Everywhere around the world, people are moving to the cities in large numbers. We are dealing with an unprecedented rate of urbanisation. Did you know that in the year 1800, only 2% of the world’s population lived in the cities? The worldwide number of city dwellers is increasing at a rate of 1,5 million per week. The expectation is that by 2030, as much as 60% of the world population can call themselves ‘urbanites’. This urbanisation is an important development from an economic point of view, but of course it goes hand in hand with (negative) societal consequences.

An increase in environmental pollution and criminality, but also an increasing demand for better infrastructure and for an agreeable environment are all examples of things caused by urbanisation. So what is a ‘Smart City’ in this context? A ‘Smart City’ is a city where residents, organisations and the city council use technology to find clever ways to resolve the increasing problems of an increasingly densely populated city. Together they try to make their city a safe, sustainable, palatable and easily accessible metropolis. It’s an arrangement that’s all about data, information, and most of all about the exchange of data and information, and its valuable uses in everyday life. 

An example of a ‘Smart City’ is the city of Songdo, South Korea. In 2001, hardly anybody had ever heard of Songdo, but today it’s considered the city of the future. What makes Songdo interesting is the way it mimics the best features of other cities around the world. For example, it has a reconstructed Central Park, but it also has the canals of Venice. But that’s not all: the city uses data to optimise the quality of life of its denizens. Information such as parking spot availability or energy consumption per building or per household are measured and kept track of, and the amount of rubbish people throw out can be charted too. Knowledge is power, and this information enables specific planning, making logistic issues a thing of the past; that’s what we call a ‘Smart City’. 

A pipe dream? Not at all: this is already a reality. More and more cities in the Netherlands too are distinguishing themselves as Smart Cities. The local fire brigade uses real time risk analyses based on public sources, and the police department has set up several Real Time Intelligence Centres.

Whether Smart Cities are the future is still an open question. There is a fair number of disadvantages involved too. Think of the consequences these measures have for society: to create a pleasant, safe, sustainable, easily accessible, high quality city, its inhabitants will need to give up some of their privacy.

Would you like to know more about the development, consequences, advantages, applications and trends of Smart Cities? NewTeam has a large network of experts on Smart Cities at its disposal. Each of them is available as a speaker, consultant, day chair, guest lecturer or jury member. Do you know what you want, or are you still thinking about it? Either way, you can contact us by e-mail or give us a call.