Smart city solutions and living labs for increased liveability

The challenge
Cities account for 70 percent of global CO₂ emissions today. As the pace of urbanisation only quickens, cities face immense challenges related to sustainable waste and water management, mobility, climate adaptation and energy. To overcome city challenges, cities need smart solutions to ensure that they are optimised for sustainable economic activity, energy consumption and positive environmental impacts.

The future
Digital technology, both ICT and IT, enable smart city solutions that fuel sustainable development. With the pace at which technology and digitisation is developing, adopting smart city solutions has never been more viable. For many years, cities have applied digital technology to solve major metropolitan challenges, however the rate at which this adoption takes place is rapidly increasing.

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Increased global urbanisation requires new and smarter approaches to solving challenges related to waste management, water management, sustainable mobility, green buildings, heating and cooling and clean air in cities in a cost-effective manner. To foster smart city solutions, a solid foundation of basic digital structures have to be in place. This includes infrastructure, data hubs for data sharing and standards for data security and privacy.

With the rapid spread of digital technologies in cities comes increased generation of real-time data, often referred to as big data, from IoT sensors, network remote control and automation systems. By analysing the data, it is possible to extract value on energy consumption patterns, the amount of waste in garbage bins, traffic flows and air pollution, to name but a few. Combining various data sets can potentially foster innovation in new services that would not have been identified without the access to data. Living labs also support the development of smart city solutions. Here, new technology within energy, environment, mobility and air quality is tested with the aim of optimising the solutions before implementing them in real societies. Digital technology is tested in user-centred, transparent ecosystems, allowing citizens, public institutions and private actors alike to contribute to the development and exploration of emerging, smart city solutions.

However, digital, smart city solutions are not the only method to solve the challenges in cities. City solutions can also be approached from a low-tech perspective, as seen in various climate adaptation and retrofitting buildings projects. Combining data-driven urban water management solutions with low-tech water solutions such as cleaning the harbour in a city will help increase citizens’ quality of life. Sustainable mobility solutions can both involve traffic monitoring, based on big data, as well as improvements in the bicycle infrastructure to encourage citizens to choose the bike as their preferred mode of transport. Some cities get caught up in simply focusing on the digital aspect of city solutions, sometime loosing track of the actual purpose of developing the solutions. It is therefore essential to remember that creating smart cities driven by digitisation is not an aim in itself. Digitisation is only the means with which to achieve a city’s goals of increased liveability, sustainability and economic growth.

Connect with us: Anne Bollerup, Project Manager, abj@stateofgreen.com