Smart Cities can change the urban way of life in Africa providing safer neighbourhoods, very low traffic-congestion, a low carbon environment and houses that run themselves. All these futuristic-sounding innovations will be available not at some point in the far future but in the next five years according to the upcoming Smart Cities summit in South Africa.
The changes brought to city-dwellers’ lives by Smart Cities will take place in five main ways:
1. Intelligent Transport Systems. Intelligent cars and roads, based on the application of technological innovations such as roadside sensors, radio frequency tags, and global positioning systems can deal effectively with the rising volumes of traffic congestion.
2. Smart Government. South Africa is already trying to implement the e-Government strategy, which is meant to improve the government’s interaction with its citizens and enable them to access services and information by a mere click of a button from a single portal. This lessens the need for hard copy forms, eliminates the necessity for physical travel to government departments, and hopefully improves record keeping through computerisation.
3. Smarter Buildings. This includes buldings with energy efficient characteristics like central heating and cooling systems, energy efficient appliances, and energy efficient lighting. Propelling this change is newly introduced energy efficiency building regulations that make it compulsory for the construction industry to adopt environmentally considerate methods.
4. Savvy Consumers. The use of smart, energy load-limiting meters, combined with smart appliances means that appliances can be turned on and off according to signals from the grid. With the smart grid, consumers can also have a two-way conversation with the electricity provider.
5. Smarter People. Smarter cities can only reach their potential through smarter people, a workforce that is properly educated and qualified in the latest technologies, as well as in a position to understand the unique African experience. The quality of services particularly in education will matter more in the new Smart Cities.
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