Tag Archives: traffic

Connected cities are needed to survive the urban growth

The UK government wants the UK to be the technology centre for Europe this year. But to achieve this, they will have to look at every part of their economy. One area that is being closely looked at lately is our cities. To drive growth, cities need to be more connected. These highly connected cities need to be driven by super-fast connectivity and they can help drive the British innovation over the next few years.

But if the UK wants highly connected cities in the future, they need to start planning things now. And they already have been thinking about this. An example is the Intel Collaborative Research Institute (ICRI) for Sustainable Connected Cities. ICRI is a joint effort between two of London’s top universities: University College and Imperial College London.

Social, economic and environmental challenges need to be tackled and it’s up to this new institute to investigate how technologies can help tackle these issues. They want London to become a ‘smart city lab’ and they want to create a blueprint for ‘connected cities’ in the UK.

So the researchers of this new institute will investigate some of the new intelligent technologies to use on our cities. An example is the network of sensors that can be used to quickly access data on trends for traffic, pollution and water supply. If they have all this data, they can analyze it to see how well the city is operating. Norway already has a centralized data platform like this called ‘CityData’.

A real-life application of this can be the traffic monitoring. Traffic congestions can be monitored and analyzed to develop smart transport timetabled and alerts. Councils could start to target areas to send more wardens, re-route traffic or provide warnings on mobile apps.

But this can only work when you have a huge amount of data at hand. So the right tools and bandwidth need to be in place first before you can start capturing and carrying these high volumes of information. When the connectivity isn’t restricted to just big businesses but to all of the city, innovation and growth can be stimulated and can flourish.

So using data more wisely is a very good new innovative approach to cities. London is already embracing this with as an example the London Gird for Learning (LGFL). All 33 London local authorities are involved in LGFL, and it’s making the most out of a dedicated public services network. It’s already providing schools with new technologies like e-learning tools such as video conferencing, virtual learning platforms and podcasts.

By 2050, there will be about nine billion people on this world, and most of them will be living in urban spaces. If cities don’t prepare systems to manage every aspect of the way a city operates, they will be challenged in all sorts of ways.  So cities need to start investing today in forward-thinking research and super-fast connectivity that will make the ‘connected cities’ reality.

Breaking Out of the Silo

There has been talk of changing the way we live in order to benefit both the planet and each other for many years. Countless schemes have been created to reduce carbon emissions, increase solar energy, encourage the use of public transportation, increase child safety and boost quality of life for all. But these schemes have all been run independent of each other, the so-called silo structure. However, it’s fast becoming clear that this method simply does not work. The Smart Cities venture combines all of these aspects, with the overall aim of using technology to improve life. However, ICT analyst Ovum suggests that the move to smarter, ICT literate cities is slower than we would have hoped.

“While most of us live in cities, moves to integrate the technologies that link us all, to create a better standard of living, are being stymied by a lack of resources and poor planning.”

While suppliers have been able to develop technology to aid with almost any aspect of life, from crime to traffic, the implementation stage may be what causes the most difficulty. While the physical aspect of putting into place the hardware, such as sensors, that is needed may be a time consuming process, it is the changing of people’s minds and behavior patterns that is set to cause the most difficulty.

The Smart City initiative needs to find a way to foster collective action to improve social interactions. This is just one of the topics to be discussed during the Smart Cities Europe conference due to be hosted early this week.