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Smart Cities - the only viable option to address future urban growth?
Trowers Public Insight

Smart Cities - the only viable option to address future urban growth?

Some of the statistics with regards to Smart Cities and the potential opportunities they offer are staggering.

Whilst there can be significant variations in terms of those statistics depending on the source: there is consensus that urban populations are growing at an unprecedented pace. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, 6.25 billion people will live in urban areas.  This is a 60% increase from current figures.

Others suggest the figure could be up to 7 billion which is the entire world's current population. Whatever the figure is, there is one undeniable truth that cities will need to adapt to deal with these demographic shifts and will be at the forefront of social change.

Urban population growth combined with pressure on resources, economic uncertainty and environmental factors that are outside everyone's control, place further pressure on our cities but make it ever more important that strategies are put in place now to ensure that sustainable systems are established to deal with these demands.

  • Cities will need to be better connected,
  • allow for energy to be better utilised,
  • employ space and the built environment in ever more imaginative ways
  • whilst still being enjoyable places to work and live.

And that last point is crucial because cities are about their citizens, and Smart Cities are all about creating citizen centric environments.

What a Smart City is or could be is difficult to define because citizens' demands vary and accordingly the relevant parameters are in a state of flux.

Even BIS concluded that:

"there is no absolute definition of a Smart City, no end point but rather a process or a series of steps by which it has become more liveable and resilient and hence able to respond quicker to new challenges.  It brings together hard infrastructure, social capital  and digital technologies to fuel sustainable economic development and provide an attractive environment for all."

The broad nature of the topic is evidenced in our experiences and the conversations we are having include:

  • digital technology projects (including the ramifications of the Internet of things),
  • energy projects (particularly relevant as cities are the major consumers of energy produced globally),
  • the built environment,
  • sophisticated intelligent transport systems, and
  • appropriate waste a management systems and pressures on housing.

Given all the facets of a Smart City, the number of issues that need to be addressed as part of the agenda is infinite.

But as with all matters where change is a necessity rather than an option, all such challenges will need to be addressed.


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