Ever Wondered What It’s Like to Live in a Smart City?

18th Jun 2021
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It’s 7am. A smart thermostat switches on the heating and turns on the hot water. Light sensors open the blinds, and you wake up to a perfectly heated house and a lovely hot shower.

As you begin your daily commute to work in your electric car, the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) re-phases the traffic lights along your route to make the traffic flow better, so you arrive into the city 20 minutes earlier than normal.

Your smart parking app finds you the perfect place to park; seconds from your office block and right next to an electric vehicle (EV) charging dock.

As you reach your office, connected sensors switch on the lights and turn on the heating so it’s the perfect temperature as you sit down.

You’re halfway through the day and you start to feel unwell. You make a quick telehealth call where your vital signs are checked, and the data transmitted to a health care professional. They tell you you’re showing the early signs of a cold, and recommend you stock up on vitamin C.

Before you start to make your way home, you check your phone. The Intelligent Transport System (ITS) app has assessed the evening commute and recommended an alternative route that’s quicker. You get home 10 minutes earlier than usual.

This is a taste of how life could be in a smart city. And it’s a reality for people living in cities such as London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai….

What is a smart city & why do we need them?

A smart city is a city that uses information and communication technology (ICT) and sensors to collect data. This data provides key insights which are then used to provide better services, improve people’s lives and make the city operate more efficiently. 

Where did smart cities come from?

Despite what you might think, the concept of a smart city started back in the 1960s. The US government started to use aerial photographs, databases and cluster analysis to improve services, prevent disasters and reduce poverty within cities. The rapid rise of technology has catapulted the smart city concept to where it is today.

Why do we need smart cities?

Apart from the ability to optimise city operations, promote economic growth and improve the quality of life for city dwellers, smart cities are becoming a necessity to cope with the rising growth in population.

Currently, 54% of the world’s population lives in a city. This is expected to rise to 66% by 2050. This means that cities across the world will have to accommodate an extra 2.5 billion people within the next three decades. With the sheer volume of people living and working in such close proximity, cities must function as efficiently as possible.

With this expected population growth there comes a need to manage environmental, social and economic sustainability of resources.” – TWI Global

How do smart cities work?

Three layers make up a smart city:  

Smart city layer 1: Technology

The first layer of a smart city is the technology base layer. It’s where a mass of sensors, objects and machines are connected by a high-speed communication network, transmitting data to and from various applications using wireless technology and the cloud.

Smart city layer 2: Applications

The second layer is about the cloud-based applications that collect, manage and translate this raw data into actionable insights. These insights help companies and city citizens make better decisions that improve the quality of their lives.

Smart city layer 3: People

The third layer of a smart city is about getting businesses and people to use these cloud-based applications. If people don’t use them, they won’t work. People need to engage with these apps using their smartphones, connected cars and smart homes. 

Pairing devices and data with a city’s physical infrastructure and services can cut costs and improve sustainability.” – Thales

These three layers connect to provide real-time data that gives city people better lives and companies the ability to understand demand patterns and respond with faster, lower-cost solutions.

What are the main benefits of a smart city?  

We’ve established that smart cities improve operational efficiency and, therefore, improve the quality of life for people living or working in the city.

But what specific benefits do they offer the city, its citizens and its workers?

Smart city benefit #1: They’re safer

In a smart city, emergency response times could be cut by up to 35%. Smart systems can optimise emergency call centres so that the ambulance, police and fire brigade services can be dispatched 2-17 mins faster. And, with predictive traffic-light rephasing, emergency vehicles can get a clear path through.

Plus, data-driven predictive policing and real-time crime mapping is likely to save up to 300 lives a year because it allows the police to highlight patterns and anticipate crime before it happens.

Smart city benefit #2: They save time

The real-time traffic information that can be delivered through IoT sensors and public transport and smart mobility apps has the potential to cut the average commute time by up to 20%. It allows traffic signals to sync up, traffic crews to fix problems before they turn into delays and commuters to change their routes on the fly and find parking spaces quickly, without endlessly circling the city.

Smart city benefit #3: They’re better for health

Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring systems that take vital readings then transmit them to doctors for assessment can reduce the burden on the NHS by more than 4%.

The data can alert the patient and doctor when early intervention is needed, heading off complications and hospitalisations.

NYC: A perfect example of a working smart city

New York is rapidly becoming one of the smartest cities in the world. For instance, they have a congestion management system that has improved travel times by 10%. They’ve built a unique communication network that has replaced payphones and provides fast and free Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging, and a tablet to access city services, maps, and directions. And they’ve installed automatic water meters in people’s homes, which send daily water readings to a computerised billing system which then updates New Yorkers on their water consumption.

Smart cities like this one, and also cities like London, Singapore and Dubai, use smart tech to improve the city and the quality of life for its residents and workers by up to 30%.

This translates into lives saved, fewer crime incidents, shorter commutes, and a reduced health burden.” – McKinsey

Myriad Associates: Specialists in smart R&D and innovation

Experts in R&D and innovation tax relief and grants, the team at Myriad Associates are familiar with ground-breaking tech projects that are designed to make cities across the globe smart.

Having been in the R&D tax industry for over a decade, they’ve helped thousands of businesses claim R&D tax relief on their R&D activities. With a 100% success rate, find out how Myriad Associates can help you claim R&D tax credits for your own R&D work by visiting the website, calling us on 0207 118 6045 or sending us a message.