In the fight against climate change, some cities depend on intelligence: they are turning to so-called ‘SMART cities’, where sensors, algorithms and other intelligent designs are intertwined to minimize emissions.
Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and is responsible for 70% of CO2 emissions globally. This means that cities today have a massive impact on climate change. In the coming decades, something like this will only get worse: By 2050, the United Nations estimates an additional 2.5 billion people will be added to cities around the world, which will correspond to 68% of the population deployed around the world. cities. That’s why it’s no surprise that CO2 emissions continue to rise. But the high concentration of people at some points also brings benefits: cities can be particularly regulated by taking action against CO2 emissions. Not only does this slow down climate change, it can also dramatically increase the quality of life of residents.
A SMART CITY
Today slang is ‘SMART cities’. As a rule, this refers to cities which use a combination of data with the latest technology to improve the quality of life and make public services more efficient.
But what does this mean in reality?
One current example is that of New York City. There, the City Council has deployed sensors that automatically measure water consumption in dwellings and then sends this information to the Environmental Protection Agency. This saves the city $ 3 million a year in cost testing, informs citizens in real time about water use, and allows them to identify problems they may have with pipelines.
A similar concept is used for public transport, where buses are equipped with GPS sensors. Buses ‘talk’ with traffic lights and make them walk faster when the traffic light is green or before switching to red. This has reduced bus delays by 20% and made public transportation much more attractive in New York.
From sensors to authorities
The desire to be a ‘SMART city’ has become a goal across the globe. Modern cities like New York, London, Tokyo and Singapore invest more in this concept, but in almost every country in the world cities want this label to stick to themselves. The interpretation of what makes a city SMART varies. In many cases, they are sensors that communicate with each other, such as between buses and traffic lights, providing critical data that experts can work with. Singapore, for example, uses traffic and pedestrian data to analyze where more bus lines need to be located.
Another interpretation is the intelligent design of infrastructure that, for example, makes the city’s heating system more efficient. Barcelona, in particular, is considered a pioneer in this field. And ‘smart governance’ is often seen as part of the umbrella term of ‘SMART cities’. In Estonia, citizens can now do 99% of their administrative work digitally and 24/7, thus saving time and money.
Small steps for climate
But what do SMART cities and climate protection have in common?
The greater efficiency of SMART cities plays a key role. If traffic is managed intelligently and energy consumption is accurately measured, this helps reduce CO2 emissions. Although each measurement is only a small amount, even smaller steps are nevertheless important especially when we know how CO2 emissions are in cities around the world.
SMART cities can also help make renewable energy more attractive. Their Achilles heel is that they sometimes generate a lot, but sometimes very little energy, and it depends entirely on the wind and sun during the day. Given that excess energy storage is still not functioning properly, equilibrium cannot be achieved yet. However, in a SMART city, car washing can be done automatically, electric cars can be automatically charged especially on good or windy days, making better use of natural fluctuations. This makes renewable energy more efficient and therefore cheaper.
What is the impact of SMART cities?
Of particular importance is the combination of SMART cities and climate protection for developing countries. Metropolises in South and Southeast Asia are often the most affected by climate change, especially in megacities like Dhaka in Bangladesh. For this reason, the smart thing in SMART cities also involves reducing the effects of climate change: rising floods, extreme temperatures and high levels of air pollution can