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Smart Cities

Smart cities are urban areas that combine technology and data to improve the quality of life of inhabitants and visitors, increase sustainability, and create more efficient systems to be used by all. 

The smart city concept has been around since the 1970s. However, it has only recently gained significant traction due to technological advancements and the increasing focus on sustainability and efficiency.

Understanding Smart Cities

One of the critical components of a smart city is the use of technology to gather and analyse data. This data can be used to optimise city services such as transportation, energy, and waste management. 

For example, data can be obtained and processed to optimise traffic flows, reduce energy consumption, and reduce waste. This leads to a more efficient and sustainable city, which ultimately benefits the residents who live there.

Smart cities also aim to improve the quality of life for their citizens by making the city more accessible and livable. This goal is achieved by improving the city’s infrastructure and services, such as public transportation, healthcare, and education. 

For example, a smart city might have a network of sensors and cameras that monitor air quality and traffic patterns, allowing city officials to respond to problems more quickly by rerouting traffic to less congested areas. 

Origins of the Smart City

The concept of “smart cities” has existed for several decades, but it has evolved since its origins and become more widespread with recent technological advances. However, the intelligent city idea goes back to the 1970s, with Los Angeles’ first urban big data project named: ‘A Cluster Analysis of Los Angeles’.

It isn’t easy to pinpoint a single person or organisation as the originator of the ‘smart city’ term. Smart cities as a term first appeared in the 1990s and were defined with several definitions that included six dimensions to measure a smart city’s development:

· Smart people

· Smart economy

· Smart governance

· Smart mobility

· Smart life

· Smart environment

Another early pioneer in smart cities is Enrique Peñalosa, the former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, from 1998-2001 and from 2016-2019. Peñalosa introduced innovative urban development and transportation policies, including creating a bike lane network and implementing a bus rapid transit system.

In recent years, innovative city development has been driven by private sector companies, such as IBM, Siemens, and Cisco, as well as government initiatives and research organisations. For example, IBM was the first company to use the term ‘Smart City’ in their Smarter City Challenge program, which developed their centralisation of data vision of urbanisation with a security focus that crosses the world.

The Smart City Council, a global organisation focused on promoting the development of smart cities, was founded in 2012 and has become a leading voice in the field.

Overall, the idea of smart cities has been developed and shaped by several individuals, organisations, and governments over the years and continues to evolve as technology advances and urban populations continue to grow.

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