Article by Jane Marsh
Smart cities are starting to become more common as technology advances. Urban areas use information and communication technology to improve efficiency and collect data. They can help improve environmental issues by reducing consumption, waste, and resource costs. These issues are prevalent in cities as pollution increases and more energy is consumed. Here are a few ways a smart city can combat these issues, and drive sustainable development.
1. A Smart City Can Provide Access to Clean Drinking Water
Some areas don’t have access to clean drinking water due to contamination. Without proper waste-management systems, chemicals from manufacturing processes enter the home. This then leads to illness and can eventually cause water scarcity issues.
Artificial intelligence (AI) waste-management systems can help. They use technology to analyze water-shortage impacts and the factors that lead to them. Plus, remote-sensing data can help to detect blockages or damage to pipes or other features of the water system. These are essential for delivering clean drinking water and responding to emergency-related damage.
2. A Smart City Can Encourage the Use of Clean Energy
Energy consumption can release greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change. Much of this energy comes from non-renewable sources, such as fossil fuels. Cities tend to add to this problem. With a higher population, cities consume more energy. People use power to cook, run heating appliances, and charge their devices. In fact, cities consume about 78% of the world's energy.
Also, with increased economic development, they demand larger amounts of electricity. Switching to alternative sources, like solar or wind power, can reduce this problem.
Smart cities can also use technology to communicate and optimize the precise use of resources. Tools track real-time data from residential and commercial buildings. The information is then analyzed to see how much energy certain areas need.
3. A Smart City Can Help Fight Poverty
In 2017, more than 821 million people were chronically malnourished. This issue is both worsened and complicated by the expensive cost of city living and the food waste that happens in these metro areas.
Smart cities can use big data technologies to combat this issue. Technology can collect the specific number of people living in unstable situations. The next step would be to separate this information based on geographic region.
Data-intensive laboratories, such as Berkeley University, analyze how algorithms could improve sustainably. For example, data specialists could interpret population statistics to determine critical economic indicators.
Researchers are also looking at using mobile technology to provide financial services. This offers broader access to essential resources for lower-income individuals. We can also use data from satellite networks and field experiments to understand the wider causes of global poverty.
4. A Smart City Can Help Fight Climate Change
Climate change has been causing the global temperature to rise by about 0.13°F per decade since 1880. Other impacts of climate change are more intense storms and rising sea levels. This impacts marine life as well as humans.
One of the top causes of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. Cities contribute to carbon emissions through transport systems that rely on fossil fuels. Plus, many buildings are made with carbon-intensive materials, such as steel and concrete.
Some builders are already making changes, such as installing LED lighting or sustainable insulation. Cellulose insulation is a good choice because it's made from recycled newspapers.
We can also track energy data to improve efficiency. For example, computer tools can analyze how much power HVAC systems use daily. With this information, homeowners can try to reduce their overall consumption.
5. It Can Protect Our Oceans
Many coastal areas rely on marine life to eat and make a living. However, our oceans have become contaminated due to pollution, pesticides, and harsh chemicals. Also, global warming has led to the melting of icecaps. We can use data-gathering technology to monitor sea levels and toxicity.
We can then implement strategies to counter problem areas. These include things like restricting algae growth and restoring oxygen to dead zones. Cities can also enforce a plastic ban and invest in effective waste-management systems. For example, nitrates from farm runoff can be converted into fertilizer.
6. It Can Encourage More Green Spaces
Forests are home to a wide variety of diverse wildlife and plants. They depend on this natural environment to survive. We also rely on plants and animals as food sources. Plus, forests provide us with lumber, and the trees help absorb carbon dioxide. We can use intelligent technologies to collect data on the different environments species need to flourish.
Integrating green spaces into cities is essential for sustainable development. It also gives people a place to relax away from the busyness of the city. So, we need to start cleaning the city streets and adding more vegetation in public areas. A greener city also allows for local produce shipments, lowering the collective carbon footprint further.
7. It Can Reduce Waste Accumulation
In cities, waste can accumulate through construction, overproduction, and food waste. Many of these products then end up in landfills. They release methane gas when they break down, contributing to climate change.
So, it’s essential to figure out how to extend a product's life cycle. Certain countries are already taking creative steps. Singapore crystallizes the ash from waste incineration to create basic building materials. It’s also critical to have proper waste management. For example, smart sensors can alert garage crews when bins overflow with trash.
Intelligent Cities Can Help the Planet
Cities tend to contribute to climate issues due to their dense populations. They consume more energy and resources. However, smart cities can use innovative technology to track data and implement solutions.
Article by Jane Marsh
Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of
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