Sunday, October 2, 2022

What will post-pandemic smart cities look like?

What post-pandemic smart cities will look like

Post-pandemic smart cities will not be the same. Not because they’ve changed over the few months of COVID-19 – though they have – but because we have become more aware of what has been missing. The pandemic has triggered interest by both policy makers and everyday citizens in integrating personal and civic IoT products, collecting data, and drawing actionable insights to better run our ever-growing urban environments.

More pressingly, people have been using monitoring and data collection technologies to navigate the pandemic carefully. People want to know if the grocery store is absolutely packed in case they need to go for a grocery run. People want to check which roads lead through areas with high infection rates so they can avoid it.

Likewise, governments want to be able to track, trace and retrace the origin and path of a viral infection so that they can react accordingly. China famously used contact tracing apps to reduce virus clusters and keep the pockets of infected communities from spreading the virus without having to shut down the entire economy.

Currently, there are 27 cities worldwide that can be classified as ‘Smart’, but smart city global market value is projected to reach about 2.4 trillion by 2025. It’s a megatrend that is fast emerging.

The implications of post-pandemic smart cities go beyond just virus control. Security, emergency response, and early warning systems can all be revolutionized by advancing IoT and data curation and management. An ambulance for example, if connected to the city’s network of sensors can immediately tell the fastest way to get to a caller. If it were self-driving, even better.

With a proper user friendly interface, anyone can do the same. This can have environmental impacts due to less traffic congestion overall as people take the most efficient routes. Smaller things like smart fridges that stop using so much energy when it is cold enough, then start back up, saving energy, or lights that turn off when no one is in the room and vice versa. Smart energy allocation is among the new generation’s biggest concerns; hopefully, more people will support efforts to drive this transformation.  

The pandemic has revealed that smart cities need a reevaluation. The way post-pandemic smart cities are to be constructed will reflect a more aware, environmentally conscious society – applying and sharing the lessons learned from the challenges we face.