16 Tech Leaders Share Big Potential Benefits Of Next-Gen Smart Cities

The concept of “smart cities”—urban areas where functions ranging from traffic management to security are improved through embedded digital technologies—isn’t new. But as technology including the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles and biometric identification continues to evolve, the list of what’s possible in next-generation smart cities continues to grow.

 

While issues such as biases in artificial intelligence and a lack of underlying infrastructure still need to be tackled, it’s not out of the question that within just a decade or two, city dwellers will have access to a host of services that will make everyday living easier and safer. Below, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share the potential upgrades they most look forward to in tomorrow’s smart cities.

1. Unprecedented Efficiency

Virtually all things will be instrumented, enabling an orchestra of data that can be used to improve all aspects of the city. From smart sensors that monitor essential resources to advanced AI tools that predict failure events, everything will be connected, with ubiquitous, reliable and high-speed broadband available to enhance the way people move, communicate and live. - Michael Anderson, Expeto

2. Optimizations For Sustainability

Smart cities create robust living experiences by streamlining operations, identifying inefficiencies and capitalizing on data to make informed decisions. Like the smart home, they bring tech and data to once-unmeasurable experiences. When you can measure a given outcome of activity—for example, a thermostat adjusting to your daily routine—you can optimize for sustainability, which is good for everyone. - Branick Weix, Aryeo

3. Rapid Integration Of New Technologies

Smart cities will include the integration of advanced technologies into infrastructure planning and development. One of the things holding back emerging technologies is the fact that the infrastructure is lacking in existing cities to maximize their usefulness. Smart cities will allow rapid testing and integration of emerging technologies in real time, allowing us to see the benefits immediately. - José Morey, Ever Medical Technologies

4. Connected Classrooms

The smarter cities of the near future will foster smarter education and more immersive, tech-connected K-12 classrooms. Students will be able to access richer edtech at school and home. More consistently tech-enabled schools could close the digital literacy and education gap for underprivileged students and help create better outcomes for students of all learning styles. - Shiv Sundar, Esper

5. Applications Of Contextual Data

Smart cities will enable an abundance of contextual data to be applied to understanding and addressing a variety of problems. In healthcare, we know that there are many impacts on the health of patients and populations based on geography, environment, social determinants and many other localized factors, but we are not able to tap into much of that today in a real-time or dynamic way. - Jennifer Esposito, Magic Leap

6. Reduced CO2 Emissions

Smart cities not only deliver operational and network efficiencies but also offer reduced emissions for environmental sustainability, a global social imperative. Cities can be major culprits when it comes to CO2 production, but technological advancements such as connected IoT devices and modern infrastructure can offer the necessary insights to monitor and ultimately reduce emissions. - Sanjay Brahmawar, Software AG

7. Enhanced Traffic Management

While we must balance smart cities’ reliance on data collection with privacy and security needs, I’m excited about the development of traffic applications, including parking space navigation with built-in reservation and payment functions, traffic management that’s sensitive to the existence of pedestrians and bikers, and navigation optimized by optional criteria, including time, distance and energy usage. - Kazuhiro Gomi, NTT Research

8. Decreased Gridlock And Fewer Accidents

In recent years studies have shown that the average American commuter spends 42 hours sitting in traffic every year, which leads to traffic congestion and car accidents. An innovative city traffic signal program that connects road users to the grid and solves today’s traffic challenges while unlocking innovative mobility benefits for cities and creating an entirely new way of life is something to look forward to. - Phillip Walker, Network Solutions Provider USA Inc.

9. Better Autonomous Vehicles

The efficiency of autonomous vehicles will increase multifold in smart cities—autonomous vehicles are made for smart cities. We’re just beta testing them in our current “dumb” cities. The more they can communicate with their surroundings—traffic lights, other vehicles and so on—the better they perform. Even the roads might double as chargers for these vehicles by storing solar power. - Vikram Joshi, pulsd

10. Improved Safety And Security Systems

Next-generation security is a notable benefit of smart cities. In terms of security, smart cities mean high-tech surveillance systems and cameras equipped with facial-recognition technologies, dependable home security gadgets, efficient law enforcement systems and more. All of the above will make cities safer and more connected, consequently improving citizens’ quality of life. - Roman Taranov, Ruby Labs

11. More Efficient Municipal Services

Smart cities would likely make us safer and more productive by handling municipal functions using the unbiased and rational decision-making processes of smart technology, free from human fatigue, emotion and associated error. - Sreekanth Mallikarjun, Reorg

12. Wi-Fi-Enabled Productivity Boosts

In smart cities, Wi-Fi will be available to everyone for free. And with the IoT coming to everything (including cars), this Wi-Fi infrastructure will boost productivity and efficiency within smart cities. This includes but is not limited to contactless shopping and deliveries and cars communicating with each other, traffic lights, trains and more. - WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer

13. Easier Access To City Services

I’m hoping for more automation of city services and the ways you do business with cities. Automated permitting, online business licenses and resale licenses should be the norm. I’m hoping that for a city to be considered “smart” its leaders will be required to apply lean principles to all areas, increasing efficiency for all and effectiveness for the city. - Laureen Knudsen, Broadcom

14. ‘Customer-Focused’ City Government

I’m optimistic that smart cities will help municipalities begin to view their citizens through more of a customer-/user-experience lens. With a data-driven view of people’s daily habits, needs, desires and frustrations, governments can be of greater service to their communities than ever before, catching up to the customer service evolution that’s already taken place in the marketplace. - Vivek Ahuja, Sofbang LLC

15. Higher Civic Engagement

Civic engagement will skyrocket once cities can provide data digitally. Social media accounts that automatically notify everyone about zoning changes, voting information and public hearings would get more people involved immediately. When more information is available in more ways, people will want to get more involved to have the decisions reflect their own beliefs. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

16. Bike-Friendly Features

Futurists have long envisioned smart cities where residents and visitors can thrive. For example, in Toronto, Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs has proposed the idea of bike lanes that are all-season and that include heating. This would mean cyclists wouldn’t have to contend with snow or ice in the winter and limited visibility at night. - Maddison Long, CloudOps

This article was originally published on Forbes.com.

Published by Bottle Rocket in Digital Transformation, Technology