The needs of marginalised groups and disadvantaged neighbourhoods should be on the agenda when cities choose which applications and programmes to pursue.
A smart city is not automatically an equitable city unless its leaders take care to make it so. Some critics assert that the entire push to make cities smart is mainly about making life more convenient for the affluent. Young and digital savvy populations are natural users of these technologies, but the older and poorer demographic groups on the wrong side of the digital divide may be left out of the benefits and left feeling that they have a little say in the direction their city is taking. But cities cannot be truly smart without broad adoption. Being inclusive is not only a social goal but also a driver of results since the benefits of smart systems multiply as more people use them.
If a city is able to capitalise on its reputation for smartness, there may also be a risk that gentrification will push out some existing residents. But cities have to serve the entirety of their populations. The needs of marginalised groups and disadvantaged neighbourhoods should be on the agenda when cities choose which applications and programmes to pursue.
Initiatives to increase digital literacy and improve the penetration and affordability of internet access and smartphones are also important to ensuring access to the benefits of smart city solutions. Some cities are partnering with private and social sector players to deploy applications, specifically designed to level the playing field for the most vulnerable. It is now possible to use data to reach out to the people who may be eligible for social services, but might otherwise fall through the cracks for a variety of reasons.
Immigrants, who predominantly settle in major cities when they move to a new country, often fall into this category due to language barrier and a lack of familiarity with the available government services. Technology can help to bridge the language gap and connect immigrants with the information and assistance they need to integrate successfully. New York City's new Public Engagement Unit uses integrated, interagency data platforms and mobile apps to coordinate door-to-door outreach to residents who may be in need of assistance but not being currently reached by the government services.
Clara County, recently, partnered with the Economic Roundtable to release a predictive analytics tool for identifying homeless individuals who are expected to be in greatest distress and likely to use public services frequently so they can be prioritised for shelter and services.
A Dublin-based social enterprise Addressing the Unaddressed, has used geo-location codes to provide addresses for more than 20,000 dwellings in 13 informal settlements in Kolkata, giving residents a legal identity that enables access to biometric identification cards linked to social services, voting cards, ration cards and more. It has even worked with local authorities to update data on local wards, given location codes to amenities like water supply points and toilets to understand service provision gaps and successfully petitioned Google Maps to include slum lanes in its mapping and navigation.
Smart technologies can also be used to help people with disabilities navigate the urban environment. In Singapore, the Green Man+ initiative allows someone with a senior or disability concession card to tap the card on a reader so that the signals give them more time to cross at crosswalks. The Wayfinder app helps visually impaired travelers navigate the London Underground transit network. It accesses their location on their smartphones and gives them precise audio instructions to find their way on twisting pathways and escalators.
There is an exciting opportunity to use technology to serve the elderly- an area that is ripe for more public and private sector innovation. Social media networks, video chats and even virtual reality can help keep seniors more c onnected, perhaps drawing them into programmes such as mentoring and tutoring that can build cross-generational bonds.
Specialised e-career platforms may be able to match retirees with opportunities to utilise their skills. Applications such as remote patient monitoring, telemedicine and specialised e-hailing and on-demand services may help more seniors at home. Several global agencies have efforts underway to create standards and guidelines for inclusive city design, such as the Smart Cities for All tool kit launched in 2017 by G3ict, an initiative launched by the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development.
The initiative proposes global standards on digital inclusion, a model procurement policy drawing on international accessibility standards and a database of smart technology initiatives bridging the digital divide.
Innovation and investment
Most cities have limited financial resources, personnel and expertise at their disposal, but the city government does not have to be the sole funder and operator of every type of service and infrastructure system. While implementing most of the applications examined, the majority of the initial investment could come from the private sector. Public financing may be reserved for only those public goods that must be provided by the government. Furthermore, more than half of the initial investment that needs to be made by the public sector would generate a positive financial return, which opens the door to partnerships. Cities may enlist multiple partners, not only for purchasing and setting up systems but for ongoing operational management.
It makes sense to identify those areas where city agencies can step back and make a room for other players, including private sector companies, state-owned utilities, universities, foundations and non-profits. Adding more actors to the mix is positive since it increases adoption and applies more creativity to the available data. Abu Dhabi introduced telemedicine services through a joint venture with Medgate, a Swiss telemedicine provider. Mexico city's early earthquake warning system is the product of the CIRES Center, a non-profit institution and SkyAlert, a startup that delivers alerts to users via a mobile app that generates revenues through advertising and subscriptions. Singapore's Smart Nation initiative incubates many pilots, with the eventual goal of turning some over to the private sector or instituting user fees.
In cases where smart city innovations come from the private sector companies, the role of the government may involve creating the right regulatory environment, convening key actors, offering subsidies or changing the government purchasing decisions. National governments can also play a role in areas such as convening city leaders, highlighting best practices that can be replicated, providing funding and encouraging data sharing and inter-operability standards across cities.
Encouraging innovation by external actors typically starts with making government data open source and easily accessible, but some cities take that further by creating consortia, partnerships and even physical collaboration spaces. Amsterdam Smart City, for example, is a public-private partnership that defines itself as an innovation platform. It brings together municipal agencies, educational institutions, non-profits, private sector partners and startups to tackle projects along broad themes such as smart energy, mobility and livability.
Barcelona used public funding to reinvent a former industrial site as @22Barcelona, a space for startups to develop new apps and tools. The initiative has since drawn private investment from Cisco. Other cities are partnering with tech firms and real estate companies to create large-scale smart developments and districts.
Andhra Pradesh is developing Eluru Smart City through Swiss challenge method. The Swiss challenge is a method of bidding, often used in public projects, in which an interested party initiates a proposal for a contract or the bid for a project. The government then puts the details of the project out in the public and invites proposals from others interested in executing it. On the receipt of these bids, the original contractor gets an opportunity to match the best bid.
Underlying technology base
Smart cities run on data. Before a city can deploy applications, it has to be able to generate, capture and analyse enormous volumes of data in complex infrastructure systems and settings that are often teeming with millions of people. The technology base consists of three elements, all of which support the applications of today as well as those to be added in the future.
First, cities need a layer of sensors and devices throughout the physical environment. Smartphones are an important element; they act as mobile sensors as their owners move through the city with them. Phones generate location and other data and they are the most common means for users to interact with applications. Other crucial elements include air and water quality sensors, surveillance cameras and waste receptacle sensors. Our analysis looks at sensor density per household or per capita.
Second, cities need robust communication networks. These include broadband and mobile networks with high, down and upload speed as well as low latency. Another aspect for residents and visitors is free public Wi-Fi coverage across a city. Lastly, as billions of more sensors and smart devices need to be wired into the Internet of Things, Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) with unlicensed and licensed technologies (such as LoRa and narrowband IoT) provide some of the necessary connectivity.
Third, open data portals are important platforms for innovation. City governments hold reams of potentially valuable data in their infrastructure systems, public records and the environment. Many cities around the world now make significant amounts of their information public- from restaurant health inspections to school performance and neighbourhood crime statistics. Converting data sets into standardised, shareable formats and making them available on easy-to-use public portals gives external developers the raw material for making applications and in particular, provides the fuel that trains analytics and AI systems, enabling them to perform more sophisticated functions.
Open data also supports greater transparency, accountability and civic engagement. Among the cities with the most advanced technology bases are Singapore, New York, Seoul, Stockholm and Amsterdam. All have ultra-high speed communication networks and are in the process of launching 5G services. Seoul, for example, has some of the fastest internet speeds in the world and an extensive LPWA network. These cities have also expanded their sensor base beyond what most of their global peers have achieved. New York and Stockholm, for example, have rolled out smart water meters- an application that has yet to achieve the same penetration globally as smart energy meters due to a lower return on investment. New York and Seoul were also early adopters of smart waste compactors.
The leading cities took different routes to build a world-class digital infrastructure. Stockholm benefited from a national initiative to expand broadband and replace conventional metres with smart metres. Singapore has always made a modern, seamless business environment a national priority and its drive to build cutting-edge communication networks was an outgrowth of that mindset. It was one of the first places in the world to be blanketed with free Wi-Fi. In other cases, cities have taken innovative approaches on their own. New York has forged creative business partnerships, such as the consortium behind its LinkNYC public Wi-Fi. These kiosks, which also provide charging stations and information portals connecting people to social services, offer a vehicle for advertising revenue to offset the capital costs.
Google-funded free Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces across San Francisco and has recently expanded similar efforts in emerging economies from India to Mexico. Looking at each element of the tech base reveals other standouts. Santander has been installing thousands of RFID trackers on waste bins. Copenhagen is notable for taking an innovative approach to its open data portal.
Developed in partnership with Hitachi, the City Data Exchange makes it possible for businesses and residents to submit information to supplement available public data. It also serves as a marketplace, enabling the city to monetise some of the information it gathers. Users can purchase or subscribe to key data sets, then put them to work in building innovative city services. San Francisco has also managed to build a strong technology base, with a strong broadband and LPWA infrastructure and a dense network of smart energy and water metres.
Most dense cities in advanced economies have subway or light-rail systems built decades ago. Many have become overburdened over time and adding new lines or additional cars is an expensive proposition. In New York, for example, almost half of all commuters take the subway to school or work. But the system is showing its age. Delays have been worsening in recent years due to breakdowns, deferred maintenance and the sheer time it takes to load and unload passengers at every stop. Smart city technologies can stretch transit investment, helping cities get more out of their existing assets or embedding intelligence into expansions and new assets. Adding IoT sensors to existing infrastructure can help crews perform predictive maintenance on equipment, fixing problems before they turn into breakdowns and delays. Collecting and analysing data on public transit usage and traffic can also help cities make better decisions about modifying bus routes, installing traffic signals and turn lanes, adding bike lanes and determining infrastructure budgets.
Many existing transit systems are going ticketless with integrated digital payment systems. The Transport for London system, for example, accepts contactless payment; riders can simply tap their Oyster smartcards, specially designated bank cards or mobile phones at underground turnstiles or upon boarding buses. This required investment in the new payment infrastructure, but it reduces the ongoing costs of revenue collection. Other cities have turned to mobile ticketing; riders can simply pay within Houston's new METRO Q app, for example.
The METRO Q Mobile Ticketing app allows users to search transit routes through the city, much like Google Maps. The difference is that once the customer selects a route, they can purchase it instantly within the app. The programme will then produce a digital ticket that the user shows to the bus driver or train attendant in order to board. That approach comes with the benefit that Houston didn't have to invest in an expensive new card-reading infrastructure, informs GlobeSherpa CEO Nat Parker- METRO who just had to train his staff in reading the security features in the animated tickets.
Smart technologies can reduce traffic accidents. Some applications designed with an eye toward improving mobility have the secondary effect of reducing harm. E-hailing, for example, provides a safe and convenient alternative to getting behind the wheel of a car. It is estimated that it can reduce traffic fatalities by more than 1 per cent in some cities or countries such as India where the rate of traffic fatalities is high, primarily by cutting down on driving while drunk or otherwise impaired.
Removing cars from the road through applications such as congestion pricing can decrease the likelihood of pedestrian and cyclist accidents while improving traffic flow with intelligent signals can decrease risky driving at intersections. But the biggest potential breakthrough could occur if autonomous (self-driving) vehicles become technically and commercially feasible and are adopted at a sufficient scale. Applications that improve code inspection and enforcement (such as fire safety standards) can also have an impact. New Orleans, for instance, applied analytics to the US Census Bureau Data and came up with a plan to distribute smoke alarms to residences deemed to be at high risk. Chicago has a small team of food safety inspectors covering thousands of restaurants. The city has created an algorithm to predict which ones are most likely to be in violation of health codes and deploy those inspectors more effectively. Chicago officials created the algorithm using open-source tools and shared it on GitHub, inviting users to improve the model and making it available to other cities.
Washington DC has since used it to establish its own data-driven restaurant safety inspections. Chicago's Public Health Department has also partnered with the University of Chicago to create an analytics-based approach to identify structures where children may be exposed to lead paint.
Fumes and pollutants from industrial sites, diesel engines and the burning of coal combine to form a thick, dusty haze that hangs over many of the world's major urban centers and the residents of rapidly growing low income cities pay the heaviest price.
On a short-term basis, poor air quality can dry out and irritate the eyes, nose and throat; cause headaches, congestion and coughing and trigger allergies and asthma attacks. Longer-term exposure is linked to lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema, certain types of cancer, nerve and organ damage and even birth defects. Air pollution is one of the world's most serious public health threats. One study found that annual deaths from air pollution in Africa increased by 36 per cent from 1990 to 2013.
In addition to the toxic fumes such as nitrogen dioxide, which is a by-product of burning fuel, air pollution contains particulate matter such as dust and soot. WHO air quality guidelines measure concentrations of both, coarse particulate (PM10, or particles between 2.5 and 10 micrometres in size) and fine particles (PM2.5, with particle sizes of less than 2.5 micrometres). Coarse particulate comes from sources such as road dust and construction, while fine particulate is primarily from combustion. The latter is particularly dangerous since it can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.
Cities may have entirely different rationales in mind when they deploy some of the energy-saving and mobility applications explored in this report, but they could wind up improving air quality as a secondary benefit. It is estimated that these applications could lower average annual PM2.5 concentrations by some 3-6 per cent.
Cities that want to make a conscious effort to improve air quality can opt for another type of application: real-time information about air quality based on connected sensors throughout the city that captures real-time readings about the extent, sources and daily fluctuations of pollution levels. Cities can act on this evidence in multiple ways to reduce pollution and although these choices are informed by data, the solutions themselves do not always involve technology. Local officials can temporarily shut down plants and facilities that are heavy polluters, for example.
When Santiago took these types of steps, the city was able to bring down PM10 concentrations by some 20 per cent. Beijing has similarly achieved a roughly 20 per cent reduction in deadly airborne pollutants less than a year after it began closely tracking the sources of pollution and regulating traffic and construction accordingly. Governments might also undertake more ambitious and longer-term interventions.
Some involve heavy capital investment, such as expanding public transit to take more private vehicles off the road. Others involve new types of regulation, such as fuel and filtering standards. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, for example, are Southern California's largest source of air pollution and emissions. They achieved dramatic reductions after the 2006 introduction of a clean air plan that required cargo ships to shut down diesel engines and phased out the oldest and most polluting diesel trucks. Now they are seeking to go further with a new plan to gradually phase out all the diesel trucks and shift to zero-emissions cargo handling equipment by 2020 moves that will require an estimated USD 14 billion in public and private funding.
In addition to facilitating measures to decrease pollution levels, real-time air quality information can be used in another important way: to mitigate negative health effects. People who are aware of air pollution levels can take their own protective measures. They may decide to wear masks, move their exercise indoors or change their route to work. Those with asthma may decide not to go out at all.
In addition to public information about air quality, private apps such as Plume (which pairs devices with smartphones) offer users hyper-local information and behavioural advice. Especially in cities where solid fuels are often burned indoors for heat and energy, the health burden from indoor pollution may be just as significant as that from outdoor air pollution. Real-time information about air quality can help individuals respond both in and outside of the home, whether they change outdoor running paths, install range hoods in their kitchens, or dissuade family members from smoking.
MGI Smart Cities report estimate that this information can help reduce the negative health effects from air pollution by 3-15 per cent in the three cities analysed, which could contribute to lowering the total disease burden by up to 1 per cent. In some Asian and Middle Eastern cities where air pollution accounts for more than 10 per cent of the city's disease burden, real-time information could deliver even higher impact. Just as energy-saving and mobility applications could have spill over effects on air quality, air quality applications would have spill over effects on both, GHG emissions and health outcomes. These types of multifaceted effects show the importance of thinking holistically about what it means to be a smart city and measuring outcomes in a broader and more dynamic way.
Dieses prevention with data
Data and digital tools can be harnessed to address some of the fundamental public health challenges facing the developing world. The level of mortality and morbidity caused by infectious and parasitic disease in a country like Nigeria is six times higher than that of the leading cause of death in the United States (cardiovascular disease). Tens of millions of deaths and serious illnesses each year can be attributed to preventable causes such as malnutrition, lack of immunisations, inadequate maternal and early childhood care, unsafe sex and inadequate water and sanitation systems that can spread infectious disease.
Cities can substantially reduce the risks of preventable and easily treatable illnesses by using big data and advanced analytics to shape public health interventions. Small sub-populations often account for a large share of certain conditions. Analytics can identify demographic groups with elevated risk profiles so that interventions can be targeted more precisely. Having identified the right target audiences, authorities can reach large numbers of people in a highly effective, low-cost way through text messaging, which does not require a smartphone or internet access.
The so-called mHealth interventions can disseminate lifesaving messages about vaccinations, sanitation, diabetes, self-management and safe sex as well as medication reminders for patients on antiretroviral therapy and other types of public health campaigns. This approach is valuable in any city, but it could have an outsized impact in the poorest developing cities. In particular, our analysis finds that data-based interventions focused on maternal and child health such as sending at-risk mothers timely reminders about pre and postnatal care can reduce DALYs by more than 5 per cent in a city with high childhood mortality rates. This type of approach is already producing results; a recent randomised control study found that timely SMS reminders increased childhood immunisation rates in Kenya and the effect was even larger when combined with small monetary incentives.
Big data is dramatically improving infectious disease surveillance and we estimate that the low income cities could reduce disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) by another 5 per cent by implementing these systems. Health officials can stay a step ahead of fast-moving epidemics by tracking new cases in real time. This may involve monitoring social media, internet searches and even cell phone usage and the tools are becoming more sophisticated.
During the 2016 Zika outbreak, experts in epidemiology, technology and public health teamed up to capture location intelligence and analyse it with data visualisations and mapping tools as the disease spread throughout Rio and eventually made its way to Miami. Users of the mWater mobile app, an open-source tool being used in countries around the world, test for contamination in drinking water sources and then upload the findings to a global water database for mapping.
The development of new digital channels for the public to communicate with local officials could make cities more responsive to the concerns of their residents and change the nature of civic participation. Most city governments, long ago, established websites to make residents aware of the services available to them and to post information and even extensive open data sets. Social media now enables them to go a step further. Many now maintain an active presence on the most popular social networks and interact with individuals in real time.
In addition to disseminating information, these channels also empower citizens to talk back. This may entail bringing neighbourhood safety issues to the attention of relevant agencies or weighing in on economic development plans. The government once made pronouncements, but now residents can engage in two-way conversations with public officials and agencies.
This is the first step toward engaging residents in making their own cities better. Beginning in the 1990s, a number of cities established non-emergency 311 telephone hotlines for lodging complaints, making maintenance requests or finding information about services and regulations. Many of them subsequently established 311 websites and disseminated their own 311 smartphone apps. New York, for example, established a 311 call center in 2003. By 2016, the service was handling 36 million interactions with the public each year; nearly half of those take place on digital channels, including texts, mobile apps and social media channels. Many other cities, including Austin, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Toronto, have similarly shifted 311 non-emergency service requests to mobile apps.
A company called SeeClickFix has created an open-source app that any city can customise and deploy. It is now used for citizen reporting in hundreds of communities, including many smaller cities. These types of channels help residents request assistance with mundane issues such as potholes, graffiti, broken streetlights and dangerous intersections. But in a bigger sense, they give cities millions of ears to the ground. As these interactions grow in number and scale, they yield valuable crowd sourced data that can be mined for patterns, predictions and prioritisation.
Dynamic two-way communication not only gives cities a better picture of their residents' key concerns but also draws people into the policy-making process. In the past, the government would gauge public opinion on certain issues by allowing a few hours of comment at town halls or by conducting surveys. But citizens of Seoul, one of the most wired cities in the world, can weigh in on proposed municipal policies with the mVoting mobile app.
This opens the process to millions of voices, taking a more accurate pulse and even inviting the public to post their own proposals. Paris has implemented a participatory budget, inviting citizens to post project ideas and then holding an online vote so the public can decide which ones merit funding. Cities can also expand participation by holding open data hackathons to solve civic problems. Map Kibera, for example, invites the residents of Nairobi to contribute to an open data mapping project.
Platforms that enhance civic participation can be implemented with relatively little investment by cities. But they could yield substantial intangible benefits in terms of crowd sourcing, better decisions and make people feel that their voices are being heard. The effectiveness of these applications and initiatives can vary depending on their exact purpose and on whether local government is really prepared to respond to what they hear. If local agencies ask for input and then do not follow through and deliver, the entire experience could leave residents feeling even more disconnected. Cities may need to keep their interactions very practical and limit them to areas where they have the resources to respond.
Adapting current offerings to meet smart city needs
Companies in multiple industries are already beginning to alter their existing product and service lines to suit changing urban markets from utilities that are rolling out smart metres and introducing dynamic pricing schemes to real estate developers that are integrating automation systems, sensors and mobility options into their properties.
Comprehensive communication networks are at the heart of any smart city's technology base. It takes extensive 5G and LPWA networks to accommodate applications that require high bandwidth and low latency (such as autonomous vehicles) as well as applications that need only low bandwidth but rely on long-distance connections and low energy consumption. These networks require substantial capital investment, but the exponentially rising number of IoT devices is increasing the market for cellular connectivity.
Going beyond the communications layer, some telecoms have been using their relationships with local governments to branch into partnerships that are focused on more generalised smart technology implementation. Funded by a grant from the European Union, Telef=nica, for instance, drove the installation of 12,000 sensors in Santander - sensors that are connected to Telef=nica's communications backbone, securing long-term utilisation of the company's network.
Vodafone is supplying many law enforcement authorities with body-worn cameras, a technology that requires high bandwidth because it entails live-streaming tremendous amounts of video data to operations centres. Other telecoms are offering solutions such as smart parking and waste management systems. Furthermore, telecom operators are offering their residential customers smart home hardware or smart features embedded in routers, integrating new features into broadband subscriptions.
Although it is posting explosive growth in cities worldwide, e-hailing has relatively limited penetration with certain audiences and new vehicle concepts could help the concept breakthrough with them. Most commuters, for example, find e-hailing too expensive to use regularly. Many business travellers who could afford it want to work on the ride but find it impossible using pooled options. The right kind of shared mini-buses, with space for storage, WiFi, folding work desks and privacy screens or headrests, could work for these segments. At the same time, families with children as well as elderly and disabled riders would be more likely to take more flexible vehicles with easy entry, generous storage space and seats that can be reconfigured.
Moia, Volkswagen has designed an all-new electric vehicle concept to bridge the gap between taxis, shuttle vans and buses. Other automakers are expected to follow suit. In addition, the concept of vehicle personalisation is likely to change. In the past, car manufacturers could achieve compelling margins through personalised hardware such as alloy wheels. But shared-mobility providers will look for more durable, standardised models that can withstand wear and tear from passengers. Digital means of personalising the car for passengers, such as seamlessly integrating their smart devices and digital identity or offering value-added services, will assume greater importance.
Lastly, vehicles will also need to help drivers navigate the new urban environment. Many new vehicles already feature real-time road navigation and smart parking and these types of offerings will continue to evolve. Commercial trucks, too, will need to be able to tap into smart city systems such as load pooling and urban consolidation centers.
Smart technologies can yield massive improvements in efficiency and capacity for infrastructure providers. They provide detailed, real-time information on how assets are being used, enabling infrastructure providers to plan and manage capacity more effectively. Smart city applications can smooth the use of public assets over time, either by enabling real-time pricing schemes or by giving users a better view of current utilisation. Congestion pricing, integrated multimodal information and real-time traffic information minimise overutilisation of the current road network, thus reducing the need for new construction.
Competitive advantage will thus, shift from those who can quickly build basic infrastructure at scale to those who can provide more intelligent infrastructure. In addition, predictive maintenance solutions let operators detect fault patterns and send early warnings before systems fail. They minimise costly downtime, preventing incidents such as power outages, water-main breaks and transit disruptions. The Hamburg Port Authority feeds data from building sensors and from shipping and container companies into a SAP-enabled big data platform. This helps determine what kind of preventive and predictive maintenance is needed to manage an extensive network of roads, bridges and waterfront structures, ensuring the smooth flow of traffic in and out of the port.
On the revenue side, smart city technologies can help infrastructure providers implement new, more dynamic pricing models and optimise incidental revenues. Parking operators can dynamically manage utilisation and pricing across multiple garages, while airport operators can track passenger footfall to refine physical layouts, guiding more travellers to shops and optimising advertising placement.