In Focus | Technology Leads the Way to Boost Smart City Development

2024-06-12 16:42:20

As urbanization accelerates, traditional cities face a series of challenges such as traffic congestion, environmental pollution, and resource scarcity, which not only affect the quality of life for urban residents but also pose significant obstacles to sustainable urban development.

In today’s rapidly digitizing world, traditional urban governance models struggle to meet the demands of modern cities. The continuous emergence of new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence is driving the evolution of smart cities. To this end, city administrators need to promote the deep integration of technology and urban governance, empowering cities to move towards a more intelligent, efficient, and sustainable future.

Today’s “In Focus” will focus on smart city governance solutions and introduce five outstanding initiatives that demonstrate the integration of technology and urban development.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ciudad 3D - a tool to promote urban development in the City of Buenos Aires
Deserving Initiative 2023

Ciudad 3D is a digital platform that displays in three dimensions what can be built in each neighborhood of Buenos Aires City, providing information on the makeup of each block, building plans, current construction procedures, possible impacts, the land use of each parcel, in order to guarantee greater agility in the application of the city’s Urban Code. Moreover, with the help of Ciudad 3D, the capital gains tax of each project depending on the type of building, the use and potential edification and the certificate or inspections associated with a parcel can be calculated.

As a revolutionary initiative, it implies a change of perspective in the use of digital tools that helps citizens to understand more clearly the maps of the City and also for the architects that have an improvement in their daily work. It also helps democracy, because it favors public service and access to information. To conclude, the digital platform provides the foundations for the future development of a “metaverse” city.

The team managed to reduce time and optimize resources in the approval of construction projects and the processing of government files. Regarding Ciudad 3D traffic flow, it only had 6,000 users at the beginning, but today this number has surpassed 13,000. By addressing the needs and interests of the population, the initiative contributes to the overall well-being and quality of life of the city’s residents.

Suwon, Republic of Korea: Smart Rain City
Deserving Initiative 2020

As the capital and largest city of Gyeonggi-do, Suwon enjoys a high level of industrialization and urbanization, which has also brought several consequences: the increased impermeability of the land, reduced green and water catchment areas, increased risks of inundation, and water shortages. Under this circumstance, the city rolled out the Smart Rain City Suwon initiative to reverse this trend.

This initiative witnessed the design and implementation of relevant policies and infrastructure, well informed by environmental big data analysis and resident opinions, building various rainwater recycling and reuse facilities, e.g., permeable pavements, rainwater gardens, and roadside sprinkler systems. It also focused on the smart aspect of the initiative: to combine the rainwater management system with information and communications technologies, especially the Internet of Things, and realize integrated management of Suwon’s smart city infrastructure.

The implementation of this initiative has brought about a 65% increase in rainwater permeation and a 49% decrease in surface runoffs, along with a large amount of water saved every year. Based on the smart rainwater facilities and data collected by the attached sensors, various solutions have also been developed to, for instance, reduce dust in the air and cool the city, contributing to improved air quality.

Quito, Ecuador: Eco-Efficiency tool for the Metropolitan District
Winning Initiative 2020

Transportation is one of the main factors affecting Quito’s ecological footprint. As the city expands rapidly, housing has spread densely into the surrounding rural areas and nearby urban districts, causing residents to spend more time commuting. To address this issue, Quito has implemented the “Eco Efficiency Ordinance for the Metropolitan District of Quito”, which allows for higher building construction near Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stations and soon-to-be operational metro stations, in order to optimize urban public transportation and make Quito a more compact, diverse, and efficient city.

The ordinance permits construction projects near BRT stations to increase their building heights by 50% and those near metro stations by 100%. To minimize the environmental impact of new buildings, the ordinance includes mandatory parameters such as the efficient use of natural resources like water and energy, and contributions to earthquake resistance, safety, and bioclimatic design, to ensure that new buildings reduce their carbon footprint.

In total, about 150 additional floors have been added across various projects, significantly benefiting city residents who live and work in these areas. The proximity of these buildings to public transportation systems has greatly improved mobility and access to other essential services. Additionally, this increase in population density around public transportation hubs has made the city more compact. By consolidating and developing the urban area, these projects have also slowed the expansion of well-serviced urban areas into rural and nearby city regions.

Netanya, Israel: A Breakthrough City and Serves as an Example to Many Local Authorities When It Comes to Urban Innovation
Deserving Initiative 2020

The Israeli city of Netanya brands itself as a smart city. It is constantly improving its services, developing advanced technologies, and promoting new ideas and projects on sustainability, with the ultimate purpose of raising the quality of life of the residents.

One of those is a digital literacy project backed by the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology. In an increasingly digital world, more and more government services are moved online. However, this efficiency-increasing tool can sometimes do the opposite, for those who are not learned in this technology. To solve the problem, the city has established a digital centre. Apart from basic computer knowledge and skills, the centre also teaches residents of all age how to access government services and online databases. In addition to the traditional methods, the city employs various digital channels, including the website and social media, to understand residents’ needs and fine-tune its services accordingly. 

These measures are conducive to the Netanya government achieving better reform, promoting the integration of technology and government affairs, and improving relevant systems.

Catalonia, Spain: smartCATALONIA - Scaling the Smart City Concept to a Regional Initiative
Deserving Initiative 2018

To ensure that different cities and communities align with global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and international frameworks such as the New Urban Agenda, the Catalan Government launched the SmartCATALONIA initiative.

Initiated in October 2014, this initiative aims to integrate challenges and solutions to enhance urban governance. The Catalan Government, in collaboration with various city councils, technology and research centers, industries, and solution providers, has developed a new regulatory framework for the digital economy. This framework strengthens the city’s competitive position through big data, 5G, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. Additionally, the initiative has led to the establishment of the Catalonia Smart Lab, the Smart Region Platform, and a parking application (Aparcar), significantly improving residents’ lives. The Smart Lab has introduced 15 smart projects in the region.

As of July 2018, the initiative has implemented 95 solutions in collaboration with 52 cities and 73 companies, covering areas such as collaborative work, health, social care, and transportation.