Cities host more than half of the world’s population and emit more than 70% of greenhouse gases. By 2050, estimations say that two out of three people will live in cities. It let us believe that cities will continue to grow. To deal with the environmental issues, cities of tomorrow will have to be more sustainable, clean, safe, and smart. Fully interconnected cities called “smart cities” can provide a wide variety of solutions to contemporary issues such as climate change, traffic and pollution.
What is a smart city?
A smart city is a city that uses information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve the quality of urban services. It aims to facilitate the organization of the city. Technology can also improve its functioning, and create new uses for citizens, companies, and public services. A smart city includes data collected from citizens. These datas are processed and analyzed to monitor and manage things such as traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply systems or even waste management.
A Smart City uses technology to optimize the efficiency of urban operations and services and connect to citizens. One of the challenges of smart cities is to take advantage of new digital technologies to improve daily life. In this context, sustainable development and nature play a very important role in the quality of life in the city.
How can smart cities can help us deal with environmental issues?
Working to improve the quality of life of citizens while protecting the environment is a challenge. Ecology is becoming a real concern, and many cities are moving towards an urban development model where the “smart” meets the sustainable. Cities of tomorrow will combine digital and technology to provide better environmental aspect of life.
Smart to reduce air pollution
Intelligent traffic signal system can help reduce car pollution in the city. It flexibly adjusts to traffic flow in order to prevent from traffic jams on overloaded portions of the road. Sensors placed on the road surface can also update the lights in real time by transferring traffic data to a centralized management platform.
Another common problem for drivers in the city is parking during peak hours. Searching for a free space is not only annoying, it also causes traffic jams and actively contributes to air pollution. Intelligent parking staking systems can offer a solution to this problem. With sensors installed in the ground vehicles leaving their parking spaces are automaticaly identified. Then and then users are informed of available spaces. Public transit systems can also benefit from this type of data exchange. Connected sensors are able to identify trends in ridership and peak periods, so they can adjust vehicle capacity and frequency accordingly.
Smart to manage energy consumption
Smart street lightings are an integral part of the city of tomorrow as well. These devices can store energy and use it wisely by adjusting the level of brightness based on the number of people and vehicles passing through an area. During the rush hour, for example, light can be increased as people approach crosswalks or bus stops. A signal also can be sent immediately to city services when lights need to be replaced, so that a maintenance technician can be dispatched.
Smart to a better waste treatment
Finnaly, another example of what technology can manage in a city is the treatment of municipal waste. In lots of cities, organizing garbage collection is becoming a huge problem. Today, most urban waste collection companies still remove waste according to inflexible, long-term schedules and routes. However, by integrating IoT apps and sensors with the containers, optimized routes can be defined on a daily basis.
Liuzhou Forest City : This future is already a reality in China
If the reality of a Smart City seems to belong to the future, it already exists in some some parts of the world. In China for instance, one of the most polluted countries in the world, a forest city has been built.
This green city called Liuzhou is located in the province of Guangxi, in southwest China. It was designed by the Italian architect Stefano Boeri.
This city will be able to host 30 000 people. Homes, commercial spaces, schools and hospitals’ facades will be covered with vegetation, so that the city will have more than 1 million plants of a hundred different species and 40 000 trees. The objective is to absorb 10,000 tons of CO2 and 57 tons of pollutants per year and produce 900 tons of oxygen each year. Such a concentration of plants in a single place will also decrease the average air temperature of the city.
In addition to being good for the environment, this concept results in a living environment that is also good for people’s health. Trees, green walls, green roof and plants everywhere create a healthy environment with clean fresh air for the citizens.
With such revolutionary concepts being widely adopted, new cities will no longer be a disturbance to regional ecosystems but will integrate with them naturally instead.