By Mohamed Amer
We live in an overcrowded world with a population clock nearly hitting 7,810,201,700 people, according to the United States Census Bureau (2021). Therefore, there has been a dire need to find a solution that can solve the ever-increasing population issue and also keep humanity capable of coping with the nonstop needs of time. Everyone who closely observes the daily updates of the world notices how some leaders, as well as people, of the world tend to move a little towards previously uninhabited spots and how the others tend to digitalize the once-called old-fashioned cities.
Examples of cities in motion (smart cities) include London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Reykjavik, etc. However, these cities have been an integral part of the developed world with no overpopulation crisis that may lead to backward services. It is the cities of the developing countries that suffer the most, but recently, there has been a gesture of hope.
What’s a Smart City?
According to Techopedia, “A smart city is a designation given to a city that incorporates information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as, energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. The overarching aim of a smart city is to enhance the quality of living for its citizens through smart technology.”
Smart Cities of the World
The Egyptian Experience
The total estimated Cairo’s population is about 9.54 million people living within 453 km2 (175 sq mi), the matter which made the Egyptian government take a bold step by moving all its administrative headquarters and services to a new smart city, and by “smart” they mean technologically, financially, economically, politically, and also service-wise.
The New Administrative Capital is located 35 km east of Cairo of a total area of 170,000 feddan, according to the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (2021). It also incubates huge smart utilities particularly designed for smart management and operation of water, gas, and electricity with new options, so as to reduce consumption and cost. Safety and security are also fundamental elements of the smart capital which is equipped with CCTV cameras and control sensors closely integrated around the center, not to mention the smart urban planning of the city which automatically identifies the most effective ways to save renewable sources of energy and also helps reduce the consumption of non-renewable sources.
The Indian Gift City
The Indian experience is also a unique example of smart cities. The Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (Gift City) is a part of the Smart Cities Mission launched by the Indian government in 2015, with aim to “promote cities that provide core infrastructure, clean, and sustainable environment and give a decent quality oflife to their citizens”, according to the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (2021). The well-named city has many advantages, varying from its strategic location, integrated developmental services, smart, sustainable, and green infrastructure, to its single window clearance, high quality of life, and talent availability. Stemming from its smart nature, the city provides top-notch water supply and sewerage system, power facilities, and high-tech information and communication systems. The Indian government designs the city to be a test-bed for reformation and innovation in various fields, including urban development, infrastructure reform, physical planning, and environmental protection.
The Helsinki Smart Region
As a smart-tech hub and a driving force for socio-economic growth around Europe, the promising Helsinki-Uusimaa Region has 26 municipalities. However, its geographic location and demographic nature make it challenging to make the not-so-big city a hub for urban development. The Finnish government plans to invite various megatrends of climate change, urbanization, and demographic change in the region, which creates a one-of-its-kind opportunity to pilot and tailor smart and digital solutions for various European cities, not just the Finnish ones. The Helsinki-Uusimaa Region has the ability to produce various industrial products due to the ever-increasing number of factories and companies operating in an eco-friendly system. The region is a hub of innovative industries, including self-driving vehicles, cybersecurity products, and smart health services.
In a nutshell, the world seems to have a solution for its centuries-old issues. Smart solutions are key to alleviating the damage incurred by the world in the last three centuries at least. People need to be smart enough to know that their lifestyle needs to change forever, and that smart life is their only way to live a peaceful creative life.