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Photo: Rex Dong
The United Nations has projected that 66 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban cities by 2050 with Asia being a major driving force behind this phenomenon. In 1950, only 17 percent of the Asian population lived in urban areas. By 2030, more than 55 percent of the population will be urban. This amounts to an increase of the total urban population in Asia from 232 million people to 2.7 billion.
Today, Asia is already home to some of the largest cities in the world: Tokyo – 38 million inhabitants, Delhi – 25 million inhabitants, Shanghai – 23 million inhabitants, and Mumbai – 21 million inhabitants. With the unprecedented growth in urbanisation, governments are under constant pressure to develop infrastructure and implement policies that can lead the way towards economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies.
Technology has been the cornerstone in aiding country leaders towards this admittedly lofty goal. In fact, Navigant Research forecasts that annual smart city technology investment in Asia Pacific will almost quadruple by 2023, reaching US$11.3 billion.
But what is a smart city? It is a question that both the public and private sectors have been grappling to answer, especially within the past five years. A broad definition of a smart city refers to a metropolitan area that uses technology to make life better for its residents.
Digging deeper, Frost & Sullivan surmises that smart cities will be measured on the level of intelligence and integration of infrastructure connecting sectors of healthcare, energy, buildings, transportation and governance.
Regardless of definition, most experts agree that there will be a marked increase in the number of data-generating devices and applications — surveillance cameras, sensors, location-based apps and services — that collect information from and about the metropolis to give its leaders a pulse of the city to help them determine if implementation or policy changes are required.
Storing and using the Internet of Things
Smart city initiatives worldwide are increasingly focused on the Internet of Things, or IoT, and local governments are competing to build innovative and sustainable cities with it. In fact, IDC says that local governments will represent more than 25 percent of all government external spending to deploy, manage, and realise the business value of the IoT by 2018.
What does the IoT look like? Take video surveillance for example, that can automatically transmit information about a traffic hazard to another system, which can then instantaneously advise drivers in the area to take an alternate route. Other connected transportation systems (rail, subway, air) within a city or region, even nationally, can also adjust and improve their efficiency accordingly, and benefit from an orderly system of instantaneously transmitted machine-to-machine transactions that helps the public move around smoothly.
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