The Tomorrow is Now!

Smart Cities are emerging as the solution to the many challenges the world is facing today, above all an extraordinary migration to urban environments that has accelerated on a global scale and which has no precendents in history. In a Smart City you look at the urban development as a living system, with its own cardiovascular system (traffic, mass transit), skeletal system (infrastructure), respiratory and digestive systems (energy, waste) and a nervous system (telecommunications), and the aim is to develop an Intelligence System that connects the central nervous system to a brain.

In the past centuries, there were more people in rural areas than there were in the urban. Back then, agricultural practices and hunting is what humans depend on for survival. In the mid-21st century, and 2005 to be specific, a major milestone was reached in the history of mankind with a massive shift in the population density from the rural to the urban. By 2050, the population in cities will hit 70% as a result of the influx of people into urban areas. The implication of this includes: "depletion of natural resources, constrained budget, and an increase in the demand for quality space." The solution to this future challenge is a substantial implementation of information and communication technologies (I.C.T), basically in the wireless form. Technologies like Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, transportation solutions, and e-Government are already moving in that direction as a solution to this challenge, but a perfect and organised system for this is the Smart City.

A Smart City is an integration of I.C.T and internet solutions in a very secure fashion to manage the assets of a city, improve the efficiency of services, and to meet the needs of its residents. A Smart City involves a wide range application of digital as well as electronic technologies, implementation of I.C.T into government systems, working environments and life transformation to unite I.C.T compliant persons all which are driven by socio-economic priorities.

Smart Cities are characterized by an efficient use of physical assets through the analysis of data through an artificial intelligence for a healthy cultural, social and economic development. It uses open innovation processes like e-participation to engage its members. It also responds promptly and more effectively to changing circumstances through learning, adaptation and innovation implementation.

Smart Cities have the best management strategies to solve challenges in energy, water, waste, infrastructure, public safety, education, healthcare, green buildings, transportation or citizen services. These are done using public engagement tactics such as participatory budgeting, city square round-table discussions. Technology-driven improvements like smartphone tools that are location-based and city wide wireless services are also utilized.

Smart Cities make use of creative technologies like "pollution capturing sensors, cost-saving light bulbs, efficient internet connectivity, and digitized health centers that use video conferencing for training and consultations," to mention a few.

A lot of cities have started utilizing these concepts, and many have won awards too. The 2016 World Smart City Award on November 16th went to The City of New York.