Technology helps advance smarter cities

For cities to become smart, they need to be connected.

The development of scalable smart city models has been back at the center of discussions all over the world - mainly for its involvement in the global economy and sustainability. According to the IMD Smart City Index and the Cities in Motion Index, a smart city should report high levels of connectivity applied to issues such as governance and functionality.

Street and avenue monitoring, weather alerts, energy savings, peak-time vehicle flow alternatives - a smart city is defined by its ability to bring together digitization with the provision of everyday services. These cities rely on cutting-edge technology powered by data, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), processed with the help of the 5G technology and Cloud computing. One of the indices that measures the degree of intelligence of cities is the IMD Smart City. It was created to identify the smartest and most technological in the world with the aim of bringing together places that manage to balance digitization and functionality, improving people's lives. In the last study, in 2023, Zurich (Switzerland) was in the lead, followed by Oslo (Norway) and Canberra (Australia).

Especially in Latin America, where about 80% of the population lives in urban centers, according to ECLAC data, smart cities seem to be a mandatory path. Not surprisingly, several countries in the region have been investing in the development of these projects, with good examples of smart cities, such as Santiago, Chile; Bogotá, Colombia; Curitiba, Brazil; and Mexico City, Mexico. The challenge now is to find ways to accelerate and scale this model.

A recent report by Research and Markets, cited by  Nasdaq, indicates that worldwide the smart cities market will grow by more than 20%, reaching US$2.51 trillion (approximately R$12 trillion) by 2025. This growth is expected to be driven by increased urbanization around the world, and higher technology spending on smart city programs, as well as the development of more infrastructure.

The world's population reached 8 billion people last year, with 56% living in urban areas, according to the United Nations (UN). For this and other reasons, there is already an urgency to transfer sustainable projects to cities in order to make them “smarter” soon. With this in mind, how can cities evolve? There is talk of an Open Source solution, implementing open standards and an open data strategy, giving cities the flexibility they need to build future-proof technology infrastructures. The topic brings many discussions: if on the one hand it has low initial cost and high customization; on the other hand, it is more exposed to cyber-attacks, has low stability and demands high maintenance cost (since it does not have a support coupled to the service). In addition, cities will have to invest in other technologies such as 5G and Cloud, seeking mobility, security, quality of life, economy, sustainability and governance in a healthy way.

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