By Salah M. Alajeel
In the 1970s Los Angeles city was the first to collect citywide data to help make its inhabitants’ lives easier. This project was named a cluster analysis of Los Angeles’. This was arguably the first time the idea of a smart city was implemented, although the term ‘Smart city’ had not been coined yet.
In the year 1994, Amsterdam created a virtual smart city. These two events led to the birth of smart cities’ ideas, and a race to make the most efficient city was started. Since then, smart cities’ idea has been developed further, the technologies improved, and the ideas implemented.
In the recent decade, several cities have upgraded themselves to the smart city status. In 2005, CISCO, a company specializing in networks and cybersecurity, invested over $25 million in research into smart cities. The investment sparked the interest of other companies that wanted to be trailblazers in this relatively new venture.
In 2008, IBM started their research into smart cities through its Smarter planet project. This project aimed at investigating the integration of sensors, networks, and data management technologies into urban areas. The promise that this project showed led to their investing $50 million in research that would see smart cities run more efficiently just a year later.
In 2009, the American government started funding for smart grid projects. In the same year, the EU passed a directive that required its members to roll out smart meters to consumers.
All the research and funding led to the development of technologies that led to more advanced cities.
In 2011, the first smart city expo was held in Barcelona. It helped bring exposure to the technologies involved in the creation of smart cities. The expo also sensitized most of the general public to smart cities.
As a result of the smart city expo in 2012, Barcelona developed systems that collected data and analyzed it to make transport, lighting, and parking more efficient.
In 2013, china joined the race to create smart cities by commissioning a large-scale switch to smart cities. They started the pilot program for the switch to smart cities with 90 cities. The year after, they added 103 more cities to the list of cities they were to upgrade.
In 2015, India joined the race and commissioned the development of 100 cities into smart cities. This helped in the growth of the popularity of the idea further. And with the growth in the success of smart cities, more interest was shown.
Competitions on smart city resources were organized. These were held to test the efficiency and effectiveness of some smart city resources. In 2016, Columbus’s city won $50 million for their ideas addressing the challenges people faced in transportation.
The success of the pilot projects fanned the growth of the popularity of the idea of smart cities. With the growth in popularity came more exposure, hence the development of better technologies and sensors. The competitions and funding that smart city projects have received have spurred the growth of smart city projects. Smart cities are appearing everywhere globally, and they will continue to do so till all cities are as efficient as possible.