When I first heard the term Smart City, I thought it was just one more buzz word in a world full of smartphones, smart homes and smart cars. I understood that perhaps some insightful marketer would qualify a city as smart for commercial purposes. Nevertheless, I was very curious in understanding a little more about the term and the technologies that form part of its ecosystem.
Smart City is a broad concept that describes a city that uses technology to address major challenges like housing, accessibility, infrastructure, waste management, transportation, utilities, budgeting and services. A combination of technologies, like Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Drones, Sensors and Blockchain enables the operation of a Smart City; and Big Data allows to analyze, measure and optimize the fulfillment. Smart cities aim to improve social, economic and environmental outcomes for its residents through a sound strategy, service modernization, sustainability and customer experience.
The closest case to our community is the city of Toronto, where a vision and roadmap for the application of Smart City principles, including urban design, and the usage of cutting-edge technologies, is currently under development; whereas, a multinational tech company has a project to transform its waterfront into the world’s most technologically advanced neighborhood, including modern solutions to waste collection, sidewalks that melt snow, autonomous taxibots, air quality tracking, benches usage, heated walkways, retractable raincoats, energy usage, pedestrian counts, among other amenities.
As with many innovations, smart cities have received opposition due to concerns on privacy, stating that constant surveillance may affect people’s behaviours, and possibly their own rights as citizens. Considering both points of views, a healthy discussion must be held regarding privacy, data ownership and governance, however both parties should base their opinion on facts, and not assumptions driven by fear or lack of knowledge.
Smart Cities are indeed an emerging subject of innovation that is very related to Canada and the Toronto Community, and being vastly related to different technologies, it is one of Hispanotech’s focus for our events and workshops in 2019. If you want to know more about Smart Cities, visit https://hispanotech.ca/2019/04/07/upcoming-smart-city-event/ where as a member, you have a discount for our upcoming Smart City Vision event on May 16th, that will offer a Keynote and a panel where industry leaders will show how these innovations will affect people and the environment.