People Come First in Smart Cities of the Future

The smart city market is poised to grow to more than $158 billion by 2022.
Donna Fuscaldo

The smart city market is poised to grow to more than $158 billion by 2022 and for good reasons. 

Thanks to advances in technology residents of these global smart cities will be subjected to more efficient traffic patterns, improved air quality, better response times to emergencies and optimal energy consumption. 


People at the heart of smart cities

“Technology is bringing unprecedented changes to our society at a rapid pace,” said Park Won-Soon, the mayor of Seoul, which has the highest internet penetration in the world and is the first city to launch 5G and actively use it to service its residents. “Smart city  Seoul aims to achieve people-centered sustainable innovations.”

The Mayor of Seoul was among a panel of smart city experts to discuss the future of these cities during a presentation at the CES tech show

At the heart of these smart cities are the people living in them. In order for these cities to work panelists including, Tom Prey, the founder of Wayfindr/Waymap, a tech startup that uses technology to help the visually impaired navigate, said it has to work for the people.

Take the blind for one example. With Wayfindr’s technology, blind people can navigate a smart city just like anybody else and in a safe way. Giving them the same independence that people without a disability enjoy. 

AI needed to create these smart cities

In order to create a city that works for its residents, advanced technologies like AI need to be part of the planning stage. Building a smart city from scratch can be made better when there is more data involved.

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Magic Leap uses AI and advanced technologies to merge data with the physical world, giving city planners more insight into development before, during and after. “The ability to digitize and visualize data on top of Seoul or Los Angles...can help improve the lives of the people in those cites,” said Omar Kahn, Chief Product Officer at Magic Leap during the presentation. 

Meanwhile, Laura Schewel, co-founder and CEO of Streetlight Data said using data can help cities understand the behavior of transportation in a much more meaningful way. “Infrastructure decisions last decades,” said Schewel, noting if you put a bike lane in you want to make sure it's in the right location. 

Schewel pointed to a case study in Toronto. The city had done a lot to add trams, sidewalks and bike lanes to the downtown area yet they didn't see car driving decrease. They hypothesized that was because many of the city’s workers came from suburbs which required them to drive in and were then less inclined to take public transit while in the city. Data was able to confirm that and the city added four commuter rails direct to downtown to reduce car usage in the city. 

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