While we’re not far away from the future of smart cities, investing in technology to make roads and intersections safer for pedestrians, cyclists, passengers and drivers will require coordination across city and state governments, private companies and citizens.
Building a smart city entails much more than just traffic control and public safety. Other considerations include open access to information (often created by citizens), equitable connectivity, improved sustainability, tourism and streamlined government systems and interfaces.
There are many reasons why a smart city is needed. Technology, for example, can help city workers be more productive as well as facilitate feedback loops and smoother interactions with citizens. Residents and businesses can reap the benefits of fast and proactive action, as well as improved quality of service and a higher level of trust in their city government and its stewardship of tax dollars.
The benefits of a smart city can be seen in Washington, D.C. where connected trash cans enable the city’s waste management team to track how full they are in real time and send a collection crew when needed, instead of relying on a set schedule. The results? A cleaner city, fewer wasted resources and fewer complaints.
The benefits of a smart city can also be seen in Los Angeles, where the city’s Internet of Trees is preserving and expanding green space with an algorithm that relies on Google Earth and Google Street View data. With 700,000 trees growing in over 469 square miles, this initiative drastically reduces time spent by surveyors, freeing up city planners to leverage the data to designate more land for parks and community gardens.