“The current reality of smart cities is that there aren’t any,” asserts a recent Scientific American article. And it’s true. While there are a number of cities with “smart” elements, such as networked cameras and traffic signals or daylight-sensing streetlights, most of today’s smart cities are made up of smart projects within traditional infrastructures, not footings-up connectivity.
Today’s smart cities intermix digital and hard infrastructures, and the interface of elements and technologies can make smart city planning a challenge. While some experts in the field explain that creating smart cities will require communities to strike a balance between maintaining current infrastructure and incorporating the digital capabilities of the future, others are choosing to start fresh and build smart cities from the ground up.
As an example, Cascade Investment, a firm run by Bill Gates, plans to transform a raw piece of land into a smart city built around a flexible infrastructure model. The firm recently allocated $80 million to develop Belmont, a settlement on the forefront of smart city technology, on 25,000 acres of land in Arizona. The development will include 80,000 homes; 3,800 acres of industrial, office, and retail space; and 470 acres for public schools.
“Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” says Belmont Partners, the Arizona real estate investment company involved in the deal, in a news release.
What are your thoughts? Is the footings-up planning method realistic? What strategies do you suggest for integrating smart city technology with hard infrastructure?