Are we prepared for the future? City planners and policymakers are constantly asking themselves this question. With the influx of mobility-centered technologies poised to alter the urban landscape, a city’s ability to effectively adapt to businesses’ changing needs is critical.
What’s a smart city?
The Deloitte City Mobility Index defines a smart city as a data-driven municipality where the arrival of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and other digital technologies facilitate a “truly smart, liveable, economically vibrant city.”
Discussing smart cities in terms of an index is helpful because we’re still in an evolutionary stage. No city in the world has achieved a completely “smart” status, since technologies are still evolving, and testing is still being conducted in these real-world environments.
However, some cities have made more progress than others. That’s what I’ll cover since the areas that make the most notable advances in mobility technology may shed light on what the modern city will look like in the future.
Smart cities in the US
In the past decade, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) made large investments in implementing and testing various mobility systems throughout its urban centers.
Three cities in Wyoming, New York and Florida were selected to test technologies to improve trucking movements, pedestrian safety and mobility applications, respectively. USDOT’s Smart City Challenge also awarded $40 million to Columbus, Ohio to become a fully integrated municipality. Smaller grants were given to Pittsburgh and Denver.
The New York City Department of Transportation’s Connected Vehicle Pilot program is deploying 15 safety applications geared at providing in-vehicle warnings to motorists. In addition to installing 8,000 vehicle-to-vehicle systems within cars, taxis, trucks and buses, it installed vehicle-to-infrastructure-equipped traffic signals on bridges, avenues and highways around the city.
The San Francisco Department of Technology’s Connectivity Plan includes a fiber internet infrastructure and free Wi-Fi in heavy-use areas. An autonomous shuttle trial is taking place in the city’s Treasure Island. Additionally, there’s a local zero-emission vehicle ordinance that requires its light-duty passenger sedan fleet to go green by 2022. The city also has flourishing initiatives to support pedestrian pathways and cyclist roadways.
Smart cities in Canada
Canada has its share of initiatives to encourage the development of vehicle-to-X technologies in its major municipalities. Like many countries, it hosted a Smart City Challenge to determine which projects to make an investment. The City of Guelph and Wellington Country in Ontario were awarded a $10 million grant and Montreal, Quebec took home $50 million.
Toronto’s Transportation Services Division is running a three-year Automated Vehicles Work Plan. Its Smart Traffic Signals program aims to better manage signals to respond to real-time traffic patterns. Engagement in blockchain, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and drones is also planned.
What advancements in connected infastructure technology have you seen in your area? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.