Smart cities + Buzzwords = Match made in heaven?

July 27, 2015
Smart cities + Buzzwords = Match made in heaven?

Smart cities + buzzwords.
 
They’re a match made in heaven and will have a long-lasting and healthy relationship with one another. Big data, Internet of Things, resilience, sustainability, cybersecurity, and the list goes on and on and will grow as the idea of smart city becomes more of a reality. Even “smart city” is a buzzword; it’s a buzzword Inception.
 
For example, when you hear big data, it just sounds like a rather generic term for…a large amount of data. It’s almost like trying to define a word while using it in the actual definition; regardless, big data sounding generic is fitting, as the uses of it are so broad. Personally hearing it, the thought of smart cities is the first thing popping into mind but big data has been used by various entities throughout the urban landscape.
 
Wikipedia’s definition of it is “a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate.”  Not a very good smart cities definition but it’s not incorrect by any means. Big data, regardless of definition is at the core of many smart city initiatives. Data aggregation and analysis drive many urban spaces forward solving problems or working through theoretical solutions for said problems.
 
While smart cities are what drive urban expansion, they may not always be the answer; there are skeptics of the big data and smart city initiative. With the city populations growing higher and higher, will constant data analysis be enough to solve growing population and resource deficiencies fast enough? More people, more data, more numbers. Will this constant growth just lead to a vicious circle of numbers rising and solving issues through big data analytics as plugging a big leak every so often?
 
Many cities were simply not designed for such high population numbers and a majority of the time the smart city initiative is merely there to counteract that very issue. Smart cities are more about expansion and making the best use of what is in place already rather than a city like Songdo, which is a smart city built from the ground up. Major cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York, or Boston do not have the comfort of redesigning from the ground up. It would halt the city processes even more than congestion, traffic, and maintenance already do; cities need time that is not available to them. Big data analytics is what every smart city is “rebuilding” their urban platform on and turning what their city is into the best possible scenario without starting out on a blank slate all together.  

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