You may have heard the phrase ‘Smart City’ bandied around more frequently in recent years, as interest in niche aspects of digital disruption expand further into the mainstream. But what makes a city ‘smart’, in 2021 and beyond?
Here we explore what it means for a city to be ‘smart’, and the crucial role that automotive-related innovations play in the development of smart cities. We look at the transportation facet of building a smart city and how these automotive-related innovations can enhance the lives of the local population. We also share some insights from our Talent Director, John Martin.
What is A Smart City?
We live in a digital world. Our dependence on technology (in all senses of the word) is constantly on the rise, from a reported increase in wearable devices to our increased reliance on AI tools to solve everyday problems.
But what about when digital infrastructures become physical structures? Queue, the Smart City.
World Economic Forum (WEF) notes that the term ‘smart city’ is fluid by definition. Instead, it can be viewed as ‘a concept that was devised at the advent of the internet of things (IoT).’
Broadly, a city is ‘smart’ when it aims to improve ‘the provision and development of urban services through the use of digital technology.’ Aspects that can be automated, digitised and centralised to make a city ‘smart’ include everything from public safety and transportation infrastructures, to healthcare and the improvement of local organisations and institutions.
Commenting on the broad definition of ‘smart city’, our Talent Director John Martin notes:
“Smart cities as a topic covers many different branches including Energy & Utilities, Transport, Buildings & Infrastructure, Environment; it’s a world within itself.
These smart cities — built on ICT frameworks - not only address, but also aim to support the world’s growing list of challenges related to urbanisation.
Made up of intelligent networks of connected objects, devices, and machines, data is transmitted wirelessly throughout the infrastructure to offer seamless, instantaneous actions.”
Referencing the inaugural IMD Smart Cities Index— which assesses ‘how well cities are adopting digital technologies and improving the lives of the people who live there’—WEF note that in terms of the ‘built environment’, smart cities also focus on how well a city maintains its green spaces.
People: The Heart of a Smart City
The positive impact that any given technology put in place has on the local population - and the improvements it can make to their everyday life - is what really makes a city ‘smart’.
As our Talent Director John Martin notes:
“Smart Cities enable the citizens within them to engage with their ecosystems via their smartphones, connected vehicles and smart homes, ultimately cutting costs and improving the sustainability of that city.”
It is the effect that the technology and the technological infrastructures put in place have on people that is important. It is all about making crucial aspects of life such as energy, connectivity and mobility more accessible, sustainable, and affordable for all.
On the benefits, John Martin notes:
“Just some of the benefits that come out of making a city ‘smarter’ include improvements in the distribution of energy, lowered traffic congestion, and in turn, a reduction in emissions.
Improving air quality is one the key facets of, and an example of how a city can be made ‘smart’ through connected intelligent technologies which give us the tools to measure, update, and evolve our actions and the consequences human activity has on an environment.
It is all very exciting considering that Analysts predict 66% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050.”
Mobility: The Backbone of a Smart City
An organised, streamlined transportation system is the beating heart of any city. One of the aspects that make a city ‘smart’, is optimising transportation systems through interconnected technology. As WEF notes, improving urban and transportation services through digital transformation ‘is a huge industry, dominated by the likes of Cisco and IBM’.
Exploring how this interconnection of technology and transportation can be optimised to benefit the local population, WEF provides some solid examples of a Smart City in action. This can be anything from automated, perfectly timed public bus announcements, free WiFi across an entire city, and parking tickets being automatically deducted from bank accounts.
Another example of a Smart City in action, is Singapore. The city state has come out on top of IMD’s inaugural Smart City Index for the past couple of years and shows no sign of slowing down as the leading innovator in the space. Here, the city’s smart traffic cameras ‘restrict traffic depending on volume, and ease the commute of thousands of passengers every day’.
Moreover, its expansion into the autonomous vehicle space is remarkable. As Autonomous Vehicle International notes, at the end of 2019 Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) expanded the zones in which AV companies were able to test their self-driving vehicles, now covering all of western Singapore.
What Do Xcede Know about Smart Cities?
Xcede have been a lead recruiter of choice to several organisations driving change in the exciting space of Smart Cities. We’ve supported programmes in Copenhagen, London, Barcelona and Singapore, partnering with our clients to identify and attract the best talent to meet the demands of their major projects.
More recently, for example, we have been working alongside an industry powerhouse, responsible for an “Innovation District” in what is often labelled the “smartest city in the world”.
Speaking about the project, John Martin notes:
“Our mandate was simple, identify the industry’s leading experts to execute the creation, design and soon-to-be installation of a city-wide Sensors implementation.
These incorporate Intelligent Traffic Systems, Connected Traffic Lights, Connected Cars, Electric Vehicle Charging, Smart Waste & Utilities Management and even citizens device connectivity and digital ID’s.”
Want to learn more about how Xcede can help you obtain the best talent to meet the demands of your project? Get in touch with our Autonomous driving jobs team today.