I’m sitting here in a large convention center in Los Angeles about to deliver the closing keynote at the Southern California Public Power Authority annual conference. It’s basically a gathering of the top municipal utilities in Southern California that serve more than 5 million people and deliver 16% of all power used in the sunny state.
A big topic in the event is “smart cities.” Smart cities aren’t exactly reality yet, but they’re becoming reality. So, what’s a smart city?
Just think The Jetsons.
In 1962, The Jetsons cartoon came on the scene and gave us an idyllic world enabled by technology. Things like video chat, holograms, jet packs, 3D printed food, and smartwatches were science fiction at the time. These things are all reality today. While the vision for a truly “smart city” might seem like science fiction to some, it’s fast becoming reality.
Smart Cities are fully connected, sustainable, energy efficient, and socially friendly communities that use their infrastructure to intelligently improve the quality of life of those who live and visit there. According to Dukku Lee, the General Manager of Anaheim Public Utilities, for example, Anaheim recently installed a number of remote “wildfire cameras” to detect and prevent wildfires. Other speakers at the conference included various experts in energy like Southern California Edison, as well as companies building out smart city infrastructure like T-Mobile and Panasonic. Some of the key elements of Smart Cities include:
While technology enables much of what makes a city “smart,” – like sensors, data analytics, etc. – the future really isn’t about technology as an end itself, but rather serving the needs of the various stakeholders that comprise a community. Using technology to solve social problems while improving quality of life is truly the definition of “smart.”