A walking, talking city is in our near future. Could you imagine interacting with every aspect of where you live? Well that’s what a Smart City will look like. For those not familiar, Smart Cities combine the use of information and technology to more easily respond to citizens needs in a smooth and sustainable manner. As the population of U.S urban areas is looking to drastically increase within the next 20 years due to urbanization and population growth, we should look at a few smart cities abroad to see what is working.
Barcelona was one of the first cities to implement solar thermal ordinance, where it is required that solar energy supplies 60% of hot water in new buildings. They have even updated their bus network based on vertical, horizontal and diagonal routes, which has improved speed, efficiency, and service. The city has even opened the city’s information to the public, making the relationship between citizens and the City Council transparent.
Copenhagen is expected to be carbon-neutral by 2025, and already has 40% of its citizens commuting on bike. This city has even been able to send less than 2% of its waste to a landfill - as the rest is reused as heat energy or recycled. Copenhagen also uses the highest rate of wind power per unit of energy consumed.
Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and São Paulo
Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are three cities in Brazil that have become leaders in smart city sustainability. Belo Horizonte has created pedestrian-only streets, Rio massively invested in public transportation, and São Paulo has significantly increased the amount of bus lanes in their roads all while Brazil itself is positioning its cities to have some of the smartest grid infrastructure out there.
Amsterdam has taken on the challenge of redesigning the classic stadium as something more accessible, sustainable, and safe. The company Amsterdam Smart City has developed a plan to create a stadium using energy grids and improved connectivity to better control crowds and run more sustainably - and for the first time, the City of Amsterdam has signed on an innovation plan. This same company has even developed a game that teaches kids how to save energy.
What can you do?
There are a variety of steps you can do in your everyday life that to help contribute to the smart city movement. Where we are located in D.C., there are programs such as Going Green DC to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your home’s efficiency, the Capital Bikeshare program, and events such as Smart Cities Week to become even more involved.