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How realistic is a Smart City without people?

Plans for a unique new Smart City are forging ahead in New Mexico. What makes it unique? There’s not going to be any people in it.


But how is that going to work? Surely, what makes a city alive is the people who live there: the idea is the brainchild of Center for Innovation Testing and Evaluation (CITE) and the vision is essentially to create a large-scale testbed for new technologies, such as driverless vehicles and intelligent transport systems (ITS), without the concern of anybody getting hurt.

Take a look for yourself here at their plans.

We would argue (as indeed others have) that it is the random acts and unpredictable non-linear movements of humans that make cities so complex – and challenges such as road traffic accidents almost impossible to eradicate.

These challenges are managed more effectively through traffic data solutions, traffic counters, congestion monitoring, parking bay monitoring, traffic data collection, traffic safety and related products designed to enhance the Smart City concept in practice.

From one angle, providing such a testbed (assuming it is accessible) is a great way for companies to alpha test new technologies in a ‘safe’ environment, providing strong learning about functional capabilities, as well as enabling capture of good benchmark test data and perhaps providing confidence to test further in more realistic environments as long as certain safety and other criteria can be met.

It may even be said to offer a good blueprint for brand new greenfield cities.

On the flipside, from what has been said about this real-life SIM CITY, there are many variables that it will not replicate that could lead to companies developing very idealistic solutions that completely fall foul of the real-world practicalities of deploying technologies in an existing busy city environment.

Severe weather conditions, unforeseen problems with utilities, irregular traffic patterns due to events or major traffic incidents and human behaviour resulting from changes in these variables – all of these areas which are very real conditions of living in most cities of the world are not going to be replicable as part of this model.

As long as this caveat is taken into account, this may yield some good learning and provoke new thinking for the future.

If nothing else, it will help us to raise the profile of the incredible challenge we face to house the growing population of our cities across the world over the next 50 years.

If you have a more immediate challenge that you would like assistance with and to find out more about how Clearview Traffic are assisting in the development of Smart Cities please get in touch here.
Uploaded 30/07/2015