Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Smart Cities

Computer algorithms are now being developed to provide analytics that help city officials develop proactive versus reactive solutions for a programmed emergency. Welcome to the era of Smart Cities.

Read On:
One of the first Smart Cities is Rio de Janeiro. The city began working with I.B.M. back in 2007 to establish an Intelligent Operations Center to predict the outcome of a major crisis like heavy thunderstorms. Data, historical and current, will analyze potential power outages, flooding, mudslides, etc., as well as project the availability of hospital beds, shelters, emergency workers, etc. This center, scheduled to open later this year, integrates 20 departments, from civil defense to traffic, that will be ready to assist in the day-to-day operational efficiency of the city.

I.B.M.’s Global Pubic Sector unit now has approximately 2,000 smarter cities projects in the works. It is projected that the total market opportunity for developing Smart Cities will be worth $34 billion this year and grow at an annual rate of 18.3 percent to $57 billion by 2014. New York City is a smart city and is working with I.B.M. to collect and share real time data for its fire department. Rotterdam has installed smart sensors in their levees to monitor conditions (e.g., water pressure, temperature, etc.) around the clock to minimize or even prevent flooding. Another company that is involved in working with city governments in a wide array of technology is Cisco. They offer a program called Community+ Exchange which streamlines planning and management at the community level. One of their major clients here in the states is San Antonio where law enforcement officials now have the ability to share real time information so their personnel can act more quickly.

With more anticipated natural catastrophes on the horizon, like earthquakes and resulting tsunamis, or even a terrorist event, there is an accelerated movement by city governments to develop Smart City environments. Are you living in a Smart City?


  1. The smartest city of all is DisneyWorld. The technology embedded in the infrastructure of this giant community serves not only the need of the company for efficiency and safety, but stands as a model to small cities as to what CAN be done. THX for the interesting blog.

  2. With the educational changes our new Chicago Mayor is planning, our city will no longer be smart :)

  3. Raised in Chicago and now living in San Antonio, the difference stems from terms limits and low annual salary for the mayor of San Antonio and city council members. Embracing a logical and disciplined/balanced budget approach to city finances. 30% of the economy is based upon the military...a work oriented culture not an entitlement based culture. Add to that a state that has a multi-billion dollar Rainy Day fund for natural disasters and you come to understand why Texas and San Antonio are growing in spite of the current economic climate. put simply people here are not afraid to work.

  4. Couple that with "Living" buildings, and the future isn't looking so bleak! http://goo.gl/Y8SxQ

  5. Hi Jim,

    Another new technology that's being tested in our city is installing traffic lights at key intersections with these override sensors which emergency vehicles (eg, fire trucks, ambulances, etc) can use to change traffic lights from red to green so they don't have to slow down to pass through the intersection.

    A test study showed that the implementation of such technology shortened significantly the response time of these first responders. But perhaps the biggest surprise was how they found a slight decrease in speed was needed since they didn't have to make up for lost time at these intersections. Consequently, not only do they get to the site of an emergency faster, but they do such in a safer fashion.

    Sounds like the seeds of a smart city to me.