“Smart” Cities and the Urban Digital Revolution

Shawn DuBravac at Re/Code: “Smog, sewage and congestion are three of the hallmarks of contemporary urban living. But these downsides to city living are gradually becoming things of the past. City planners are finding new ways to address these inefficiencies, leveraging connected technology to create smarter hubs that work for city dwellers.

Welcome to the era of “smart” cities. Advances in wireless sensor systems, information and communication technology (ICT), and infrastructure allow cities to collect and curate huge amounts of data capable of sustaining and improving urban life thanks to the new and ever-growing web of connected technology: The Internet of Things (IoT).

Last year, Los Angeles became the first city in the world to synchronize its traffic lights — all 4,500 of them — reducing traffic time on major LA corridors by about 12 percent, according to the city’s Department of Transportation. In Singapore, city authorities are testing smart systems for managing parking and waste disposal to adjust to daily and weekly patterns. In New York City, mobile air pollution monitors help city leaders pinpoint those neighborhoods most affected by smog and pollutants, so residents can modify their commuting paths and preferred modes of transportation to avoid exposure to higher levels of pollution.

And cities across the U.S. — including Chicago, Seattle and Washington, D.C. — are hiring chief technology officers to oversee broad implementation of digital systems and technologies. As more and more city functions evolve from analog to digital, it makes sense for municipalities to put the improvement, functionality and security of those systems into one department. These city CTOs will quickly become indispensable cabinet positions….”

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