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If you follow news closely or are a tech enthusiast, you must have noticed the frequent mention of ‘smart cities’ in the media. The excitement around our future societies is understandable. The upcoming changes in our lifestyle are truly revolutionary, and they are coming sooner than you can imagine.
So what exactly are these smart cities that everyone keeps talking about and what kind of changes will they bring in our lives? Let’s find out:
Defining Smart Cities
A smart city can be described as the amalgamation of various ICT (information & communication) technologies to enhance our lifestyle by improving the quality of services, facilitating better connectivity, and reducing costs and resource consumption.
Arguably the most important application of smart city technologies is in public safety. Fingerprint sensors are already a widely adopted identification system. Soon other bio sensing technologies like face recognition will provide added layers of security. Besides minimizing the risk of intrusion and identity threat, it will also provide the side benefit of convenient security checks at public places for the general public.
Advanced communication systems will also help in development of integrated & intelligent law enforcement systems. Also, emergency management through crowd sourcing will become a common practice.
While security is most important, better traffic management is likely to be the most cheered smart city solution! Self-driving cars will finally hit the road, leading to better traffic management, lesser accidents, and reduction in the number of vehicles on the streets.
For conventional vehicles, innovations like smart traffic signals (that self manage according to the traffic), parking assist apps and sensors, and real time traffic updates will make things much smoother.
We have many examples of free and fast Wifi access at public places. Plans are already in place in to extend this across cities. Once that happens, our cities will become truly connected.
Another major connectivity breakthrough is a cloud based data repository. All local public and private agency can draw reference from a common pool of information. Records management will become easier and more accurate. This will also facilitate big data analytics for city management authorities.
Smart city technologies will extend to our homes as well. IoT (Internet of Things) based devices will use sensors and connectivity tools to work together as synchronized systems. These smart gadgets can easily be accessed and managed remotely to increase home safety and efficiency.
If automated gadgets weren’t enough, we will also have highly functional virtual assistants to help us with daily chores. ‘Asking’ your virtual assistant to manage media, lock up the doors, do meal planning etc. will become second nature.
Smart city technologies are not just focused on improving our lifestyles. They have a crucial role to play in conservation of our natural resources. Solar panels for power generation and electric vehicles are examples of such eco-friendly solutions that are steadily gaining popularity.
Besides that, the overall energy management solutions are going to get more sophisticated with the help of advanced sensors and data management.
Our future lives in smart cities are full of possibilities. All the discussed technologies will mature and there will be many new innovations as well. In other words, we are in for some very exciting times, very soon!