Putting the "Smart" in Smart Cities

Cities all over the world are beginning to deploy smart technologies to improve connectivity, workability, and livability.

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As the world’s population grows, resources become limited. In places like cities—where career, education, and cultural opportunities attract many people already—further congestion can make day-to-day logistics feel cumbersome and inefficient. Forecasts suggest urban populations are on the rise. By 2050, the world will add almost 2.5 billion urbanites due to population growth and rural-to-urban migration.

Fortunately, smart electronics and communications devices have helped increase people’s access to tools and services, inform more efficient decisions, and keep people connected while physically away from their social circles. Since these devices help organize, connect, and streamline aspects of people’s lives, it only makes sense to merge them with the enriched epicenters in cities. Making cities more adaptive to the people in them is necessary since experts estimate that 68% of the world’s growing population will live in urban areas by 20501.

This introduces the idea of a smart city, where buildings, cars, appliances, and infrastructure connect and communicate like smart devices. This expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), or the number of connected devices, will help influence and enhance the performance and logistics of urban life. It’s no longer a future-thinking aspiration and is more of a realistic feat, as the network needed to support smart city bandwidth, 5G connectivity, is on the horizon.

5G Connectivity Powers Smart Cities

For a smart city to truly be interconnected, it depends on fast mobile wireless networks, the latest in-building wireless technologies, and a network that can process and store millions of pieces of data at a type. That data will be generated by a vast network of IoT devices—whether it’s a cell phone, kitchen appliance, traffic light sensor, or remote medical device. Analysts believe that we’ll see almost 39 billion connected devices globally by 20252.

These networks and devices will collect and analyze data that can help improve societal safety, health, and efficiency. Smart cities have many ways to apply this data and make major improvements for people’s well-being and general productivity.

1. Maddox, Teena. “Smart Cities: A Cheat Sheet.” TechRepublic, 16 July 2018.
2. “IoT connected devices worldwide 2030”, Statista Research Department, 19 February 2020, https://www.idc.com/tracker/showproductinfo.jsp?prod_id=1843.
3. “Worldwide Smart Cities Spending Guide”, International Data Corporation, https://www.idc.com/tracker/showproductinfo.jsp?prod_id=1843.