensitive street lamps increase lighting only when it detects activity, saving power.

 

 

Improving Public services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Interactive maps that let those with physical disabilities tag buildings with good access or alerting to those needing repair.
  • Helping people back into the workforce with online job skills and interview training (via TV), CV development and case manager meetings and remote interviews.
  • Supporting elderly or those recovering at home with a TV-based service delivering home-based physio, counselling and remote health checks.

 

 

Fostering talent and innovation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Providing urban planning that brings together the innovation ecosystem: universities, research centres, user groups, commercial businesses, financial institutions and entrepreneurs.
  • Incorporate ‘fab labs’: small scale workshops equipped with 3D printers, digital fabrication machines and a platform for manufacturing electronic boards.
  • Creating an open data platform aggregating sensor data with other public information – e.g traffic, tourist information, weather, public transport, historical – that innovators can access to create new commercial applications and services.
  • Offering the city to be an urban ‘test lab’ where new applications can be tested and pre-approved.

 

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