Smart infrastructure and city life - More quality of life through technology

The promise of a smart infrastructure: quality of life, environmental protection and efficiency. We show which challenges have to be solved smartly

smart city, advantages and disadvantages for the city

Author: Katharina Healing

More and more people are moving to the cities - of course not without consequences. Mobility, networking, the air and the coexistence of citizens are therefore facing new challenges that need to be solved smartly. Business consulting Roland Berger and McKinsey study have evaluated which cities are facing these challenges and implementing groundbreaking concepts. In the smart cities, the daily commute times, the garbage volume, the crime, the environmental pollution and other negative factors decrease. Meanwhile, the quality of the air improves.

What does smart city mean?

Smart cities are cities that develop and implement concepts that make life in the city more livable, more environmentally friendly and more efficient. In order to identify and promote smart cities, Roland Berger refers to three overarching dimensions, twelve criteria and 31 sub-criteria. The specialists have one out of this Smart City Strategy Index (SCSI) developed. Based on this, around 150 cities around the world have now been scrutinized for the second time. McKinsey has also devoted itself to this trend-setting topic with a total of 60 applications.

Benefits of smart infrastructures

  • Less commuting time thanks to better mobility solutions
  • Better health through telemedicine and monitoring
  • More security through data-based crime predictions
  • Intelligent energy networks through automated and optimized energy use

From these studies some aspects have emerged that bring improvements for the citizens of the cities. For example, better mobility solutions promise citizens an average of 20 percent less commuting time. This includes intelligent traffic control, smart parking and real-time information for local traffic. This in turn means a lower burden on the environment.

But the health of Smart City citizens also benefits from the new concepts and innovative solutions. Telemedicine, better monitoring of infectious diseases and real-time monitoring of the chronically ill can reduce the burden of disease by 15 percent. Smart traffic light switching can also shorten the arrival time of emergency vehicles by crucial minutes. Such monitoring systems can also facilitate police work through data-based crime predictions and make residential buildings more secure through security systems.

Smart cities are also considered to be particularly environmentally friendly. Automated heating and cooling in buildings, billing based on actual amounts of waste and intelligent energy networks significantly reduce the environmental impact in cities.

Requirements for promoting a smart infrastructure

McKinsey's analyzes have shown that three prerequisites must be met in order to successfully build and expand smart cities.

  1. Technical basis that is connected by sensors, smartphones and a fast mobile and broadband network and provides raw data (open data platform)
  2. Various applications that process this raw data for citizens. For example, to translate this data into concrete warnings, real-time information or recommendations for action
  3. Use of the applications by a large number of citizens, which ultimately leads to a change in behavior within society

Although some cities are already scoring with progressive approaches, many of the strategies are still inadequately implemented, according to the study authors. Although there is no lack of ideas and strategies, there is a lack of unclear responsibilities and coordinative functions with the corresponding knowledge that drive the projects forward. A central decision-making body such as that employed by London or a Smart City Agency such as in Vienna would remedy the situation and coordinate the bodies involved.

smart city

Source & Copyright by Freepik / Macrovector

Cities in Europe with a smart infrastructure - Vienna, London, Hamburg

The study by Roland Berger Unternehmensberatung shows that the number of cities with a clear strategy towards Smart City has almost doubled. In contrast, 90 percent of all cities do not show any holistic concepts. It is becoming clear that there is still a lot of potential for smart cities. It turned out that Vienna ranks first in the world when it comes to the best smart city strategy. Austria's capital scores with innovative solutions for the environment, health, education, energy, living, security, waste and local commitment as well as in its progress monitoring of individual projects. London follows, but Asian metropolises in particular show convincing concepts. Of the German cities, only Hamburg and Berlin are in the top third of the ranking.

The biggest challenges & forecast

The problems of many large cities are often similar: long traffic jams, limited living space and increasing environmental pollution. Close cooperation between city administrations, companies and citizens is necessary for the implementation of smart city strategies to improve the quality of life in concrete terms. More and more applications are being promoted by private actors, some of whom contribute more than half of the total investment in the projects.

All in all, it can be said that cities with a high per capita income are ahead with the use of Smart City projects. Chinese metropolises such as Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai are also investing heavily. In a global comparison, German metropolises score below average in terms of social acceptance, while Asian cities with young and technical solutions encounter a significantly more open-minded society.

If you follow past developments, you can make forecasts for a growing smart city movement. Especially in times when urban space is expanding and the focus is on efficiency, quality of life and environmental protection, further smart city strategies are required and above all one thing - their clearly regulated implementation.

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