Can smart cities really save us all 125 hours per year?

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Smart cities, and the components which comprise them, will save us all time – and a new study puts the total at 125 hours per citizen per year.

The study, put together by Intel alongside Juniper Research, found that 125 hours, or 15 working days, will be claimed in four buckets. Mobility, such as smart traffic systems, smart parking, and ‘open data platforms’ – so users can pick the least congested bus and train services – will account for 60 hours. Greater public safety – predicting crime spots through machine learning – will account for 35, while healthcare comprises nine and productivity – digital services simplifying administrative processes – will account for 21.

What could inhabitants of smart cities do with all that free time, the report asks? They could take a long holiday, get active, or spend it with family and friends. What’s more, wounds will heal quicker – if you’re not stressed, the body can recover more easily – you’re less likely to get depressed, and you’re likelier to earn more money.

According to the analysis, Singapore is the city to beat across all areas of mobility, health, safety and productivity. London, New York, Chicago and Seoul were also well placed.

“Analysts tend to focus on the technical underpinnings of building a data-centric world,” said Windows Holden, head of forecasting and consultancy at Juniper Research. “We can’t overlook the importance of the real human benefits that smart cities have. Connected communities, municipal services and processes have a powerful impact on a citizen’s quality of life.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Yet the outcome will be much more complicated than this utopian vision.

Benedict Evans, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has made a very key point on this aspect in various blog posts: with a truly smart city, the entire rules of traffic can be changed, never mind how cars will be developed. What about parking? What about cycling? What about new cities which could be built in ways which will seem alien to us today?

Tom Rebbeck, research director for enterprise and IoT at Analysys Mason, says that while looking at smart cities in terms of time saved is an interesting angle – and that indeed the opportunities outlined by the report are broadly in line with his views – but the number crunching doesn’t take into account all areas.

“The figure seems to be based on some bold assumptions,” Rebbeck tells IoT News in an email. “For example, it suggests that open data will help reduce commuting times by 15% by ‘highlighting optimum routes’.

“Possibly this holds for some car-centric US cities – even there it seems like a stretch,” adds Rebbeck. “It is hard to see how that would apply to somewhere like London where only around half of people work, and where only around a third of workers commute by car.”

There is one other issue which the report doesn’t go into: how much time this process will take. Rebbeck notes that there is no way of measuring whether the predictions are correct, adding: “I’d guess they will never happen, but there is no way of testing this either way.”

You can read the full Intel report here. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

There are conference tracks dedicated to smart cities and transportation.

The show is co-located with the AI & Big Data Expo, Cyber Security & Cloud Expo and Blockchain Expo so you can explore the entire ecosystem in one place.

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