Forget about investing in modern infrastructure: building smart cities has little or nothing to do with constructing glamorous skyscrapers. By definition, smart cities are those that develop economically as well as in the quality of life of their inhabitants. This concept, described for the first time in 1999, has been more tangible than ever. According to a study carried by the United Nations, only 20 cities had more than 1 million inhabitants one century ago. Currently, there are over 450 cities with 1 million inhabitants or more or more spread around the world. This exponential growth requires improvements, and it is technology that enables the reformulation and even raising of cities capable of attending the demands of this urban exodus. or more spread around the world. This exponential growth requires improvements – it is technology that enables the reformulation and even raising of cities capable of attending the demands of this urban exodus.
According to Gartner Consulting, a smart city “is based on intelligent information exchanges that are analyzed and translated into commercial services for the citizens”. Therefore, in theory, the citizen is not just a personage in this process, but the true protagonist. Taking as reference the city of Songdo, in South Korea, which was built from scratch using the concept of smart cities, it is possible to observe the projection and existing solidification between technology and urbanism. A computer network functions as the city’s heart connecting all of its available systems (transport, energy, traffic, etc.). Furthermore, in Songdo, domestic residues are sucked directly from the residences’ kitchens, keys are things from the past: the biometrics dominates. It may not seem much, but the integration of these and other technologies brings innovation to the urban spaces creating an efficient scenario for its inhabitants.
Even if the city does not start from scratch it is possible to work out adequacies, though. Many cities around the world have adapted their structure to meet the demands of their population. In Brazil, one very successful case is the city Águas de São Pedro, in São Paulo State. Despite having just about 3 thousand inhabitants, technology companies such as Huawei and Telefonica devised a chance to project the first smart digital city in Brazil, in accordance to the smart city concept. After all, it is no wonder that among diverse technological innovations, this countryside town makes use, for example, of a widely hardwired health system with health centers using online scheduling of medical appointments and online access to the available professionals for consultations. Not to mention the sensors installed in parking lots that send information about the occupation of each parking slot in the city.
There are many indicators to show a city is intelligent and cities should accept this “condition”, if not comprehensively, in specific, more intelligent and dynamic systems, to provide facilities for their citizens. Through reformulated and integrated services, full of hyperconnectivity, smart cities integrate technologies in the most diverse areas (mobility, sanitation, public services, etc.), always searching for the best ways to make the population comfortable.