Tuesday, March 26, 2019   15:12:07
Smart city technology could dramatically improve quality-of-life indicators
A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report has found smart city technology can improve various indicators of residents’ quality of life by a noticeable amount.

The research by MGI, the business and economics research arm of McKinsey&Company, found smart cities can save between 30 and 300 lives per year in a city with a population of 5 million; reduce crime by 30-40%; reduce disease risk by 8-15%; shave 15-30 minutes off the daily commute; save 25-80 liters of water per person per day and enable 20-35% quicker response times for emergency services.

"'Smartness' is not just installing digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure or streamlining city operations," the report reads. "It is about using technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life.”

Research in the last year alone has found that smart cities and innovative technology can have all kinds of benefits for urban dwellers. This includes a report from Intel that smart technology can save citizens 125 hours a year, while smart building technology could save on utility bills. Based on the reports that have proliferated in the last year alone, cities becoming smarter should be of great benefit to their residents. In addition, leaders have been warned by some of their counterparts of the population reduction if they do not make their cities smarter.

But there is still plenty to do, even for those cities that are leading the way in technological advances. McKinsey found that even among the most advanced, like Amsterdam, New York and Seoul, they are "only about two-thirds of the way toward what constitutes a fully comprehensive technology base today." That shows how much work still lies ahead for all cities, who must do this while balancing other budget needs, although McKinsey suggested making further use of public-private partnerships (P3s) to alleviate the cost burdens.

And while the benefits of smart technology are clear for city residents according to this report’s findings, it noted the importance of innovating in an equitable way, to ensure that no one is left behind and that all citizens are engaged. Experts have said previously that a lack of trust between government and its residents can affect the implementation of new innovations, especially in neighborhoods that have traditionally been left behind. But by innovating equitably, they can help raise up vulnerable communities and ensure the benefits reach everyone.

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