Post COVID-19 and Smart Cities

The post COVID-19 evolution of Smart Cities will feature the addition of new dimensions, opportunities and priorities. Urban planners are already creating new physical models like the One Minute City in Sweden, the Fifteen Minute City in Paris, Nature Towns in Texas and the Superblock Community in Barcelona where nine-block areas at a time are being considered for new neighbourhood designs.

Meanwhile, social activists, city governments and real estate executives are exploring the possibilities of using excess business spaces for affordable housing while the Global Smart City business has become a trillion-dollar business, predicted to reach $3 trillion by 2025.

These new physical and social dimensions are all happening at a time of important technology transformation. Our broadband communications infrastructures continue to evolve with 5G communications in its early rollout stages while networks of Low Earth Orbiting Satellites are on the way. At the same time, autonomous transit shuttles, drone deliveries and many other new technologies and sensors are being introduced daily to support hundreds of new applications dealing with safety, security, enhanced productivity, sustainability and municipal operations.

Some cities and regions are creating new land sites just for testing new technologies and new systems, a strategy which often attracts new technology companies too. For example, the City of Ottawa, through Invest Ottawa has dedicated a very large piece of land for testing autonomous transit shuttles and other purposes. Ottawa will ultimately become a major centre for the evolution of autonomous vehicles.

autonomous transit shuttle

Photo credit: Invest Ottawa, via Ottawa Business Journal

COVID-19 has highlighted the broadband deficits in Canada and other countries, particularly in rural regions and low-income areas in cities. Fortunately, some new digital technologies are now available to quickly facilitate up to one gigabit of bandwidth on twisted pairs of copper wire or on coax cable. Fibre is not required for this important and low-cost bandwidth boost where older buildings do not have to be rewired, or fibered to receive higher bandwidths. Stay tuned!

Although the new ideas mentioned above are all very exciting, the creation of award-winning Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities will continue to feature proven processes and the identification of critical success factors. Effective municipal management and relevant Smart City governance will continue to be critical success factors for ensuring effective transformations with significant benefits from these new opportunities.

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