How smart cities help improve citizens’ quality of life

How smart cities help improve citizens’ quality of life
More and more, the smart city concept has taken hold in various parts of the world, whereby cities use smart technologies such as cloud and sensors to enrich citizens’ quality of life. Asian cities are in a great position to develop smart city initiatives, due to governments' stronger willingness to invest in technologies and engage the private sector in this regard.
 
Those are the points raised in a recent report, “Connectivity and QoL,” published by MIT Technology Review in conjunction with Dentsu Aegis Network.
 
The report cited many examples of how Asian cities are using smart technologies to enhance various parts of the everyday life, including commuting, shopping and consuming water and electricity.
 
In Australia, for example, the government has launched a Smart Grid, Smart City project, the report cited. “It addresses load shedding and blackouts along the world’s longest interconnected electricity network by using IoT-enabled sensors to improve demand forecasts,” the report said. “Concerns about energy security are also driving innovation in power storage — Tesla was recently awarded a contract in South Australia to develop a 100mw lithium-ion storage facility, dubbed the ‘world’s
biggest battery.’”
 
Then in Shenzhen, the city has been transformed into an almost cashless payment society thanks to the efforts of various tech companies. “Local Internet giant Tencent has revolutionized mobile payments in Shenzhen with the peer-to-peer payment functionality of its popular WeChat social media application,” the report said. “Shenzhen, where noodle carts on every corner have smartphones taped to them brandishing ‘Tenpay’ QR codes, was ranked first in China in terms of cashless transactions and consumer willingness to not carry cash in a recent report published by Tencent.”
 
Hong Kong, meanwhile, flaunts various smart city applications such as smart parking. “The Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) has invited developers to work with a parking vacancy API it commissioned, and has collaborated with the government-linked R&D center ASTRI to build an indoor and outdoor GIS-enabled IoT management system to gather real-time vacancy data for private vehicles. Moreover, the EKEO is keen to promote branding and design application development, in a nod to the development of a technology-enabled creative economy cluster in Hong Kong,” the report said.
 

Leveraging various technologies

 
The report found Asian cities are adopting various technologies to make themselves smarter. Some of them are listed as follows:
 
  • Cloud: Cloud computing infrastructure that enables fast and cost-effective application development is an essential foundation for smart cities.
  • “Open” ecosystems: Sydney, Australia, has been a leader in the promotion of public data as a common resource for smart city developers, as has Singapore.
  • Consumer-driven application development: Creating open “sandbox” environments is a key to creating and prototyping applications that a city’s residents would find useful, many involving existing services like public transportation “powered” by advertising.
  • IoT and sensor-based platforms: Established technology and device exporters such as Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are investing heavily in sensor- and device-based management to detect leaks, theft, or security breaches and to facilitate better, more personalized services for all consumers.
  • Cashless economies: Efforts to migrate transaction payment to mobile platforms or frictionless card- or chip-based applications are emerging in Singapore, Taiwan, and India, and are growing particularly fast in China.
 
According to the report, while smart city initiatives are taking place across the world, there are two factors that make Asian smart city projects unique. “Asian governments and businesses are in many ways more willing to invest in experimental models that exploit new technologies, business models, and urban planning design, with ‘anchor’ service sectors such as health care that can serve wider communities,” the report explains. “Municipal governments in Asia are also engaging the private sector in uniquely collaborative ways to build smart cities, based on a ‘value exchange’ where firms can meet their own branding and marketing objectives, while still contributing to the efficiency and quality of public service delivery.”


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