The number of people living in urban areas keeps increasing year after year, and it is estimated that 70% of the population will live in cities by 2050. Managing ever growing cities is becoming more and more challenging, with urban areas turning into day-long traffic jams and frustrating parking lots.
So how important are smart cities for urban planning and urban management?
Firstly what is a smart city? According to Wikipedia: "a city can be defined as 'smart' when investments in human and social capital and traditional and modern communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory action and engagement."
By definition, urban planning and urban management are an integral part of what constitutes a smart city.
For a city to be smart, time and money needs to be invested into urban planning and urban management, BUT to be able to invest wisely into urban planning and urban management, we need data. To collect useful data in a sustainable way, the city needs to be a bit smart already.
Here are a couple of examples:
- when planning an new intersection or re-structuring an existing one, smart city technologies can provide easy access to data on the number of cars driving through the intersection on any given day at any given time, or when cars are stopped at the intersection, and how long they stop for, for example.
- with already existing infrastructure, knowledge is key to better utilise what is in place. In this case, sensors can give an insight into how the space is used, at what time, for how long, at what time of the day or on which day of the week.
Currently the data is collected in many different ways, from someone sitting at an intersection to temporary counting systems. But these methods are typically gathering data over a small, finite amount of time.
To add value data needs to be collected continuously, so it can provide feedback and insights in increments, to enable the city to make relevant implementations. As an example, knowing exactly when and where parking spots are available could increase the occupancy rate of a parking lot significantly, utilising the space more fully!
Urban planning and smart cities go hand-in-hand - you can't have one without the other.
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