Upon mention of the smarty city buzzword, we immediately conjure images of a bustling metropolis with smart transportation systems, state of the art infrastructure, and green city plans. While technology, machine learning, urban tech and innovation play a massive role in the smart city system, the concept of a smart city involves more than just technology.
A considerable number of people are moving to the cities for business, work, studies, and recreation on a yearly basis. Bold Business recently reported on this growing trend in Asia. As a follow-on to that article, Bold Business is publishing its list of smart cities in the U.S that we view as being the leaders across the nation.
City planners, policy-makers and workers in the private business sector are looking for ways to collaborate and address the issues and concerns brought about by the influx of people. Indeed, the increasing number of thriving smart cities across the country is a testament to these efforts.
From Urban Information System to Smart Cities—How the concept evolved through time
The idea of a “Smart City” may appear to be a contemporary concept brought about by the developments in information technology. However, this model first came into the fore around the early 70s in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Community Analysis Bureau submitted an insightful 1974 report based on extensive market research. The report, titled “The State of the City: A Cluster Analysis of Los Angeles,” was an attempt to create an urban information system to tackle the problems of those days. The study collected vital information about the city. It could have been groundbreaking. However, the project failed to launch due to the lack of support from the city’s decision-makers.
The concept resurfaced in 2005 when then U.S. President Bill Clinton challenged Cisco—a network equipment company—to build sustainable cities. With this, the company pledged $25 million for research and initiated the Connected Urban Development program. The cities of San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Seoul are test projects experimenting with the technology.
IBM joined in the venture by setting up an experimental emergency response center in Rio, Brazil. By analyzing the data they gathered from weather sensors, IBM’s team is predicting the amount of rainfall in certain areas. This data helped the group plan their emergency response strategies better. From this project, IBM was able to develop the commercially available Integrated Operations Software.
Smart City—What’s that? What makes a city smart?
The idea of a Smart City is a complex concept. Experts are yet to establish one definition of what makes a city smart. However, Mark Deakin and Husam Al Waer, in their paper, “From Intelligent to Smart Cities”—as seen in the journal, “Intelligent Buildings International”—, both state that a smart city utilizes Information Communication Technology to meet the demands of the citizens of the city. The community’s involvement in the process is also necessary. By and large, a smart city should be able to use the information to:
- Sustain a robust economic, social, and cultural development through the efficient use of infrastructure. Maintain physical assets based on data analytics and artificial intelligence
- Engage and interact effectively with the city’s residents through innovative processes and technologies
- Respond with the changing times and circumstances by implementing technology in a manner that positively impacts the local community
Which cities are becoming the next Smart Cities in the U.S.?
Smart Cities in the U.S. are on the rise just as they are in Asia, Africa and, Canada. Government agencies, private businesses, and its residents across the country are discovering the benefits of smart cities. They are utilizing data and technology in improving the quality of its citizens’ lives.
The Bottomline with Smart Cities in the U.S.
As mentioned earlier, a smart city is more than just having the technology. Moreover, each city has varying needs and resources—which underscores the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. For a strategy to work, city governments must genuinely understand the needs of their citizens. More importantly, there should be efficient collaboration among all the different sectors in the city. With defined goals and concerted efforts, these smart cities in the U.S. are surely on the right track.