1.844.825.8389
Contact Us

The look at
the future of
smart cities
and the many
benefits of a
smart city

Author: Susanne Seitinger

There is a lot of talk these days around the future of smart cities. But have you ever wondered why a smart city is needed, and what the benefits of a smart city are?

Imagine you’re approaching an intersection in your car, ready to make a left turn. Pedestrians have begun crossing, and other cars are speeding up to beat the lights. You expect chaos and a flurry of horns. But, instead, smart traffic lights and a connected vehicle network broadcast data about your car’s location and route to other vehicles to activate their smart safety features—an intervention that keeps everyone on the road safe.

That’s a glimpse into the future of smart cities. There are many benefits of a smart city and reasons why a smart city is needed.

With 5G technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), the future of smart cities includes safer roads, driverless cars, and home energy automation. But strategic planning and communication are crucial to getting the most out of a smart city.

Why a smart city is needed

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.

The benefits of a smart city

None of this is possible without demonstrating why a smart city is needed and the benefits of a smart city to constituents, city workers, private partners and other government officials. By explaining the potential benefits, costs and expected return on investment for the taxpayer, you may have a better chance of creating goodwill and buy-in from all involved, which increases the likelihood of a successful project.

Demonstrating why a smart city is needed and explaining the benefits of a smart city can be as simple as educating the public about what intelligent lighting is and how it can save energy and improve public safety.  

Or, it could involve helping people understand that new digital parking meters that accept payments from smartphones can decrease the number of parking tickets, increase parking revenue dramatically and make people’s lives easier. 

Being transparent about what is being accomplished, and using data and analysis to back up your claims, can help stakeholders understand why a smart city is needed and why they need to invest in the latest technology.

Best practices for the future of smart cities

City managers already have a lot on their plate, but they can streamline smart city initiatives by incorporating a few simple strategies. When thinking about the future of smart cities, here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you’re building the right framework for your technology. You can’t be an expert in everything, but having a flexible platform that’s easily upgraded and incorporates new offerings can help keep your investment sound for many years.
  • Cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings can help. These services can lower upfront costs, help to maintain the latest technology on a shared-development dime and offload maintenance and server costs.
  • Use the private sector to your advantage. Many new technologies are being deployed via public-private partnerships. Letting the private sector know what you are looking for via a request for information (RFI) or a request for quotation (RFQ) can help you find the smartest resources at the best value. Big and small companies often end up partnering to create combinations they hadn’t even considered.
  • Choose a trusted partner. Let companies compete for your business, and be sure to tap into the expertise of private companies and consultants to help you make a wise investment. Evaluate what you’re getting for the fully loaded price—the lowest price is often not the best deal, so make sure you are issuing an RFP that is structured to deliver value. Choose solutions that are as future-proof as possible, with long-term commitment to service.

The future of smart cities is closer than we think. Now that you have a better understanding of why a smart city is needed and the benefits of a smart city, don’t overlook the fact that the right technology, partner and communication strategy can go a long way toward creating the future of smart cities. Discover how Verizon can help you leverage technology to improve your city’s quality of life, while helping to sustain our planet for the next generation.

Susanne Seitinger is Director of Public Sector Marketing at Verizon.