What are Smart Cities ?
Smart cities are a new style of city providing sustainable growth and designed to encourage healthy economic activities that reduce the burden on the environment while improving the QoL (Quality of Life) of their residents. In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent nuclear power plant accident, there is even more demand for "resilience" in this day and age.
Urbanization is an enormous global issue at the moment. Agricultural land is being converted into urbanized areas at the same pace as the rapid growth of developing nations. Social infrastructures, involving electricity (energy,) water, buildings, transportation, communications, administrative services and other elements, are indispensible factors for ensuring that the lifestyles of the people and businesses can be supported. All of these have to be established within short periods of time and in a way that makes them effectively useful in the future.
At the same time, the existing social infrastructures in developed nations are ageing in such a way that they no longer meet the requirements of modern-day lifestyles, and the time will soon come when they need to be completely revised. In addition to this, developed nations are also facing other social issues, such as reduced birthrates, the ageing of society at large, and a rapid decrease in tax revenues.
Following the same old methods to improve the QoL of residents and vitalize economic activities while at the same time solving the issues that urban areas are facing is no longer a viable option from the point of view of functionality and cost. It also goes without saying that reducing the burden on the environment through such activities as cutting back on CO2 emissions, which is a global issue, is an extremely important prerequisite. The reason for promoting the establishment of smart cities lies here: in their bid to adopt recyclable energy sources through the use of solar power and wind power, etc.
The active employment of ICT-representative technology (Information and Communications Technology) will provide smart cities with the means to solve these problems on an unprecedented scale. Establishing smart cities is not simply a question of changing the outer appearance of urban areas; it is a quest to bring innovation to the lifestyles of the residents themselves. Many of these innovations were unthinkable in the past, such as the widespread distribution of electric vehicles (EV) that can be recharged by each individual home and the batteries of which can be used to supply electricity in emergencies.
A large number of experimental projects are currently being carried out around the globe in order to discover a core model for smart cities. Each of these projects is varied and diverse, with some considering energy and others considering EVs. However, the main aim should be to consider the lifestyles of the citizens, which in the end will determine the form the cities should take. Smart cities are not something that should be tackled by just governments and corporations and then presented to residents. The general public must also be actively involved in sharing their own ideas and helping to formulate the cities by throwing their own wisdom into the pot. That is what smart cities are all about.
Click here for more information about The importance of the four-location smart city operational experiments.