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Most people think that smart cities are either an unachievable utopia or just one of those fancy buzzwords thrown about by real estate developers. However, many of the bits and pieces necessary to build such urban environments are already available today. In fact, several of these innovations may now be considered so commonplace in some cities that people fail to notice them anymore.

Here are some of the things your city may already have—or need—to get started on the road to becominga smart city:

The Network

A smart city is often characterized by its use of information and communication technologiesand the Internet of Things (IoT) in urban development and management. As such, stable broadband internet access is a necessity to connect the entire smart city.

This allows different devices to access your city’s public broadband connection, eliminating the need for different agencies and institutions to get their own individual internet connections. These devices also get to interface with each other more efficiently, thus enabling all residents to be truly interconnected

Public Transport

By connecting public transportation to the internet, managing them—and the commuters who use buses and trains everyday—becomesan easier task. Novel solutionscan be as simple as creatingautomatically updatingtimetables for major forms of mass transport,whichcan be easily accessed by commuters online. These can be coupled by automated social media postings on the current status of public transportation in the cityto make information more accessible to the riding public.

This can eventually lead to a more comprehensive solution in the form of fleet management for buses and taxis. By having a fleet management system in place, issues such as having too many buses on the road at off-peak hours and too few of them during rush hour can be avoided. These also help public transportation companies to evaluate if they need to establish new routes, adjust the frequency of each trip, add stops, and so on.

Safety

Installing smart CCTV camerasat busy roads and intersections can be advantageous to any city. While some people may see undertones of Big Brother in this suggestion, it can’t be denied that these cameras can help law enforcement in many ways. For example, strategically-placed cameras can alert police and emergency services to respond to crimes or accidents faster. They can also help provide leads—as footage from these cameras may have captured criminals and traffic violators in the act.

Police officers and traffic enforcers can be also given body cameras to record how they apprehend lawbreakers. By knowing they’re being recorded, law enforcement units are dissuaded from applying excess force.

Planning

Of course, cities aren’t static developments—they have to grow and evolve through the years. To ensure that this growth is sustainable and won’t result in dystopian urban sprawl, planning is necessary. By getting data from everyone and everything connected to the network, urban planners can make better decisions for the future. For instance, creating a smart grid infrastructure with intelligent energy deployments can help ensure thatthe cities’ growing population will have the electricity it needs.

By combining these innovations with honest, straightforward leadership at the local government level, upgrading your hometown into a smart city is definitely possible.