People! While you will not find that word in most definitions, the starting point for a smart city starts with municipal leaders making a commitment to make their city smarter. If a smarter city is not part of a city’s Master Plan, and its vision for the future and is not accompanied by a willingness to integrate smart technology into city operations, it is not likely that a city will be able to achieve smart status.
A common definition is that a smart city is one that uses data and technology to enhance operational efficiency and deliver sustainable solutions to enable economic growth and enhance the quality of life for its community. While many cities work at this, the bigger challenge is to integrate smart technology via the Internet of Things, electronic sensors, data analytics and communications into the city’s infrastructure…its energy usage, transportation system, water treatment, waste collection, public safety, parking and related services. Is there a smart city in the USA? Probably not if the total integration of municipal services is included in the criteria, however, many cities are working at getting smarter.
Take Chicago for example where the “Smart Chicago” initiative formed a foundation and fund for developing smart city solutions where citizens, corporate sponsors and government collaborate to invest in transformative technology to improve urban living.
Los Angeles is another example of a city hard at work to incorporate smart technology by providing access through an online portal to data on infrastructure, traffic, climate, health, pollution and other civic functions. Los Angeles also carefully monitors seismic activity and integrates the data along with water and fire conditions into a citywide notification system.
Here in New Jersey, the City of Newark has been making efforts to incorporate smart technology through the use of sensors on public vehicles that monitor fuel efficiency and emissions, through the installation of smart kiosks that will eventually to be located in each of the five wards of the city and via smart parking applications. At the same time, Newark has had to confront an antiquated water distribution system that has resulted in unacceptable levels of lead found in its drinking water in some areas. Having to deal with health issues like this impacts cities’ abilities to direct funds to smart technology and is why Chicago’s collaborative approach between government, corporate interests and civic organizations is so important in finding sources for smart dollars.
NJII’s Smart Cities program is designed to catalyze innovation to improve our cities here and now and create resilient environments where innovation, collaboration and an engaged citizenry thrive. With disruptive technologies come many questions and new opportunities. NJII is finding answers by bringing together leaders from business, government and our leading universities. In addition, NJII is actively involved in shaping the technologies and systems that can make cities smarter in their pursuit of economic opportunity and prosperity.