While progress continues to transform smart cities, challenges are still of great concern in infrastructure upkeep, population growth, migration, and sustainability. From schools to businesses and transportation to energy, a smart city vision helps bring solutions to every aspect of citizens’ lives. Working together, new ideas and new technologies can be brought to fruition in concrete ways that enhance the lives of citizens and create a brighter future.  Here are the top five trends in smart cities for 2020.

According to Deloitte, to realize the full power of a smart city, it’s critical to engage the people who live there. After all, the ultimate goal is to make cities a better place to live and work, not just more efficient providers of infrastructure and services. Human-centered design thinking promotes collective intelligence and is central to the smart city movement.

 Real-time citizen interaction

The speed and variety of data available to municipalities can be a catalyst for transformation. With real-time citizen interaction, cities and towns are crowdsourcing information. Combine these with increased interest in local government among citizens, and you see the potential for unheralded citizen-government interaction. From real-time feedback on services to real-time video data sharing and base-level artificial intelligence, user experience can be significantly enhanced.

Government-citizen collaboration tools can be facilitated through personal wireless devices. City apps can serve as virtual information kiosks on a host of government services and events. Apps and websites can seamlessly provide certain services, such as municipal license renewals. This is one area where municipalities can take cues from the business world, which has long adopted a customer, experience-centric model.

Cybersecurity

As crime becomes smarter and high-tech, public safety and security agencies must adapt to it. Law enforcement officers already use drones, wearable computing, facial recognition, and predictive video to fight crime. Data will play an increasingly important role in crime prevention as agencies try to preempt crime. Agencies now can analyze all streams of data, including social and crowdsourced data, to identify hot spots for street crime and deploy police more efficiently. The answer to policing of the future is not the militarization of law enforcement units but rather smarter policing and surveillance through technology and data. Consider Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the police department has installed mobile surveillance cameras in parks around the city. These aren’t your average surveillance cameras; police officers can access the cameras from mobile devices to view live images and can remotely control them. They can monitor the cameras during critical situations such as negotiations with hostage-takers or SWAT raids. In less urgent situations, the cameras can send images and videos via a 4G wireless signal back to the city’s Real Time Crime Center for further analysis, with footage from more than 100 traffic cameras and 300 private cameras positioned throughout the city. Cities also must become better equipped to mitigate and respond to cybersecurity issues. Secure data platforms, clear governance, and smart access protocols can help safeguard data against inevitable hacking attempts.

While certain technologies can seem vulnerable, such as cloud storage of citizen information, end-to-end encryption can render this data more secure than if held on-premises. However, smart cities do not result solely from significant investments in technology systems. Instead, smart towns grow from internal capabilities in government. In today’s world, the government needs to be tech-literate. Although vendors may provide several services, there is a risk of technology being underutilized if the right core group of government managers is not put in place. These competent workers are crucial components in ensuring effective and secure government-citizen data systems.

Broadband Access

The last trend is the movement toward high-speed internet access as a necessity. Some call broadband the electricity of the 21st century. Once a luxury, where cheaper (and slower) access was an entry-level option, broadband is now necessary for accessing the technological benefits of smart cities. Broadband access is not nationwide, but the lack of high-speed options is a problem felt most in rural areas.

In seeking to obtain broadband access for its citizens, some municipalities consider acting as an internet service provider (ISP). Others avoid this step, believing that if the market hasn’t delivered broadband access to an area, there may be too low of a demand for the service. In other words, just getting broadband isn’t enough to power a smart city; there needs to be demand for the technology. One way to create this demand is to develop smart city programs that connect government with its citizens and to incentivize technology investment by businesses.

Local governments are seeking to use technology to improve operations and the lives of its citizens. These municipalities balance the needs of its citizens, however, with effective, user-friendly solutions.

Concluding thoughts

As city leaders proceed with smart city initiatives, they need to always consider how to improve the lives of citizens.  Implementing smart city applications will help improve efficiency, reduce costs, generate new sources of revenue and improve safety. A great first step is to use VantageOne Software’s Municipal Services Application, CitiSphere. Contact us today to schedule a demonstration.