The Need for Smart Cities is Obvious

Next Generation Communications Blog

The Need for Smart Cities is Obvious

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

It goes without saying anymore that people and businesses in an increasingly connected world rely on the Internet for personal and commercial communication. We are also in the midst of a continuing migration of people are increasingly moving to cities as the world is becoming more urbanized.  What has also become clear is that cities with a smart grid and a solid IP infrastructure thrive more than cities that do not. The case for the smart city has never been stronger.

First, the demographic shift: Roughly half of the world’s population lived in an urban area in 2010. By 2050, according to the World Health Organization, nearly 7 out of 10 people will live in an urban environment. Unsurprisingly, by 2025 there will be 37 mega-cities with a population above 10 million people, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

This alone should be reason for government and industry to come together and invest in the network resources to support this city population. But there is good economic reason, too.

Cities with good broadband infrastructure reap the benefits, according to stats compiled in a recent TechZine posting, Smart cities are built on smart networks, by Marc Jadoul, Strategic Marketing Director, and Jacques Vermeulen, Director, Global Solution Leader for Smart Government, Alcatel-Alcatel-Lucent. As the authors note, a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration produces between 0.25 and 3.6 percent growth in GDP, and 80 new jobs are created for every 1,000 additional broadband users. Further, broadband is responsible for 20 percent of new jobs across all businesses, and 30 percent of new jobs in businesses with less than 20 employees.

But what does it mean to be a smart city?

First, it means having a city-net based on wireline and wireless broadband networks that give access to a high-capacity IP and optical communications infrastructure.

Second, it means investment. Smart cities invest in data centers and a government cloud, control platforms for multimedia and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

Third, once the foundation is laid, the city’s public infrastructure (including buildings, public space, roads, traffic lights, parking, etc.) is optimized for peak efficiency and environmental preservation.

“Elements like a smart grid helps reduce CO2 footprint and energy bills, and wireless sensors can continuously monitor and control pollution, lighting, and waste,” noted the Alcatel-Lucent blog post.

Fourth, entrepreneurship is leveraged to create new applications to enrich daily life of all citizens. New York City, for instance, relies upon third-party developers for apps that make its metro easier to navigate.

Participation is also key. In fact, community engagement is a crucial factor for successful smart city rollout. This includes citizen participation, feedback loops, as well as social media interaction and dedicated community portals.

The case for the smart city is obvious. But will government heed the call.

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