This is just a sneak peek from Anne and Marta’s feature in SCENARIO 3:2014. If you are not a current subscriber to SCENARIO or a member of The Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, then subscribe or get in touch with us here.
Smart seems to tie itself to anything from mobile phones and homes to cars and cities. It covers things like integrated information and communication technology, nanotech surface treatments, sustainable infrastructure, and flexible economy. The label ‘smart’ indicates that things are adaptable and that they – connected with other things in networks – react to or sense their surroundings.
The ‘smart’ in smart cities is a combination of the dream of the perfect, self-managing city, IT (intelligence and sensors) everywhere, and communication between all things. This means smart sensor technology integrated in everything from office products to infrastructure, with the collected information becoming Big Data that is saved and communicated back in and from the Cloud.
The complete smart cities of the future have sensors on every surface. The sensors collect data about everything from energy consumption, pollution, traffic, and waste distribution to wastewater and rainwater, and this data feeds into server algorithms that calculate the smartest way of handling wastewater or the most efficient and flexible infrastructure planning.
Through a symbiosis of sensors (‘intelligence everywhere’) and communication with the cloud network, the city learns through algorithms to reason and interpret the world, in other words becoming self-managing. Most importantly, the city can now adapt to the changing environment. For instance, traffic lights or window shutters can react to changing weather and traffic conditions, just as the floor of a public restroom can inform when it needs to be cleaned. Flexibility, functionality and efficiency are automatically improved for almost all things. It is then that the city has become a smart city. However, the idea of the perfect, self-managing city is far from new.
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