Sustainability January 2020

How collaboration holds the key to sustainable cities

Cities are often melting pots of innovation, acting as magnets for people and investment – and resulting in global metropolitan powerhouses such as London and New York.

And today's emerging economies are attracting more urban citizens than ever before. Cities in Asia and Africa are forecast to absorb 90% of the world’s 2.5 billion new urbanites by 2050, according to the United Nations.

But if cities are not well planned, managed and funded, the result can be damaging for both people and the environment – 98% of large emerging cities do not meet the World Health Organization's air quality guidelines, for example.

Technology such as artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things has an important role to play in creating sustainable cities in both the developed world and emerging economies. Many innovations are already showing promise for sectors such as transport, energy, waste, water and buildings. 

But technology alone is not enough. To reap the full benefits, we will need to harness the potential of partnerships – with technology developers working in collaboration with other companies, governments, and the investment and research communities to not only enhance urban economic productivity but also reduce environmental impact and increase wellbeing.

Cities are one of our biggest opportunities to mitigate climate change. They account for more than 70% of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions to power their buildings, industry, utilities and infrastructure.

You may want to read: Creating a smart nation underpinned by data

Key solutions include things like renewable, decentralised energy generation – rooftop solar, for example, and peer-to-peer energy systems – and intelligent grid management to help utilities monitor assets, model use and ensure efficient and cost-effective operations.

This is just one example of why partnerships will be crucial. Underpinning "smart city" elements such as intelligent energy is a mass of data that enables pattern recognition, energy use modelling, forecasting and so on. GeoSpock's spatial big data expertise can instantly turn this data into actionable insights for anything from intelligent, sensor-based grid management to operations optimisation and asset monitoring.

As the pace of change continues to accelerate, collaborative solutions will be a vital part of ensuring we create cities that are intelligent and sustainable, as well as places people want to live and work.

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