It’s no surprise that cities all over the world are growing rapidly. In fact, in a recent report by the UN, the global urban population accounted for 54% of the world’s population, up from 34% in 1960. And that number is only going to get bigger – urban areas will add a projected 2.5 billion people, putting that urban population at 66% of the globe.
So what are we doing to make this growth manageable for everyone? What are urban planners, government officials, and transportation experts doing now to ensure we have smart cities in the future? And where does helicopter transport fit into all of this? Let’s see what some of the top smart cities in the world are doing to manage population growth and urban change.
But first, what makes a city “smart”? Experts agree that various factors like energy consumption, smartphone penetration, intelligent lighting, the use of technology to manage traffic patterns, and citizens’ access to city services all play a role in smart cities. Singapore is one shining example of a smart city. The use of technology to detect citizens smoking in unauthorized areas and 10-Gbps fiber broadband service that would enable residents to download a two-hour HD movie in 90 seconds are two smart initiatives.
In Europe, both Barcelona and London are smart cities that are engaging the citizens in their initiatives. A concern that affected many Barcelona citizens a few years ago? A drought. This smart city answered with a system of irrigation sensors that analyzes rain in the ground, along with predictive forecasting to modify the city’s sprinkler systems. Now that’s smart water conservation! And in London, technology is put to use to alleviate traffic jams. Traffic lights respond in favor of buses to smooth public transport travel, and there is smart technology available to all drivers to alert them of any congestion.
Speaking of traffic congestion, when it comes to smart cities, urban mobility is a constant challenge for developers and planners around the world. To be a true smart city, it should do these things to increase urban mobility:
1. Enable people to take informed decisions about their mobility, saving time, energy, and money.
2. Reduce waiting time while traveling within, and to/from the city, as well as emissions.
3. Optimize fleet management of buses, trains, and helicopters, in addition to smart route scheduling.
4.Facilitate intermodal commuting and make it easier for city dwellers to move from one mode of transport to the next.
Many smart cities are doing some of these things. Boston is using technology to optimize school bus routes. Not only does it reduce travel time, this new system has the potential to remove 50 unnecessary routes and save the school district between $3 million and $5 million annually. In South Korea, OLEV (online electric vehicle technology) transportation systems are automatically charged as they travel throughout the city. And they convert the magnetic fields under the road to electric energy!
Helicopter transport is now being considered one of the ways smart cities can introduce alternative, traffic reducing travel to their citizens. As urban developers consider air alternatives to reduce the amount of traffic on the ground, drones, flying cars, and helicopters all have their place in bringing transportation to our growing urban centers. BOOKmyHELO is already enabling travelers in some of the busiest cities in the world like New York, São Paulo, and Los Angeles. Reducing the amount of travelers on the ground and looking at air or underground alternatives is going to be the only way to address the challenge of our growing population.