Smart Cities Around the World

Smart city picture

Smart cities are the new fad. People all around the world are trying to make cities better equipped with technology for energy, surveillance, healthcare and infrastructure. Cities are centers of innovation, beehives of social activity, hotbeds of creativity, and among the world’s most fascinating places to visit. Cities are growing; according to National Geographic, by 2030 the United Nations estimates that 61 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. Smart cities use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint–all supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy.

The following are a list of a few of the most innovative and advanced smart cities in the world:

1) Vienna is establishing bold smart-city targets and tracking their progress to reach them, with programs like the Smart Energy Vision 2050, Roadmap 2020, and Action Plan 2012-2015. Vienna’s planners are incorporating stakeholder consultation processes into building and executing carbon reduction, transportation and land-use planning changes in the hopes of making the city a major European player in smart city technologies.

2) Toronto. The highest rated smart city in North America, IBM recently opened a Business Analytics Solutions Center in Toronto. Toronto is also an active member of the Clinton 40 (C40) megacities, which seek to transition to the low-carbon economy. Toronto also recently began using natural gas from landfills to power the city’s garbage trucks. That’s smart closed-loop thinking.

3) New York partnered with IBM in 2009 to launch the IBM Business Analytics Solution Center to address “the growing demand for the complex capabilities needed to build smarter cities and help clients optimize all manner of business processes and business decisions.” In New York, IBM is already helping the city prevent fires and protect first responders as well as identify questionable tax refund claims–a move that is expected to save the city about $100 million over a five-year period.

4) London has been well-recognized for some of its sustainability innovations (i.e. congestion tax) and its robust transit system. The city will soon be home to Smart Cities research center housed at Imperial College, which will leverage transport, government, business, academic and consumer data in hopes of making the city more efficient and innovative. Just the other day, London announced a partnership with O2 to launch the largest free Wi-Fi network in Europe.

5) Tokyo. Tokyo is the first Asian city on this list. Last year, the city announced plans to create a smart town in the suburbs. In partnership with Panasonic, Accenture, and Tokyo Gas (among others), the eco-burb will contain homes that integrate solar panels, storage batteries, and energy efficient appliances all connected to a smart grid. Tokyo is also focused on promoting smart mobility solutions.

6) Hong Kong is experimenting with RFID technology in its airport, as well as throughout the agriculture supply chain. The city has also been a leader in the use and adoption of smart cards, which are already used by millions of residents for services like public transit, library access, building access, shopping, and car parks.

7) Barcelona was recently ranked the number two smart city in Spain in the IDC report, and with good reason. The city is a pioneer in smart city and low-carbon solutions. It was among the first in the world to introduce a solar thermal ordinance about a decade ago, recently launched the LIVE EV project to promote the adoption of EVs and charging infrastructure, and the city also recently announced a major partnership to develop a living lab for smart-city innovation.

Professionals and industry insiders expect smart cities to become a large market in the future, with projections of nearly $40 billion spent on smart-city technology by 2016.

All these cities are unique in their own way and focus on various technologies and innovations. Future smart city advisers and governments should definitely take a look at these cities for inspiration and build a better future for the economy!

 

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