New urban user experience
Think of the smart city as providing new experiences for its citizens. The smart city is to some extent already around us all the time. Today we use smart phones, the wireless Internet, net books and tablets, sensor networks, smart meters, and RFID tags. At the same time, we experience social media like Twitter and Facebook, ‘apps’ and Google maps. Indeed, many cities offer e-services to their citizens.
However, the smart city also describes a step-change in both intensity and extent of connection, in that almost all aspects of infrastructure – from transit networks to energy, waste and water; from housing to street trees – can wirelessly communicate information about their activities via sensors and networks. This concept is known as ‘the internet of things’, in which almost every device can produce and receive information about to some degree.
Smart urban infrastructure can keep track of city operations, predicting faults before they occur, while optimising delivery of resources or services to match demand. Sensors, located on existing infrastructure, can monitor water quality or air quality or mobile phone data, revealing patterns of movement and energy use in the city.