With a market expected to be worth more than $750 billion by 2020, Smart Cities are now becoming less like concepts and more like liveable, operational and successful urban environments. As countries like Denmark, USA, South Korea, Malaysia and France make huge strides towards technologically-driven ecosystems, we’re now starting to see that these transformations take more than just city-wide Wi-Fi or IoT-powered bus stops.
Whether we’re building them from the ground up or adding smart elements during construction, it’s clear that problems arise when retrofitting older or existing infrastructure with smart technology. Whereas enterprise relocations might not be driven by smart city status, the ability to work within a smart building is certainly a consideration, especially for those that operate within technical industries and sectors. When you factor in location-specific advantages such as commerce, transportation and network speeds, the need for smart-powered infrastructure can be vital to both growth and success.
As the heart of the UK’s trade and financial services industries, the City of London has several banks with surrounding businesses working closely alongside them. Whilst it’s unlikely that many will leave following Brexit, the City of London will need to retrofit its infrastructure to not only keep up with the natural progression of technology but also the requirements of those businesses based there. Looking at the wider metropolis; London is already a success when it comes to retrofitting methodology. Its transportation network, managed by Transport for London, runs a comprehensive portfolio of solutions and applications powered by big data, helping to complete more than 1 billion journeys a year.
There are times when it isn’t always necessary to completely redesign a system, rather use it in a smarter, more economical and more time-effective manner. Barcelona, for example, used to have more than 100 bus lines that ran in all directions across the city. Rather than completely redesign the network, the city cut this to a 28-line grid layout, using technology to make it more usable for passengers and more transparent for management.
Many of these approaches are based on data that a city will already produce on a day-to-day basis. Whilst it may preserve architecture and character, the ability to cope with smart city growth can be limited by pre-existing infrastructure. By incorporating smart elements during construction and expansion, a city can establish a foundation that will lead to a smarter and more forward-thinking future.