Smart City advantages and disadvantages of smart cities

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Smart City or smart city

Any city in the world that lends itself wants to have or sponsor the label of Smart city or smart city. A very broad concept with different versions and guidelines.

With technology came innovation and sensors to collect data. If we apply it to urban development practices based on sustainability, we can improve asset management; institutions, public and private transport, companies or the inhabitants of the city themselves.

The concept is broad, but we are going to go step by step …

What is a Smart City

The Smart City is defined as an intelligent city that combines technology with data analysis to improve the services offered by a city, reduce energy cost and environmental impact.

Obviously, as a definition in itself, it is not new, since initially before the appearance of this idea, let's call it "Cool", existed Sustainable cities, livable cities, healthy cities, safe cities, bioclimatic cities, green cities … etc. The only thing, that now, we have the technological capacity to process more information to improve services.

With technological advances we can analyze more information and data to improve the services of a city

A series of qualifiers, which have become Smart Cities (In English) or commonly called smart cities (Intelligent cities).

As we see in the previous image, the intense use of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is an important part of these smart city who wants to change the world thanks to knowledge of data and information.

Why do smart cities or Smart City appear?

Although we can understand what is a smart city, it is important to emphasize why they appear. Here it comes into play that half of the world's population lives in cities with the United Nations forecast that 70% of human beings will live in urban centers in 2050.

This body … "It warns that the increase in the population of cities can become a real problem, unless it is possible to maintain harmony between the spatial, social and environmental aspects of the localities, as well as between their inhabitants… The influence of these consequences poses a challenge.

New information and communication technologies provide innovation to make more efficient use of infrastructures and resources

In turn, seeing the new digital business opportunities that are presented, the large information, computer and electronics companies take advantage of this social situation to obtain a new consumer market. Is sponsored by "Smart Citys"… Where the technology in the city exerts an important factor.

Population trends in megacities of the future

So, together, you could say that they represent a new urban development whose objective is to improve cities towards sustainability through digital information extracted from the sectors and layers that make up the city. Here, knowledge of information plays a crucial role!

It is curious that the main cities labeled as "Smart City" are reciprocated and protected by large companies such as Telefónica, IBM or Microsoft … etc. But this is another topic of discussion.

How smart cities work

In collaboration with Barcelona, Buenos Aires and other major cities around the world, Boyd developed a set of indicators to support the benchmarking of the smart cities. The digital cities they can be identified (or categorized) in six dimensions.

  • Digital economy
  • Digital mobility
  • Digital ecosystem
  • Digital citizenship
  • Digital life
  • Digital governance

What are the smart cities evaluation indicators

The smart cities Wheel (Smart Cities Wheel) it is a holistic framework for considering the key components that make a city smart.

These six axes or dimensions connect with the theories of urban development and growth. And, to be more specific, they are based -respectively- on theories of regional competitiveness, the economy of transport and ICT, natural resources, social and human capital, quality of life and citizen participation in the governance of cities.

Factors in smart cities:
Savings in services and sources of value

The automatic and efficient administration of urban infrastructures will range from the possibility of creating new services that better respond to the specific needs of each city, to the possibility of identifying future inconveniences that the urban space may face.

Support for the evolution of cities

There are a series of factors to complement in the extension of any city whose deficiencies must be supported and helped by means of other resources while determining future problems and being able to act "before they occur."

This ideal or idealized model of a city that needs a digital transformation In a suitable technological environment, a series of subcategories are included:

1.- Distributed generation

It consists of the smart city having electricity generation distributed throughout the territory: the supply is personalized, the micro-generation, not centralized.

2.- What is eMobility?

Implementation of the electric vehicle in cities and other motorized elements, such as motorcycles, and the respective public and private charging stations.

3.- What is Smart Citizen?

The citizens and inhabitants are undoubtedly the essential part, while without their active participation it is not possible to make these ideas.

4.- What are Samrt Grids?

It is known as Smart Grids to interconnected smart grids, those that have a circulation in both directions of data between the Service Center or control center and the user who lives in the city.

5.- What are Smart Buildings?

As a model of effectiveness and efficiency, buildings must be smart and more energy efficient. Buildings with home automation and other electronic elements that respect the environment and that have integrated energy production systems.

6.- What is Smart Metering?

It is about the intelligent measurement of the energy expenditure data of each user, by means of remote meters where the readings are made remotely and in real time.

7.- What are Smart Sensors?

The smart sensors they will have the function of summarizing each and every one of the precise data to make the city smarter. They are an essential part to sustain connectivity and also information, and make each subsystem fulfill its function.

How smart cities collect data

The smart cities collect data through information and communication technologies (ICT). Information bases that are analyzed by highly complex data analysis programs that provide summaries of information.

As an example of a model Smart-City platform Y how smart cities collect data. We can see the complexity that can be reached in a small municipality in the following image:

A city can be described as digital (or smart) when it invests in human and social capital, in traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) infrastructures, in fuel communications infrastructure, in sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a rational management of natural resources, through participatory management.

What are the Smart Cities advantages?

As we can see in the infographic on the cover of this article, a symbiosis must exist and coexist in four reference points to provide a solid base; Human Aspect, Government, Environment and Economy which will involve a commitment from the different agents involved in a process of constant improvement in order to improve the quality of life, both of the environment and its inhabitants, so that the Smart City advantages are:

  • It is closely related to the evolution towards the so-called Internet of the Future, particularly in relation to the Internet of Things or IoT- Internet of Things.
  • Increase of a new business model and opportunity. New services that better respond to specific needs of citizens.
  • Automatic and efficient management of urban infrastructures. Improve energy saving, energy efficiency improvements … etc. Improvement in the management of mobility and urban parking, to improve traffic and reduce search times for a parking space, decrease queues and waiting times in municipal offices and health centers, etc.
  • The Smart cities improve urban planning and surroundings. More and improvement of green areas, peripheral areas … etc.
  • Reduction of the expenses that a property, electricity, community … etc. can produce. Reduction and optimization of times for the consumer.

What are the most outstanding achievements?

Although it should be noted that each city is a world and according to administrations they have directed the implementation in one direction or another, we can highlight some main achievements such as:

  • Regulated lighting to reduce energy costs.
  • Smart cards for citizens such as health IDs, transport cards … etc.
  • Self-parking cars capable of finding free parking spaces for users.
  • Mobility systems based on sharing bicycles.
  • In the smartcities we found different apps to interact with the city.
  • Intelligent water supply, intelligent energy management (public lighting … etc) and more efficient waste management
  • Surveillance systems at all levels that theoretically maximize citizen security.
  • Better traffic control.
  • Faster assistance; from accidents to improving infrastructures.

What are the disadvantages of Smart Cities?

Not all that glitters is gold, and in the world of tech cities There are a series of drawbacks closely associated with the technological aspect that can cause setbacks in the expansion of the city. The problems of smart cities are:

  • Financing from the Administration, since a significant investment in technology is required.
  • Given the implementation of a high degree of technology in the smartcities it depends on companies that offer these services. Both at a public and private level.
  • Reduction of privacy. "To be more efficient, it is necessary to observe what habits the consumer has in all its aspects and levels"
  • Real estate is more expensive. They are more complex to run and build.
  • Greater technological gaps between cities and realities. Not all cities can bear such a cost.
  • Due to the complexity absorbed by the cities Smart Cities, at the same time produce a considerable increase in waste.

Obviously both the advantages and disadvantages They are from the appreciation that I have been able to observe and that surely many more can be listed in both cases, what I do perceive is that they sell us the Smart cities as the need of the future and I do not know if it convinces me that they know how many times I pass by the corner of the street "X" or that my house has more "Electronic Cachibaches" "than the electronic store in my neighborhood, as examples, all for …"Be more efficient" or to improve the environment and the natural environment, in theory, in complex ecosystems for the habitat of the users.

Smart city examples

Although it may not seem like it, as an example from Spain, there are a great variety of smart cities that different improvement projects are being implemented in this regard (Here to see them all in Spain and here in Europe). One of the most recognized cities both nationally and internationally is the city of Santander Smart City.

Part of the blame is for the approximately 12,000 fixed sensors and as many mobile ones placed over the last few years in strategic locations on the Santander street map: buildings, lampposts, wastebaskets, cars and municipal buses that have now been transformed into a kind of information laboratories. throughout the city.

We can see from the Open Data Santander from here where there are also a great variety of apps that provide the data to users.

With all the sensors, the local authorities are achieving a smart city example in a position to discover and be informed of a multitude of variables, in real time; the precise location of its fleet of buses, the humidity conditions of each corner of the city, the traffic situation, the pollution indices or the noise level of the municipality.

That is, they can make decisions in a more intelligent way and manage each and every one of the resources involved in the day after day of the city, public and private, in a more cost-effective and environmental impact way. (Interesting is the analysis of the implementation of the smart-city concept from here in the city)

What is the smartest city in the world?

London is the smartest city in the world in 2022, according to the seventh report of the IESE Cities in Motion Index 2022. New York occupies the second position, followed by the great city of Paris.

The annual index analyzes the level of development of 174 cities in the world through nine dimensions considered key for truly smart and sustainable cities. These are: the economy, the environment, human capital, governance, international projection, transport and mobility, social cohesion, technology and urban planning of the city.

Links and documents of interest for further information:

  • To know everything about these peculiar cities and one of the most coherent Reports in Spanish… From HERE.
  • Very good opinion piece from Smart-City phenomenon… From here.
  • Access to the cover infographic… From HERE.
  • European Smart Cities… From HERE.
  • International study on the situation of ICT, innovation and Knowledge in cities… From HERE.

Other articles of interest:

  • Manuals on energy efficiency. (More than 100)
  • How color affects architecture.
  • Natural lighting.
  • Wood in architecture.
  • Plastic in architecture.
  • Vegetable covers. Advantages and disadvantages.

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