Smart Cities: One Year Later

It has been roughly one year since cities across North America shut down, as businesses closed their doors and families mostly stayed in their own homes. Over time, things have slowly changed. Businesses have reopened and families’ bubbles have become a little bit bigger. But where does this leave our cities?
Last summer, I had an opportunity to get an inside look at how three transit experts were making big decisions about their cities in a time that much was still very much unknown. Some of the biggest challenges at the time were the virus itself and that it was an evolving discussion, with guidance changing all the time, making it difficult to plan. Now that we have a little bit of a better idea of what comes next it is time to ramp back up and have a real discussion about what our cities of the future will look like.
One thing is certain—technology will be at the center of what comes next. We can use the IoT (Internet of Things), sensors, AI (artificial intelligence), and more to improve traffic flow, to heighten safety, and to bring greater sustainability. It is the technology we put into our cities, but it is also the technologies we use during construction that can bring us to a more sustainable future.
Enter digital twin. Cityzenith suggests 70% of the world’s carbon emissions come from cities—and digital twin just might hold the key to reversing this. A bold statement, but let’s explore it further. We know digital twins can be used in both manufacturing and construction to better understand complex information—but now they can also be used to tap into urban resilience and lower carbon emissions.
This company’s AI technology platform specializes in energy resilience and has recently launched an international campaign to help cities become climate-friendly under the banner of its Clean Cities – Clean Future campaign. Cityzenith will donate its SmartWorldPro2 solution to up to 100 cities in the next three years to help them become carbon neutral. Cityzenith CEO Michael Jansen is adamant that the solution to the effective measurement and management of carbon emissions within urban areas is digital twin technology.
In my book, Sustainable in a Circular World, I make the case there should be a fourth pillar to ESG (environmental, social, and governance). The fourth pillar is digital transformation, which intersects with all the other pillars and will arise from innovative future generations. We need the data and the insights they generate to deliver a new value proposition for investors, corporations, and consumers alike. Digital twin and AI will certainly be one part of that journey.
As our cities continue to open up in the course of the next year, what technologies do you believe we need to tap into next? Cities looked drastically different one year ago. What will they look like one year from now? Anything is possible with some fortitude, vision, and a little bit of technology.