What is a Smart City?

Smart Cities have become a buzzword and a trend – but do they add up to anything more than a promising concept to give us hope for a better future on a planet that is already under strain from abuse by humans?  Overpopulation in major metropolitan areas is undoubtedly a real issue. While over half of the global population already lives in urbanised environments, the human population will soon be 70% urban (by 2050). So how can we live together, and how can we avoid wasting natural resources while reducing greenhouse gases by almost 80%?


A quoi sert une Smart City ?

A Smart City is about offering a place to live that is optimised for cost (including the costs of its environmental impact) and for the wellbeing of its inhabitants. For example, Singapore (which promotes itself as a Smart City and even a Smart State) has developed Supertrees, which are trees that light up the area around them while collecting rainwater and moderating the city’s temperature. In Songdo in South Korea, the streets are lined with sensors that constantly analyse traffic flows and manage traffic to adjust energy consumption.

Esprit « Smart »

Adopting a smart state of mind firstly means aligning all decisions and infrastructure in to optimise resource preservation or even attaining energy self-sufficiency, and secondly involves developing creative ways to exploit the Open Data that is produced and by the city’s inhabitants and smart objects. Open Data is a fundamental principle of the Smart City, because high-quality, sustainable future living spaces are dependent on the effective exploitation of this data. If city managers are provided with the data from the city, they are empowered to virtualise every interaction between the city and its citizens within computer models with the clear aim of enhancing quality of life via new services and a communications that flow more smoothly than ever before.

Data around the world!

From Los Angeles to Lyon or Bogota, information that is transmitted via transport apps or smart objects is being collected and studied to create new transportation solutions as well as new routes to make travel safer. Bogota has the seventh-worst traffic jams of any city in the world, and the city’s level of danger is undoubtedly due more to its traffic problems than the crime and robbery that still persist in our memories. Opening up this data to the public and to private enterprise will enable everyone to enjoy a better quality of life and to get around more effectively. In Los Angeles, the focus is more on smart parking, because residents spend an average of $1,400 on parking each year – not to mention the increased pollution caused by time spent searching for a parking space, which adds up to an impressive amount. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the city is making use of algorithms both to optimise the availability of information about nearby free spaces and information relating to the current price of parking based on time and location. Intelligent parking management will become essential once we are using self-driving vehicles and operators will be required to optimise their cost of providing vehicles.

Via these few examples, it can be seen that widespread access to data and the facilities to process it is essential to the development of the smart cities where we all hope to live in less than ten years’ time. Many and varied projects are underway, supported by municipal and national governments, driven by the constant innovations from researchers and startups from all over the world. In a hyper-connected world, the transmission of data feeds the mathematical models that define and shape our future living spaces.

Being a Smart City means understanding and anticipating what the data say about the behaviour and the aspirations of the city’s inhabitants


To discover:Quayside : When Google creates its first Smart City in Toronto