Sustainable Smart Cities: The Right Way Forward

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3Q 2020 | IN-5908

As climate change continues to rear its head across the globe, governments are constantly planning to create and build sustainable cities for their citizens. The utilization of smart technologies and tools to address environmental hazards is crucial to providing people with a decent quality of life. Smart cities are sprouting around the world at a rapid pace, with more than 500 smart cities being built across China alone. Tencent, one of China’s tech giants, is creating a smart city model that puts people and the environment first. Named “Net City,” it will be situated in Shenzhen with a focus on reducing car usage, increased environmental conservation, and prioritizing sustainability. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles are among the technologies that will be utilized in this project, with nature-focused features tackling the impacts of climate change.

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Climate Change Changing the Characteristics of Smart Cities

NEWS


As climate change continues to rear its head across the globe, governments are constantly planning to create and build sustainable cities for their citizens. The utilization of smart technologies and tools to address environmental hazards is crucial to providing people with a decent quality of life. Smart cities are sprouting around the world at a rapid pace, with more than 500 smart cities being built across China alone. Tencent, one of China’s tech giants, is creating a smart city model that puts people and the environment first. Named “Net City,” it will be situated in Shenzhen with a focus on reducing car usage, increased environmental conservation, and prioritizing sustainability. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles are among the technologies that will be utilized in this project, with nature-focused features tackling the impacts of climate change.

Climate resilience is another factor that has been introduced to smart cities. With an abundance of tropical countries around the world, like India, at a higher risk of suffering the impacts of climate change, it is especially prudent as these countries tend to have cities and populations located in geographically vulnerable regions that are susceptible to natural disasters such as flooding. According to a 2015 report by the United Nations (UN), in the previous decade, floods accounted for 43% of all documented natural disasters globally, affecting 2.3 billion people and causing US$662 billion in damages. And this figure is increasing.

How Do AR, VR, and Location Technology Help?

IMPACT


As there is a growing shift toward participatory planning, governments are increasingly engaging residents in the decision-making process. However, as not all residents will understand the blueprints for a new facility, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have enabled a more convenient and immersive experience. Cities are venturing into developing digital twins, where a 3D replica of a city that allows easy simulation and visualization is created. These digital twins provide accurate and reliable data to government agencies, allowing them to make decisions related to activities such as long-term urban planning and time-critical emergency response. Cloud services, the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors etc., supply the digital twins with real-time updates that will enable cities to better manage their infrastructure. One such example would be Singapore, which invested US$53 million in its “Virtual Singapore” project, a digital 3D model of the city that provided government agencies, researchers, and businesses with a testbed for further smart city developments. Governments can utilize digital twins to identify areas where flood infrastructure is necessary and pinpoint locations that are more susceptible to environmental hazards.

AR and VR can utilize location technology to further enhance the planning and execution of smart city projects. As countries and cities continuously collect data on every possible element, location intelligence tools such as HERE’s Geographic Information System (GIS) platform will not only map out the data points, but also provide analysis and develop insights. These geographic data layers can be overlaid with digital twins, allowing governments expand their scope of improvements.

The Future Is Sustainability

RECOMMENDATIONS


According to ABI Research’s Smart Cities Market Data (MD-VCIT-103), it is forecasted that global smart cities technology investments will grow to US$2.34 trillion in 2025 from US$1.48 trillion in 2020, at a five-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.6%. This indicates that countries around the world are driving smart city developments. However, on the back of climate change, governments need to refocus and realign their idea of smart cities towards sustainability and resilience. This would require investments into technologies such as digital twins, GIS platforms, AI, etc., with a focus on the environment.

In a 2018 report from The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), it is estimated that, by 2050, 66% of the global population will be residing in cities. As more cities are created, it gives rise to concerns regarding waste management, energy consumption, quality of life, etc. Therefore, it is crucial that smart cities combine the use of technologies such as AR, VR, and location technology to allow for more sustainable, eco-friendly, and resilient living.

 

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