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Smart cities – dream of future or surveillance horror?

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Gandhinagar smart city's integrated central command and control goes fully  operational, Government News, ET Government

The idea that technology is reshaping every aspect of life is not a revolutionary statement anymore – rather a common knowledge across society. Recently, we experienced numerous technological advancements in the scope of livelihood and city improvement. Among many inventions, we can enlist things like autonomous cars, boldly introduced to the mainstream market by Tesla, or light sensors which allow for efficient utilization of energy in the buildings. 

By leveraging all these technological incentives, around 10 years ago, the concept of smart cities emerged on the horizon as an idea to make it easier for people to live in urban areas. As the foundation for developing such solutions, policymakers and tech enthusiasts picked the interconnection of the Internet of Things (IoT) – mostly sensors – and “urban” artificial intelligence algorithms. The reasoning behind those technologies comes from the IoT’s possibility to gather profound loads of data, whereas AI usage allows for its processing and development of further analysis, conclusions, and eventual recommendations. 

Before we go further, it is worthwhile to unpack the term “urban AI” as it will be necessary to understand the lining of presented inventions. As an example of it, we can analyze lamp posts packed with sensors and cameras which allow for intelligent light adjustment based on current weather, luminosity, and traffic. Each day when you go down a highway, the AI algorithm learns about the city and captures different urban features such as rush hours, sundown, or weather forecasts. By processing this information and historical data, urban AI implemented within this solution allows for adjusting the lamp posts in the most optimal way and the most sustainable one. Not only does such action can prevent possible accidents on the road due to the correct lighting, but also provide the city with savings based on leveraging daily sunlight. 

With the promise of improving functionalities, sustainability, and mobility, the concept of smart cities quickly became a buzzword under which many towns are now being developed. Analyzing the technological and regulatory framework, we can admit that there is still no chance of developing a completely self-maintaining city thanks to the introduced IoT, however, traveling around the world we can spot major improvements. As one of the best examples of a smart city, we can list Copenhagen which utilizes “wireless data from mobile devices, GPS in buses, and sensors in sewers and garbage cans to assess the state of the city in real-time and make improvements to decrease traffic, air pollution, and CO2 emissions.”

However, looking at those sensors and the loads of data they gather, we should also reflect on the possible dark side of smart cities. The regulatory framework is still not developed in many areas such as data protection and processing. This can cause ethical and legal dilemmas regarding who can access these databases and whether the government should have such profound access to the daily life of its citizens. The implementation of face recognition and sensors all over the city could actually provide information on your daily routine, who you meet up with, and where you go. As an interesting example of analysis of such data by the government, we can mention Social Credit System introduced in China. Is there a possibility that this practice will extend to Western countries with the bright idea of increasing cities’ sustainability by making them smart?

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Smart Cities

Reading Time: 2 minutesIn order to overcome the increasing problems of urbanization, a smart city is a structure consisting primarily of ICTs to create, implement and promote sustainable development activities.

In fact, the intelligent network of linked objects and computers that relay data using wireless technologies and the cloud is an integral aspect of this ICT scheme.

Using laptops and handheld computers as well as wired vehicles and homes, individuals interact with smart city environments in various ways. Pairing sensors and information with the physical infrastructure and facilities of a city will lower costs and promote resilience.

 

Why do we need smart cities?

Urbanization is a non-ending phenomenon. Today, 54% of people worldwide live in cities, a proportion that’s expected to reach 66% by 2050. Combined with the overall population growth, urbanization will add another 2.5 billion people to cities over the next three decades.

Environmental, social, and economic sustainability is a must to keep pace with this rapid expansion that is taxing our cities’ resources.

 

Copenhagen is a smart city!

A public-private partnership, ProjectZero, has been developed to encourage and support the transition of Sonderborg into a ZEROcarbon society by 2029, focusing on infrastructure, transport, urban energy supply and data/ICT. Carbon-free development and progressive urbanization have been accomplished from the early planning level to the implementation process, relying on the active participation of residents.A core goal of ProjectZero is the provision of education at all levels. People are studying how green approaches, from Kindergarten to PhD, will help them to co-create a new world. The city’s happiness is reflected explicitly in the constructive interaction between individuals. In rural areas, private homes are being upgraded with electricity, linked to green district heating, and the use of heat pumps is increasing dramatically.Trained local banks, craftsmen and real estate agents support the citizens’ green journey by offering competitive services and solutions. The journey often starts with shifting to inexpensive LED-bulbs and biking to work. Professional municipal banks, craftsmen and real estate brokers promote the green path of individuals by offering competitive instruments and tactics. The journey also begins by switching and cycling to work to cheap LED-bulbs.

 

Sources: https://easyelectriclife.groupe.renault.com/en/outlook/cities-planning/smart-cities-top-5-smartest-cities-world/

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