A Smart City?

22 March 2013 – 6:33 am

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Smart City is an increasingly banded around term in green, technology and property circles. Entering the business lexicon in common parlance a couple of years ago, Smart City, is no longer a sole use term of the Phd bio-chemistry fraternity.

Smart City references the city of the future where ‘everything’ will communicate with each other. In practice this means for example, the electric car will know where the free parking spaces are, when it needs to re-charge, where it will go to attain this, how long it will need to be there, the optimum time to do this regarding cost. Power is generally cheaper at night, when demand is less. The technology can also learn the user’s behaviour pattern, say, on a Friday the user commutes three times further than usual for a regular work meeting. The energy implications of this longer than usual journey will all be part of the Smart City calculations.

Think of it as the fusion between technology, transport, buildings and humans.

Cisco is one of the well known players which has been keen to be associated with the Smart City movement and has published various papers to this end.

Generally, there is still some confusion as to who the stakeholders are and who will pay for the various elements. One thing is a trial project, another is looking to provide a service to 10 million plus city inhabitants. It is in the town council’s interest to make the metropolis more efficient and encourage these futuristic measures, but where will this new budget come from? Will an increased perception of the town offset the significant infrastructure investment? To be blunt, will the Smart City generate more income than its costs to develop, implement and facilitate on an ongoing basis.

Four major players sponsored a conference this week at London’s renowned riverside based Design Museum. Well attended by a range of publics, it was clear money is serious as to the importance of the Smart City. The proof will be if these money men and women open their wallets and back Smart City linked ventures.

This is no flash in the pan, but, no-one yet has a full handle on where the Smart City sector will settle and who will hold ultimate responsibility for its cost and overall management.

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