By Emily Gerson, Content Marketing Specialist

The futuristic smart city concept is popular for its forward thinking methods, so we wanted to answer all your big questions about the movement.

Busy city at night connected by the internetWhat is a smart city?

It's connection. The "smart city" idea is a framework that relies on innovative, connectable technologies like Internet of Things (IoTs). This movement encourages urban areas to modernize and become interconnected. Integral goals for smart cities are efficiency, communication, safety, and sustainability. Often, the technology will feed into a collective system that can communicate to citizens and operators in real time. In addition to accelerating accident response time, it improves the user experience for city residents who can then check traffic or other infrastructure-related incidents from their phone.

Why are smart cities important?

Urban areas have long been known for being fast-paced and innovative, but technology has exploded and city infrastructure risks falling behind. It must keep up with its citizens, who crave convenience and information. Creating an integrated web of infrastructure-focused technology can lead to quicker, more transparent communication with residents regarding public transit, traffic, incidents, and more. Additionally, smart cities are better for the environment. Their model to increase efficiencies will decrease emissions and encourage transportation to shift toward eco-friendly, technology solutions (i.e., electric cars, tracked parking).

How do you become a smart city?

Because the concept and the technologies are constantly evolving, smart cities are infinite in their growth. This means there is no set of materials that will give you a "complete" smart city. It's a moving target. However, most importantly we recommend a quality software that allows data integration and view manipulation; this will allow you to collect different data types and combine them into adjustable views. Then, invest in technical products that allow you to collect the information to communicate; this can include materials like high tech cameras or thermal detection sensors.

Real Time Data and TransportationHow do smart city concepts apply to traffic and transportation?

The interconnected mindset means real-time communication between citizens, operators, and public transit. If a sensor or camera can instantly alert an operator of an incident, it is more quickly handled and accurate accident information is easily disseminated to all drivers. Smart city-based technology would also allow operators to lay out a detour that can be communicated to drivers en route. In addition to minimizing back ups, the added data collection allows engineers to proactively notice traffic patterns and create time-saving solutions. The framework connects all the pieces of the puzzle to make for a smoother transportation experience.

What are the challenges?

Smart cities rely on an internet connection, which means they are vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. This is particularly concerning because of the amount and scope of data being collected in a smart city. Cybersecurity also leads to the other challenge of the smart city model: privacy. Many citizens worry about the idea of increased surveillance on their every day lives when more sensors, cameras, and detection products are being utilized. For both these challenges, the solutions are simple; invest in an extremely secure database and increase community involvement in smart city plans to avoid overstepping boundaries.

Woman working on a Smart City plan on her laptopWhere do you start?

As with many transitional shifts, you want to start with a plan, which is why companies like ours are here. We provide support and tools to the transportation and infrastructure industries. Our expert engineering consultants can help you plan and execute a smart city plan on time and in budget. As stated above, it's also vital to have access to the proper software and products. We offer a smart city-friendly software and partner with several trusted technical product brands, so we know we only provide our clients the best.