Now’s the Time for Smart Cities

Modern cities continue to grow at a rapid pace, with 55 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas today and a projected 13 percent increase to that number by 2050.1 Cities around the world are being challenged to provide tangible and equitable economic, social, and environmental benefits for their citizens. They must also provide better quality and more sustainable services, improve public safety, address congestion and environmental issues, reduce costs, and promote local economic competitiveness. Scaling existing infrastructure and human resource-intensive processes is cost prohibitive, unmanageable, and unsupportable, so cities are looking to technological solutions to alleviate these pressures.

As population has grown, technology has taken unprecedented strides. With the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, edge computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G communications networks, the technological tools needed are now available, and transitioning to a smart, technology-supported city is now possible.

Embedded smart city technologies (sensors, cameras, and edge computing) can now provide near real-time awareness of issues requiring attention, and data collected and analyzed from these devices can be used to optimize city operations. Smart city solutions can improve basic services, enhance public safety, increase sustainability, and inform planning and policy making. They can also be used to enhance public experiences and optimize operational efficiency at local sports stadiums, theme parks, and resorts or improve parking and safety on university campuses. The reach and impact are broad, but every application helps result in a better quality of life for citizens.

Smart cities capture and analyze data from the sensors, cameras, and computers that are embedded throughout a modern city. This web of devices and data creates an increasingly sophisticated layer of intelligence that can make everything and everyone, from traffic signals and trash cans to policy makers and police officers, smarter and more effective.

Smart city solutions are expanding in cities and towns of every size, from smart traffic lights to smart public safety. Three examples of cities investing in technology and building momentum on the path toward becoming a Smart City include Singapore, San Francisco, and Reykjavík.

Smart city technologies include video cameras, IoT sensors, and devices that can sense, analyze, and act on their own very quickly when powered by AI delivered over high bandwidth 4G and 5G networks.

Cost: Adding cameras, sensors, and computing devices to city infrastructure takes funding. However, costs can be offset through an incremental build-out or by expense reductions and new revenue streams resulting from smart technology use.

Data management, security, and privacy: Once installed, smart city technologies create and depend on massive amounts of data. Collecting data, plus cleaning, analyzing, and sharing it across systems is a huge effort. Additionally, protecting people’s privacy and the city’s information is critical. Addressing data management and systems integration with smaller projects over time, using hardware-based security technologies and end-to-end measures, can help cities tackle these challenges in a secure manner.

Intel and our partners are leading the shift to open, software-defined smart city solutions that can run on off-the-shelf hardware. We’re building solutions with open standards, so today’s technologies work with tomorrow’s innovations. We’re helping cities extend AI practically everywhere and deliver smarter services, safer streets, and a healthier, more sustainable urban environment for every resident.