More than an expression, it is a reality: the world is not going to stop. An obvious example of this is the accelerated growth of its population and the cities of the planet.
Let’s review some numbers about it. Of the 7.2 billion people living on Earth today, an estimated 50% is concentrated in urban centers and, according to the United Nations, about 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050.
But what does this mean? Perhaps the immediate response is – chaos. And that, without the doubt, is a word that encompasses a series of problems that we have been confronting in the last decades: the energy crisis, pollution, insecurity, inefficient public services, unemployment, housing problems, deterioration in the quality of life.
However, the important thing here is not the problem. What is the solution? Cities like Tokyo, London, New York, Zurich, Paris, and Geneva are an example of the way forward. They have opted for their transformation into “smart cities,” a term that is probably familiar to them, but whose definition they may not know in detail.
The so-called “smart cities” have achieved the desired balance between innovation, sustainability, and quality of life. But what makes them intelligent? The “smart cities” apply science and technology to improve the quality of life.
They focus on developing solutions that:
– Enable sustainable development.
– They allow the optimization of energy consumption.
– Increase the quality of services such as transportation, education, health, etc.
– Increase the efficiency of resources.
– They favor citizen participation.
– Thus, indicators for measuring a city’s “intelligence levels” are mainly focused on governance, urban planning, public management, environment, social cohesion, mobility and transport, security, human well-being and economic growth.
Science is not just science when applied to improve the world
“Smart cities” use science and technology to develop solutions that solve concrete problems of society and impact on the living conditions of the inhabitants. Some examples of this to better understand the concept.
Nowadays, we have the market of light redirection films that favor the use of natural light taking it from the outside to the interior of the homes and offices. It reduces the consumption of electrical energy and providing comfort to users by achieving greater illumination and reducing the impact of UV rays.
Another significant scientific advance seeks to contribute to solving the global problem of access to water. These are polymeric coatings and coatings that extend the useful life of the infrastructure system for the distribution of vital liquid (pipes, tanks, reservoirs, pumps and valves).
And if we talk about mobility, the innovations in this sense are considerable. Ensuring the rapid and safe movement of people within and between cities has become one of the main goals of smart cities, which has been possible thanks to technologies such as retroreflective that have contributed to the proper signaling of roads.
These same technologies have also allowed a significant reduction of tractor accidents in several countries of Europe and America. Thanks to the implementation of regulations related to the use of vehicle marking tapes, it increases the visibility of the vehicles of load and reduces the accidents.
In the same way, these advances have allowed reducing the congestion in the areas of greater affluence of the cities through electronic identifiers that generate charges to the users to transit in certain hours of the day.
The installation of security cameras and sensors, as well as the development and use of mobility applications, have enabled users to obtain in real time data such as the intensity of traffic and the speed at which vehicles move.
Another relevant advance has been the electronic tolls, which allow the collection without the vehicles having to stop or slow down, thus avoiding the rows and delays associated with the traditional collection through stands. Likewise, The automatic surveillance of infractions contributes to road safety by allowing greater control of traffic laws and ensuring the proper delivery of fines to violators.
Becoming a “smart city” is not an easy task and means a great effort for the leaders of cities and countries, private enterprise, and inhabitants. The benefits they represent both economic and social and environmental are indisputable and should encourage us to accept the challenge.