The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the disadvantages of city life. Dense populations, polluted air and a heavy reliance on public transportation are among the conditions allowing the current pandemic to spread.
Yet, the pandemic also provides an opportunity for urban planners to address ways to improve city life. With fewer drivers commuting to work, pollution has decreased. Roads have been re-appropriated by bikers and pedestrians, with miles of new bike lanes appearing nearly overnight. Commercial property is losing its appeal as more employees work from home which could, in turn, lead to new uses for empty buildings.
Because, ultimately, the appeal of city life is unlikely to disappear. As centres of culture, education and entertainment, cities will continue to thrive and attract tourists and new residents. Instead, COVID-19 provides the opportunity to consider how a city is structured, maintained and can be improved.
Leveraging the benefits of smart cities
The smart use of data and technology can help cities enhance quality of life, services and sustainability. For example, smart technologies can improve transport services, support businesses and monitor air quality.
Data are the foundation of a smart city. The Internet of Things (IoT) provides the ability to easily and cheaply collect data and, using algorithms, it is possible to analyze the data in real-time in order to formulate an overall picture of what is going on in a given area and how it can be improved. As a result, residents can enjoy the benefits of data and technology to learn more about their surroundings and make more knowledgeable choices.
Yet, as Google’s Sidewalk Labs recently learned following the opposition to their plans for the Quayside project in Toronto, local community involvement is essential and issues regarding data collection and usage must be addressed.
Work of the IEC
The IEC has developed many standards that are important for the efficient functioning of cities. However, rather than addressing each of these standards in isolation, the IEC developed a systems approach to smart city standards.
The SyC Smart cities is active in coordinating the standards work of various IEC committees as well as other groups such as ISO with the aim of promoting the development of standards to assist in the integration, interoperability and effectiveness of city systems.
While SyC Smart Cities may develop some systems standards, such as frameworks or use cases, its most important role is to bring the expertise of the 20,000 IEC experts to help solve the problems of cities, and to collaborate with other standards development organizations to develop coherent packages of city standards