3 Ways Technology is Making Life Easier in Cities Around the World

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Condé Nast recently published its list of the World’s ‘Smartest’ Cities, and as more urban areas begin to embrace technology such as our own CityNext initiative, it becomes increasingly important for businesses to understand how “Smart Cities” work. More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas for the first time in history, and by 2050 more than 70 percent of the population is expected to live in these areas, and smart technology helps make those areas safer, smarter, healthier, and modern.

The development of technology so cities can manage growth is of ever-increasing importance. For CityNext this means doing “new with less to deliver both citizen-centric services and economic and social opportunities to citizens at scale.” And with the Internet of Things, cities can connect thousands of devices and data streams to better serve citizens. Here are three ways technology is making life easier for citizens in cities around the world.

Smoother transportation
Microsoft has worked with Manchester, England, to develop a mobile app that allows citizens and tourists to plan, manage, and enjoy their travel. The technology gives the city data that enables them to better manage road space and reduce congestion. People are able to travel more efficiently, while goods and services are delivered more quickly. And in London, the Internet of Things keeps the London Underground running smoother. One cloud-connected system connects thousands of devices and data streams across the network, so the city can spot equipment degradation in real time and fix it before it becomes an issue.
In South Korea, hybrid buses and taxis are already the norm, with Seoul having the world’s first commercial battery-powered bus. Residents living in Gumi ride on buses that can transfer electricity wirelessly as they drive along certain stretches of rechargeable road. Trams in a Seoul amusement park already use this technology, and the country hopes to increase the number of buses that are able to recharge as they go.

Greener metropolises
South Korea is also at the forefront of sustainable technology. Songdo, southwest of Seoul, is made up of 40% green space and all water is recycled. Its buildings use 14% less electricity than traditional ones, perhaps thanks to the single switch in homes and offices that can turn off appliances and air conditioning.
Intelligent software systems are also propelling Seattle’s Smart Building project. Buildings downtown are reducing power usage up to 25% with predictive analytics that allow building managers to optimize equipment for energy reduction and keep tabs on the equipment’s health, allowing them to repair or replace devices before issues arise.
Better living conditions

In Denmark, Welfare Denmark is addressing healthcare costs, in particular for aging populations, with Virtual Rehabilitation. This program, using Kinect for Windows, can recognize voice, movement, and gestures so that patients can perform physical therapy exercises in their homes while their physiotherapists can guide them and monitor their movements in real time to ensure proper form. In addition to saving on costs, the program has seen better outcomes, too.
New York City’s Hudson Yards project is aiming to improve living conditions in another way. The space is getting outfitted with sensors to better understand how urban development has an impact on waste and pollution while also monitoring air quality, noise, and energy and water consumption. But it’s hoped that analyzing this information from this one neighborhood will help the entire city manage its resources and that predictive analytics will guard against emergencies.

Learn from cities to run a better business
These smart cities aren’t built overnight. The same principle applies to your business. But what all these cities have in common is looking at long-term goals and determining how to prioritize their investments. Find what matters most to your business and start there.

Just as cities don’t necessarily start from scratch, neither does your business. Start small and build on the devices, services, and skill sets you already have. And remember to remain flexible. Processes will evolve over time as technology evolves with it. Remember to always measure your results and test and experiment with new ways of working with what you’ve got.