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Introducing the ‘smart city’

In this video, Karsten Schulz introduces the concept of the ‘smart’ city.
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KARSTEN SCHULZ: What is the future of the urban environment, what will it look like, and how will new technologies affect our human behaviour? Will advanced technologies be used to address global challenges, such as climate change? Or will they control us in the process? And how can we use technology as a force for good without pretending that it can solve all of our problems? Whatever the future may look like, the potential benefits and risks of technology must be carefully considered if we want to adapt our societies to a changing climate.
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KARSTEN SCHULZ: Advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, broadband internet connections, and sensors for data collection are increasingly important for urban planning and urban governance. The United Nations and governments have recently begun to explore how artificial intelligence can be used in cities to ensure the most efficient use of resources, paving the way for a global alliance on smart cities. Smart city technologies and programmes have been implemented in hundreds of cities across China and in large metropolitan areas, such as New York, Singapore, and Dubai.
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KARSTEN SCHULZ: How would such a smart city look like? The key feature of smart cities is the use of digital technologies to support urban development. The key challenges for urban development today are sustainability and the environmental impact of cities. Cities are consuming more and more resources, such as drinking water, and produce large amounts of waste. Plastic waste, for example, has become a major problem for sustainability, and a large amount of single use plastic products are consumed in cities. The smart city promises to reduce the complexities of sustainable urban development through the collection and analysis of large amounts of data via sensors and the internet.
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KARSTEN SCHULZ: From buildings and mobility, to the provision of utilities, goods, and services, such as improved waste management, digital technologies pervade the smart city. Applications, such as smart energy grids and traffic guidance systems, are drivers of the digital transition in urban governance. Cities are supposed to become more sustainable and resource efficient through the automated analysis of large amounts of data that are collected in the urban environment. If city planners know the precise amount of resources that are consumed in the city and where exactly they are consumed, or if they can see how traffic flows can be optimised, digital change can yield concrete benefits for urban adaptation.
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KARSTEN SCHULZ: So what happens if technology becomes an integral part of our cities? Will cities become more sustainable? And who developed smart cities? How might smart cities differ depending on local context and culture? And finally, what are the risks and challenges? We will try to answer these questions in the following steps.
In this video step you will be introduced to the concept of the ‘smart’ city and learn how advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data analytics can be used to advance urban adaptation.
The ‘smart city’ promises to reduce the complexities of sustainable urban development and adaptation through the collection and subsequent analysis of large amounts of data via sensors and the internet. From buildings and mobility to the provision of utilities, goods and services such as improved waste management – digital technologies pervade the ‘smart city’.
After watching the ‘smart city’ video, you may also want to visit the website of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance to gain more information about ‘smart city’ technologies. Explore the website, and try to answer the following question: Why is governance needed for the ethical and responsible use of smart city technologies?
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Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change

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