The former Denver Mayor W. Webb said “The 19th century was a century of empires, 20th century was a century of nation states and the 21st century will be a century of cities.” Back in 1800, about 3% of the world population dwelled in cities. In 1950, the proportion increased to 29% and in 2008, it increased to 50%. By 2040, 65% of the world population will live in cities.
Currently, there are 21 megacities with over 10 million people, compared with just 3 megacities back in 1975. And by 2025, the number of megacities is expected to reach 29 with an additional five in Asia, including Shenzhen, Chongquing, Guangzhou, Jakarta, and Lahore, two in Latin American, including Bogota and Lima, and one in Kinshasa, Africa.
The economic influence of these cities is huge. The top 600 urban centers generate 60% of global GDP. In the developing world, as much as 80% of future economic growth will occur in cities.
Environmental impact, cannot be neglected here, with cities using 60% to 80% of the world’s annual energy needs. Lighting alone, represents 19% of the world’s total electricity consumption.
These are the very reasons why we need “smarter” cities. Driven by revolutionary technological advancements such as sensors, networks and engagement, we can create urban informatics in real-time. With the combination of low power sensors, wireless networks, and web and mobile-based applications, Smart Cities have arrived around the globe.
Smart Cities allow you to transform your city into a platform for sustainable growth. There are four main areas of concern: environment, safety, transportation, and utilities. In the environmental aspect, by utilizing new sensor networks, accurate monitoring of environmental conditions like pollution levels, wildlife counts, and water runoff becomes possible. In the safety aspect, structural health monitoring of buildings, bridges and dams as well as advanced warnings systems in emergency situations can now be put in place. In the transportation aspect, through sensors embedded in roadways and street lights, real-time transit and traffic can be managed for the purpose of reducing travel time and fuel inefficiencies. In the utilities aspect, a smart utility grid will empower end users to be more aware of their energy uses, and allow utility companies to deliver only as much energy or water as is required.
With cities getting smarter, they will become more livable and more responsive. Today, we are seeing only a preview of what technology could eventually do in the urban environment. And World Smart Cities.org can help you expect, what to come.