With the help of big data and the Internet of Things, the cities of the future are going to look a lot different. These data-driven metropolises are called “smart cities” and they use technology to facilitate a sustainable, interactive environment for their residents for a higher quality of life. Some cities have already begun adopting these ideas in waste management, transportation, law enforcement and energy use, and more are expected to get on board in the future.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Masters in Computer Science recently created an infographic that outlined not only the current developments in smart city technology, but what those technologies will mean for the future of sustainability and communication in the world’s most populated areas. According to the group’s estimations, the world will be home to 88 smart cities by 2025, and the smart city technologies industry will be worth $27.5 billion by 2023.
The infographic specifically addressed the need for smart cities as the world’s population continues to grow to a projected level of 8 billion people by 2025.Much of that growth will be concentrated in urban areas. It also pointed to environmental issues, such as the diminishing resource of clean water, estimating that half the world’s population will be living in a water-stressed area by 2025. NJIT stressed these environmental concerns because IoT technologies have already demonstrated an impact on sustainability. In Dubuque, Iowa, the “smart water” project has helped households in the city save an average of 7 percent in water consumption. These technologies have also had an effect on energy conservation.
In May 2015, Forbes magazine reported on smart cities, noting significant achievements in creating applications that would power intelligent street lighting in Glasgow, Scotland. The program can map energy use around the city and turn itself off as needed to save energy. To bring these kinds of advancements to their own infrastructure, many cities are offering financial incentives for software developers to come in and contribute their smart city inventions to the area. Glasgow, for example, funneled the euro equivalent of $37 million into applications such as the smart lighting and other data-collecting innovations.
Because these smart cities also invite or require citizens to interact with their surroundings using smartphones and wearable devices, some have raised concerns for personal security and privacy. A huge part of the ideology behind the IoT is using that kind of “private” data , and not every city is ready, able or even willing to delve into those details. Other critics are skeptical on how these applications would benefit cities in the developing world. Living in a smart city could be expensive, and that could drive a wedge even deeper between class lines.
However, with all the ways these applications have already helped cities and how universal smartphones are, Forbes magazine stated that the future for many cities will likely be smart, and someday we may even take these innovations for granted.