What makes a city “smart”? Smart cities have a variety of ways to collect data about the city, including traffic patterns, use of public spaces and attributes that make life easier for the people who live or visit that city. They can then use that information to continuously improve. For example, city planners can monitor traffic and transportation systems and reduce travel times, bottle necks and accidents. Engineers can improve city systems like water supply networks and waste management, and city governments can ensure services like law enforcement, education and medical facilities are best situated to respond to demand. Smart cities are more sustainable, with less fuel and energy waste as daily challenges of transportation and navigation are improved. They also provide improved online access to governmental services and a high level of citizen participation.
British Columbia is a leader in smart city development, and is collaborating with partners around the globe to implement and improve infrastructure that capitalizes on the data already being collected.
The Government of Canada has announced the launch of the Smart City Challenge
to encourage communities to leverage technology and improve quality of life and business. The pan-Canadian competition is open to communities of all sizes, and encourages communities to “adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology”. This project is part of the Government of Canada’s Impact Canada Initiative, a program that focuses on tackling economic, environmental and social problems.
The Smart Cities Council
is a network of leading companies advised by top universities, laboratories and standards bodies which acts as a trusted, neutral advisor for communities looking to incorporate smart city technologies. They assess cities on livability, workability and sustainability. Livable cities have digital infrastructures which make city services more available and therefore improve living conditions. Workable cities have comprehensive electricity, connectivity, computing and essential services. Sustainable cities provide all these services without “stealing” from future generations, meaning their energy comes from sustainable and renewable resources. The Council offers resources to help cities assess their emergency preparedness and measure progress, as well as guides for financing improvements. They provide examples of policies that promote economic development and advice on campaigns to promote events where cities and citizens can learn about creating smart cities.
Data collection for smart cities is next-level city planning. It requires having a network of devices that report out on things such as traffic congestion, underutilized infrastructure or peak conditions for certain activities.
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