Getting city smarts
Smartness isn’t simply about installing digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure, or streamlining city operations. It’s to do with using technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life, says McKinsey in its Smart Cities report.
“Smart technologies change the nature and economics of infrastructure,” says the consultancy. “ They reduce the cost of gathering information about usage patterns – and with an unprecedented volume of data points in hand, city governments, employers, and residents can find new ways to optimise existing systems.”
And applications perform differently from city to city, depending on legacy infrastructure systems and on baseline starting points. Nearly half of applications affect more than one aspect of the quality of life – intelligent traffic signals, say, not only improve mobility but also lower emissions and make roads safer.
Plus there’s the impact on policing and crime. Predictive policing, real-time crime mapping, and gunshot detection have the greatest impact on preventing deaths.
“Incidents of assault, robbery and burglary could be lowered by 30–40%, with predictive policing, real-time crime mapping, and home security systems making the biggest difference. Optimised dispatching and synchronised traffic lights could cut emergency response times by 20–35%.