Are Smart Cities Making Our Lives Better?

by John Radtke

Are Smart Cities Making Our Lives Better?

When I was a kid, I would watch many science fiction movies. When I got older, I dreamed of having a flying car and living above the clouds in my tower home. It’s 2021, and intelligent cities are here. But, no one has a flying car or lives in a tower above the clouds. So, ask yourself a question if you do live in a smart city. Is your life better? For those who don’t live in a smart city, what are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a smart city?

First, the advantages of a smart city:

  1. Effective, data-driven decision-making: To run a city is no easy task. Planning for future growth and how to support a new influx of people takes data. That’s where big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer endless possibilities to enable more decisive decision-making. This, in turn, enhances the lives of residents by cutting costs and improving services.
  2. Enhanced citizen and government engagement: People who live in cities expect their cities to deliver robust, user-friendly digital services: collaboration tools, modern and intuitive websites, mobile applications, self-service portals, and convenient online accounts. Governments need to expand digital services in communities to make smart cities a more attractive place for residents to live and promote a connected citizen experience.
  3. Safer communities: Many cities have already started investing in smart technologies to help promote a safer community. Using additional security means like cameras, apps, and connected community websites have helped lower crime in many cities.
  4. Reduced environmental footprint: Pollution and air quality continue to cause issues for citizens since medical problems related to a pollution claim millions of lives each year. However, energy-efficient buildings, air quality sensors, and renewable energy sources provide cities with new tools to shrink their ecological impact. These improvements help cities save lives and help improve quality of life.
  5.  Improved transportation: This is a huge issue for cities that have a dreaded traffic jam. New smart technologies such as intelligent traffic signals optimize traffic flow, relieving congestion during peak travel times. Other smart transportation technologies, such as smart parking management, allow cities to capitalize on additional revenue streams.

Disadvantages of smart cities:

  1. Cities find it challenging to work across departments and boundaries: What’s the biggest problem with government. First, bureaucracy grinds everything to a halt. Second, it’s hard to have all different departments have the right people, training, knowledge, and budgets to support smart cities, which leads to a slowdown in implementing technology.
  2. Not fully understanding the value and benefits which the data: A connected experience means tons of data points. What does one do with the data if they don’t understand the importance of data? To make the city smarter, you have to analyze and interpret data. This takes the time and people to validate and implement the data to improve a citizen's experience.
  3. Privacy issues: This is a big one. Having your data, information, and whatever else they collect about you is frightening. People are willing to give up some privacy to feel safe but not all their data. So it’s critical to understand how the government can use your data.
  4. Security: In the news, there have been more ransomware attacks costing companies millions. What if a group of hackers decides to ransomware a city. The impact would be devastating. This needs to be top of mind of how your smart city is going to be supported.
  5. Properly trained people: Smart city adoption requires knowledge of different technologies to use it. Without training, people find it irrelevant to their daily lives and challenging to use. A city needs to find and train the people properly to handle the inevitable issues that will pop up. A city's heartbeat is its people, and it always is.

If we ever want to have flying cars and cities in the clouds. We need to work together to discover the best ways to make cities that are worth living in.

John is the sales/marketing manager at Cygnus and has over twenty years of customer service experience. John is passionate about helping businesses give a superior customer experience.

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