Fantastic Cities and Where to Find Them Pt 2

From New York City to South Korea – Smart Cites need to breath

In part 1 we talked about what makes a smart city and some of the challenges that need to be faced head on to make progress. But what brings the Smarts to a City?

Let’s begin with the basics, IT infrastructure. Forrester believe a strong data architectureis an important foundation and that cities need to take stock of their existing software assets, broadband & Wi-Fi and most importantly, scrutinizing how they work with, analyze and argue with data.

It may not sound very Smart City but when you think about it this is the back bone of any smart city, if the infrastructure is lacking a city cannot be truly connected. Infrastructure, like fibre networks to deliver data at speeds and a wide cellular coverage with no dead spots, is needed to allow the collected data from all these sensors to be transmitted and flow to their respective collection end points with minimal latency and no loss. Free public Wi-Fi has moved positions from one of luxury to a necessary requirement in today’s connected world, but someone must pay for it eventually.

New York City has found an ingenious way to do this by launching "LinkNYC", upgrading their old unused and dilapidated public payphone eyesores to shiny new digital advertising boards with 55" Hi-def screens. New Yorkers can now enjoy free Gigabit Wi-Fi and phone calls paid by advertising from over 950 Link stations, as well as device charging points and not to mention a big red "panic" button to automatically call 911 in emergencies. In total 7,500 Links are planned to be installed across five boroughs.

Check out the long awaited Fantastic Cities and Where to Find Them Pt 2 by #Qlik's Adam Mayer

Whilst traversing the bustling city streets and parks you might stumble upon the "Soofa" bench, this urban furniture is way beyond the popular park bench. The Soofa allows pedestrians to not only take a rest but with its solar powered table they can also sustainably charge their phone while resting their Converses’. But the smart part is that this bench collects data on how many people come to the area. Now city planners can finally analyze public space use in their community and use this data to benefit citizens like design better parks with facilities that are really needed and wanted by the people, from optimizing operations to better managing public events.

Even better the data collected is anonymous so there is no invasion of privacy. How would you prefer your city monitoring public space or events performance? While you are relaxing on a bench, chatting with a friend, maybe just taking in the sights and sounds, OR by having clipboard shoved in your face asking you tons of questions?

Look around, there could be a Soofa near you, they don’t just inhabit NYC, they are cropping up all over the place, 65 cities across 5 countries no less.

In South Korea, their first smart city, Songdo, was built from scratch using IoT and big data to raise the quality of life. Songdo's own Central Park utilizes tidal and solar power, with sustainable irrigation systems, free Wi-Fi is available to all from many poles also equipped with CCTV and siren bells to offer emergency assistance to its visitors. All this data is fed into a central command center operating 24 hours a day and already they have saved a life. A lone jogger suffered a heart attack in the park at dawn and managed to hit a nearby siren bell before collapsing, alerting officials who could quickly assess the situation and get an ambulance to the precise location within minutes.

In the 80’s Starship built their city on rock and roll, but today's cities are being built on bits and bytes. I find it exciting how data can be used by city officials to start to better understand how their open public spaces are being used which will then lead to better designs improving these spaces for all. It is said that urban green spaces are the lungs of the cites so let’s take a deep breath and get to work.


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