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Many towns and cities have dubbed themselves a “smart city.” But what, exactly, does that mean? And what does that mean for the future of those cities and the people who reside within them? Let’s first define what a smart city actually is. 

In short, a smart city uses information and communication technology to improve operational efficiencies, share information with the community, and offer a better quality of government services to its citizens. The goal is for these technologies to improve city functions and address challenges, while promoting economic growth and an improved quality of life.  

A smart city will typically include features such as an infrastructure that is built around technology, a progressive city growth plan – which includes environmental initiatives and a robust public transportation network – and to provide citizens with easy access to these resources, allowing them to live and work within the city.  

How does a smart city work? 

A smart city uses various software and user interfaces alongside the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect citizens to the deployed solutions. The IoT is a network of connected devices that exchange communications and data, and can include a wide range of devices including cars, home appliances, and even traffic cameras and sensors.  

When the data is collected and shared from connected devices, it can then be analyzed to offer city officials insight when making decisions on where to make improvements with operations, how to deliver economic benefits that boost quality of life, and so much more. 

Of course, with so many connected devices and platforms, it’s imperative that smart cities utilize an advanced, reliable network infrastructure, such as fiber optics, to ensure these services are operating optimally. A fiber-optic network provides the necessary connectivity to power smart city technologies, and is capable of handling ever-growing demands for citizens to be connected. What’s more, a fiber-optic network is immune to the effects of inclement weather, meaning your city will stay connected even during intense storms.  

Features that add value  

Smart city features are implemented with the goal of increasing operational efficiencies and economic growth, while allowing for citizens who live and work within the city to have access to many modern conveniences and safety measures. So what features can you expect to see in a smart city? 

When it comes to improving city operations and conserving energy, automation is key. Utilizing smart streetlights that dim when roadways are empty, or implementing smart grid technology to improve planning and power supplies, can optimize energy usage throughout the city. Smart buildings can offer insight into how a space is managed through monitoring activity and providing feedback to determine when repairs are needed.  

Automation also brings ease of use with city-wide services, like helping drivers find available parking, allow for digital payment, and even managing ride-share services. For drivers with autonomous vehicles, smart cities are an ideal match because they are equipped to work with many of the smart city features. For instance, connecting to street sensors that can recommend the best route to take, or providing a connection for riders to get online and take video calls with ease.  

To keep citizens safe, smart sensors can be used to monitor high-crime areas and enable early detection of weather conditions, like tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes. Intelligent intersections monitor traffic and can alert officials when there’s an accident or damage, like potholes, to offer immediate response or repair.  

Creating smart systems within a city provides benefits for its residents by offering access to many useful resources and keeping the community connected.