Smart Cities : Using Technology to Improve Social and Economic Conditions in Urban Areas

After smartphones and smart homes, there are now smart cities, which some critics misconstrue technology use as a means to replace humans in urban workplaces. That is why the prime movers of smart city plans make it clear that their main goal in the use of technology is to deliver services and solve city problems in order to improve the quality of economic and social conditions in urban areas.

What Distinguishes a Smart City from a Traditional City?

Technology is not the defining characteristics of a smart city, but the positive outcomes of technology when in use as tools to make life and all related activities in the city easier and more pleasant. It’s also important that the adoption of technology aims to promote sustainability, accessibility, mobility and waste reduction among other things.

Some of the best-known applications of technology include street sensors that help motorists easily locate and identify traffic jams, empty parking spaces, or estimate time of arrival of a public transport.

While there is now a long list of smart cities in the U.S. this article cites New York City — being the most densely populated metropolis in the U.S. The Big Apple’s most important smart technology adoptions are for water management, waste management and traffic management, including urban mobility and navigation for business travels and tourism.

As a matter of fact, NYC has completed what is touted as the largest upgrade in urban traffic management. The purpose of which is to improve the reliability and efficiency of its aging infrastructure in order to ease traffic and pedestrian congestion on surface streets. To promote road safety, the city’s traffic management technology integrates the use of a connected vehicle two-way communications technology.

The connected vehicle technology enables drivers of cars, buses, trucks and other modes of transport such as bicycles, ebikes and trains, to communicate and receive important real-time traffic information via smartphone apps. The connectivity has greatly improved mobility and safety, especially in the city’s congestion-prone areas.

Actually, part of the city’s smart traffic management initiatives include improvements that encourage more people to use bicycles in commuting to and from, and around the city. It’s a realistic goal as many New Yorkers and travellers to the city are now finding it more convenient to use electric bikes when accessing the different commercial, educational and other activity hubs.

After all, electric bikes today are lighter yet more powerful, where a single charge can cover up to 22 miles. Some can even be folded and carried inside, to eliminate the need for parking spots, as well as the possibility of being stolen.

While NYC is only an example, the following are other examples of U.S.cities that utilize advancements in technology to improve the way people live and carry on with their day-to-day activities:

  • Fresno, California
  • Miami-Dade, Florida
  • LaGrange, Georgia
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Columbus, Ohio.

It might interest readers looking to purchase an electric bike to know that some of the best ebikes, including the foldable ones, cost less than $1000. Review website Ponfish, has an entire webpage containing comprehensive information about the top selling ebikes priced at less than $1000.