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Smartening up the City:
New technologies promise a breakthrough for efforts to improve urban living
As the world becomes more and more urban, mayors and municipalities are striving to make their cities smarter. In theory at least, information and communications technologies can keep traffic moving, detect and prevent crime, monitor the condition of roads, lighting, parks and other urban infrastructure and efficiently allocate public resources.
In practice, making existing cities smart is proving hard. Many different stakeholders need to be involved, while sensors, controls and connectivity can be difficult to install in dense urban environments. In response, some cities are now experimenting with low cost, low power Internet of Things technologies that could usher in a new wave of smart city applications. In the medium-term, 5G technologies are also promising to give municipalities access to ultra-reliable, low latency bandwidth. Is the smart city era finally upon us?