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January 25, 2022

Smart Cities: The Way To Build a Sustainable World

Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2025, this figure is expected to reach 70%. This rapid urbanization process has led to numerous problems, such as high energy consumption, carbon emissions, pollution, social inequality, and traffic congestion. A long list of challenges that are included in the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, which places the development of smarter and more sustainable cities as a key issue.

Smart cities provide a solution to address the problems arising from rapid urbanization, driving transformation, innovation, and improving social aspects. They rely on digital infrastructure to build smart buildings, transportation systems, public services, etc. Disruptive technologies such as IoT and AI are key to ensuring the success of smart cities. We explain why.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is defined ad a complex and interconnected system that uses new technologies (ICT) to create better infrastructures with the goal of managing the proper functioning of the essential aspects of a city, from transportation to the use of energy resources, sustainability, and improvement of the urban or commercial structure.

Basically, it is a smart network of sensors and connected objects that transmit data using the Cloud. The IoT applications that receive this data analyze this information, and manage it to improve the quality of life of citizens. All in real-time.

Sustainable Smart Cities

Smart cities are the way forward to improve the lives of citizens while achieving a sustainable city model. They improve operational efficiency, as well as urban services and competitiveness, in addition to addressing the economic, social, and environmental challenges we face today and in the future.

The Challenges of Sustainable Smart Cities

The challenges that smart cities face are numerous, the biggest one being to achieve a telecommunications infrastructure that is stable, secure, reliable and interoperable so that it can support at a large scale.

Thanks to breakthroughs in technologies such as IoT, AI, networking, and 5G, the expansion of smart cities around the world has become much easier. These technologies can address major issues such as urban mobility and city saturation, as well as security, transparency, inclusiveness, and energy efficiency, among many others.

An example is our CITYPLAIN project, a technological application created for the standardization and integration of urban and architectural design processes, capable of designing affordable housing in urban districts, as well as their general systems. Moreover, following functional, environmental, and socio-economic indicators.

IoT and AI Applied in Smart Cities

At the rate at which cities are growing, it is expected that following the overall population growth, urbanization will add another 2.5 billion people by 2040. Fortunately, almost 200 countries have already committed to sustainable growth targets and IoT or Artificial Intelligence are key to making sure we meet them.

Cloud-based software applications receive, manage and analyze the data that connected networks send, transforming it into intelligent data that helps improve the way we interact, work and travel in real-time.

A crucial element in ensuring the success of a smart city is pervasive wireless connectivity. But we also find more, such as open data or security.

Wireless Connectivity

When we talk about wireless connectivity and IoT applied to Smart Cities, we are talking about everyday elements such as street lighting and the possibility of incorporating a smart lightning platform. These Cloud-hosted solutions go beyond just ordinary lightning, as they can alert citizens about mobility problems, weather warnings, environmental problems, inform about parking spaces, etc.

Open Data

Something essential to the smooth functioning of a smart city is sharing of information among the participants in this complex ecosystem. The combination of this with contextual data that is analyzed at the moment makes it possible for this analysis and decision-making in real-time to be effective and sustainable.


Here we are referring to two things: the protection of citizens and cities thanks to monitoring systems, and the protection of the previously mentioned data against cyber-attacks.

This is why it’s so important to create strong authentication ecosystems, as well as have robust security solutions against intrusions or hackers.

The Elements of a Sustainable Smart City

The advantages and elements of smart cities are numerous, ranging from economic benefits to those of a more social and environmental nature. The most relevant are:

  • Improved public safety: Thanks to video surveillance and smart sensors, accidents or crimes can be detected immediately.
  • More effective decision-making: By relying on data strategy, the desired metrics can be monitored in real-time, thus improving the quality of services.
  • Reduced environmental footprint: Technology is allowing us to understand our environment better in order to reduce our impact and manage climate change.
  • Improved mobility: Smart cities help to improve traffic flow, reducing traffic jams, facilitating public transport use, designing better spaces for pedestrians, and reducing pollution.
  • More livable cities: Technology provides predictive analytical reports to identify areas in which to improve infrastructure, in addition to increasing the comfort of inhabitants.
  • Promotes social development: The needs of the city and its inhabitants are more easily identified, providing planning of complimentary services.

Smart cities offer us the possibility of improving the quality of life of the population thanks to their potential to collect data from different information sources and apply them to asset and resource management solutions. Moreover, adopting these models is the way to ensure sustainability in our cities. If you want to know how we do it, visit our Smart Cities solutions page.

And don’t miss our success story with Heijmans, a project where we used digital twins to improve sustainability and user experience across the entire road and infrastructure network in the Netherlands.

Elena Canorea
Elena Canorea
Communications Lead