Green Tech

Are we on our way towards zero-emission cities?

Madrid is leading the way, but other metropolies will follow: New technologies are transforming the concept of a "Smart City", enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving quality of life. Real-time data collection and IoT connectivity enable informed decision-making, while AI predicts and prevents potential problems. Digital platforms provide better access to services like transportation and healthcare. The result: a more sustainable, liveable environment for all.

Why is the concept of a smart city becoming increasingly popular? One of the explanations is that urban areas around the world face challenges such as growing populations, resource scarcity and environmental concerns. And smart cities are trying to find solutions to tackle these issues.

Smart cities are defined as urban areas that use technology to improve the quality of life for residents, as well as to optimise the use of resources and increase the efficiency of urban services. Digital, information, and communication technologies are the foundation of smart cities and they are used to manage assets and resources more effectively, reduce waste and costs, and enhance communication and decision-making processes. According to the latest Tech Trend Radar of ERGO and Munich Re, this can involve the use of sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, big data analytics, and other technologies to gather and analyse data.

All we need within 15 minutes

While many of us are likely familiar with the concept of student housing, the use of the term "15-minute city" in the context of modern urban planning may not be as immediately obvious. A better quality of life and everything a city dweller needs close to his or her home, or more precisely, reachable within 15 minutes on foot or by bicycle. This is the basic idea behind the 15-minute city. Whether it's to get to work, school, stores, restaurants, playgrounds, doctors’ offices, parks, or theatres, the idea is "access for everyone and at all times," according to Carlos Moreno of the Paris Sorbonne, who first formulated the idea in 2016. It's an urbanist concept of "human-centred design", which puts people and their needs at the forefront. On the other hand, the 15-minute city is also associated with a clear mobility concept. Because crucially, it is supposed to have fewer cars and more space for cyclists and pedestrians.

Technologies to boost urban living

Many countries are currently designing and building smart cities, with well-known projects including Neom/The Line in Saudi Arabia, Energy Island in Denmark, and projects in Korea and Germany. In addition to these larger-scale projects, there are also many smaller-scale initiatives aimed at optimizing specific urban services. For example, some airports are implementing biometric recognition systems for security purposes, while cities are optimizing traffic in real-time by using smart traffic lights. The benefits of smart cities are numerous and include improved energy efficiency, reduced traffic congestion and more effective waste management. 

"Areas of e-Governance, Urban Mobility, Critical Services Management (Water, Waste and Energy) and Sustainability have been identified as critical areas for the implementation of Smart Solutions," the IT expert continues: "Currently, 100 cities across India have been identified, and the implementation of solutions is in progress."

Quarter-hour also for companies

Additionally, smart cities can improve public safety, promote economic growth, and enhance the overall quality of life for residents. The Smart Cities Marketplace plays an important role in speeding up the green transition of cities in Europe. The example of the most prolific countries on the old continent is Spain, where Madrid is working to create what it claims to be Europe's largest zero-emission urban development area once it is ready - basically, an entire district called Madrid Nuevo Norte.

The idea of building "Smart Cities" is becoming increasingly prevalent and involves the integration of a range of cutting-edge technologies, many of which are discussed in details in the 2023 Tech Trend Radar report. From artificial intelligence and 5G/6G networks to extended reality (XR), sustainable energy, cyber solutions and robotics/automation. Of course, these technologies offer exciting new possibilities for businesses. These may include "pay for use" insurance models, performance guarantees and embedded insurance services. The pace of implementation may depend on the level of investment appetite, but starting small-scale pilots can help companies test and adapt their strategies to the needs of a rapidly evolving urban landscape.

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