Home' Facility Perspectives : Vol 9 No 3 Contents FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 9 NUMBER 3 69
SMART CITIES |
Smart cities have been talked
about for years. They sound cool
-- like places where we ought to
be living. Saving energy. Living
in clean air. Having instant
access to information about
Ihave attended numerous presentations
featuring beautifully rendered images
of the cities of the future, accompanied
by equally inspiring descriptions of the
possibilities of these smart metropolises...
visionary stuff. But you know what? I have
never actually seen a smart city that looks
like these images.
Did you know that Frost & Sullivan estimates
the smart city market to be worth US$1.5
trillion by 2019? Yes, that's right -- trillion. But
we can't build all-new smart cities by 2019, can
we? Of course not. So, what is a smart city if
not the gleaming vision that we see in futurists'
pictures? Well, it's a city that exists today. It's
Rome, London, New York and Sydney -- cities
that have grown organically over hundreds and
sometimes thousands of years -- but smarter.
So, how do you go about transforming
today's city into the smart city of tomorrow?
Cities are largely built around the services
that provide amenity to inhabitants. Smart
cities, on the other hand, are built around
smart services that are actually of use. The
aim of a smart city is to provide urban
services of high quality that perform well. An
effective smart city will allow inhabitants to
engage with their environment more closely
than ever before, and will assist in reducing
community costs and resource consumption.
It is about making all of the things that
go into our cities smart. It's really not about
grandiose visions; it is about practical needs.
Take, for example, the 'Internet of
Things' (IoT), a network of everyday
things -- from microwave ovens to cars
to clock radios -- that all talk to each
other and consumers via the internet.
As examples, the IoT allows consumers
to turn on their heating while on the
way home, or to have their vehicles alert
them to danger or close objects. Future
uses may include medical monitoring
and automation in a variety of fields.
This provides amenity to consumers,
connecting their world for efficiency,
quality of service, and engagement with
their communities and service providers.
Another example is the sharing economy.
Uber -- what I consider to be a smart service
provider for the smart city -- has become
the world's largest ride share company, not
because someone built a new smart city, but
because technology enabled the company
to create a practical solution for a practical
problem in any city, anywhere (subject to
laws). Ditto Airbnb, which is now the world's
largest provider of accommodation. Both of
these offerings are based on the concept of the
sharing economy, in which people who own an
asset (such as a car or a house) offer the use of
these assets to others who need them.
Let's consider the metaphor of a
computer or a smart phone. Each has
multiple components that, on their own,
aren't so useful; they are basically just
chunks of silicone. What they need is a
way of working together. They need an
operating system (OS). With an OS, apps
can run, which are what make a smart
phone so useful.
So, why not adopt the same approach
for a city? Imagine that you have an OS
that provides the platform for service
providers to run apps that would transform
their businesses from traditional 20th-
century outlets into online offerings, hugely
increasing amenity for city inhabitants.
Imagine an air-conditioning maintenance
service provider using an app that runs on
a smart-city OS, allowing the company to
communicate with customers online, sell
services, coordinate manpower and install
low-cost monitoring so that they can keep an
eye on their customers' air conditioning to
prevent problems occurring.
Or imagine a restaurant chain that could
monitor the freezer temperature in its
400 premises and automatically dispatch
an engineer with a freezer van to rescue
valuable stock before anyone knew that
there was a problem.
Smart cities are not the cities of tomorrow;
they are the cities of today that run a smart-
city operating system.
WHAT MAKES A CITY
BY BEN CHURCHILL, CEO, URBANISE.COM LIMITED
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