The Promise of Smart Cities

August 25, 2020

Smart cities are on the rise and hold promises to improve the lives of residents.

Traffic Efficiency

Smart cities promise to improve traffic flow with smart traffic lights that monitor and manage congestion. Smart roads detect vehicles, alert drivers and reroute traffic around accidents, weather or construction hazards. Many smart cities are in stages of testing autonomous vehicles for public transport as means to improve traffic congestion and safety.

Cleaner Streets

Cities are plagued with accumulated waste and air pollution. Smart waste management involves a connected system of smart trashcans that automatically sort waste and alert waste management services when they are full. This prevents the issue of overflowing trash and improves waste management efficiency.

IoT allows city management to monitor air pollution, identify problem areas and enact initiatives to improve air quality. This might involve traffic management or increasing green spaces. Collected data can also be made available to residents, allowing them to avoid hot spots until issues are resolved.

Lower Unemployment

Smart cities promise lower unemployment through job creation, specifically the need for technicians and engineers in smart technologies. Improved social infrastructures such as schools, libraries, public internet access and public transportation also offer greater employment opportunities. Smart cities boost small businesses and entrepreneurs with IoT tools to manage assets and digitally engage customers.

Lower Crime Rates & Improved Public Safety

Cameras and microphones placed around a city detect and record crime in addition to automatically alerting authorities. Facial recognition aids authorities in catching suspects. Swift crime solutions serve as crime deterrents and maintain safety when crime does occur. Greater employment opportunities and improved social infrastructures also contribute to crime reduction.

Smart streetlights monitor environmental factors that could lead to heatstroke, earthquakes or other dangers and alert residents. They deploy alerts in the case of crime or can simply show responsive light at night, improving public safety.


Automated technologies allow a city to self-repair and maintain. Drones detect defects in infrastructure or electrical appliances and make repairs without human input. They can also be employed in waste management or crime surveillance. Autonomous vehicles may self-manage public transportation and waste pick up and disposal. These features contribute to a city’s overall operational efficiency and reduce energy requirements.

Smart cities can also generate and control their own energy. Smart roads collect energy for city use through the friction of moving vehicles or solar panels. Smart energy grids route this energy to specific areas of need. Smart girds also detect power outages and route energy around them, ensuring the power always stays on and surges of power are used rather than wasted.

Privacy Concerns

Data collection serves an important role in smart cities by providing greater efficiency and improved services. However, there are concerns regarding who controls this data, what aspects are being collected and stored, if data will be sold to third parties and the ramifications of network attacks. These concerns will need to be addressed as smart cities continue to develop and residents consider the trade-off of improved services.