According to the United Nations, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and it’s expected to spike to 68% by the year 2050. Projections show that urbanization remains a trend, with some 2.5 billion people moving to cities in the next few decades. As the world continues to urbanize, sustainable development must be the priority for the successful management of urban growth.
It is a serious challenge when trying to meet the needs of growing urban populations, making it all the more important to have initiatives that function to improve the lives of all urban dwellers. It’s even more crucial now due to the pandemic, considering how residents in metropolitan areas have been among the worst hit by the health crisis.
This situation is an impetus for us to be proactive and reevaluate the way cities are built and maintained. It is our chance to shift towards smart cities and leveraging technology to increase efficiencies, improving the quality of life for city dwellers. The main idea behind it is to use technological advancements to make everyday life easier for everyone, while also maximizing available resources. Initiatives can include anything from better electricity management, improving transport systems, securing IoT infrastructure, and much more.
Smart cities should be built on a foundation of efficient transportation systems. From better traffic management to autonomous vehicles, smart transportation systems can contribute to solving a number of inefficiencies throughout a city. Case in point: automotive manufacturer Toyota is building a smart city to test its fleet of self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, and robots. The main goal is for people, buildings, and vehicles to be all connected and communicating with each other through data and sensors. The zero-emission and self-driving cars will be used for delivery and retail purposes and will be fully operational without any need for human intervention. Chicago has also launched an initiative towards smarter transportation, albeit in a simpler manner. They launched a mobile app that allows citizens to make online payments and keeps tabs on the updated bus and train schedules to make traveling around the city much easier.
When it comes to electricity, the IoT can play a big part in shifting away from wasteful lighting tech and transition towards a more efficient lighting system that makes use of the newest sustainable technologies. For instance, the state of New York is enforcing a state-wide upgrade program called Smart Street lighting NY, which promises that 500,000 streetlights will be replaced with energy-efficient LED technology by 2025. This is made possible by the intricate parts that make up lighting and IoT technology, which have evolved over the years. Specifically, LED lighting can thank metal core printed circuit boards or MCPCB technology for their energy-saving capabilities. The MCPCB’s customizable size keeps circuits from overheating, allowing engineers and designers to dream up and execute sustainable projects like the NY LED streetlights. As the core technology behind these elements of smart cities improves, we can expect to have smarter cities much sooner than anyone ever anticipated.
Better waste management system
As the population in cities continues to grow, waste production is increasing, too, forcing municipalities to look for alternative ways to make collection processes more efficient. Instead of the usual method of following a pre-determined route and a fixed collection schedule, waste management can rely on sensors tethered to waste receptacles to measure fill levels and alert them when they’re ready to be collected and emptied. The city of San Francisco has already started this initiative, having outfitted 1,000 trash bins throughout the city. Officials hope that these sensors can help them track and learn from patterns in the bins and use the information to make decisions on where to place the receptacles in the future, as well as the time trash collectors should empty them and where recycling options might be needed.
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Technology editorial written by Rhiane June for the Techolution blog.