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How Smart Cities can Help Champion the Sustainability Movement

One key point that has been central to the sustainability movement has been the explosion of the world’s population in recen

Sustainability has taken its place as a leading force that drives positive change for people and places around the world. The rise of the sustainability movement has led to innovation that has spread far beyond its roots in the conservation of natural resources, and now tackles other significant challenges presented by the growth of urban areas, the worldwide need for transportation, and other factors affecting our collective carbon footprint.


One key point that has been central to the sustainability movement has been the explosion of the world’s population in recent years. The community is only expected to continue growing, and with most of that population is concentrated around urban areas, many major cities now have no choice but to make sustainability a core factor in their future plans.


Fortunately, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has given forward-thinking municipalities many of the tools they need to lead the smart city revolution and blaze the path toward a sustainable world.


Smart City Infrastructure


A true smart city is built on an advanced framework of infrastructure designed to capture, manage, transmit, and process data created and used by both people and devices.  Smart trash cans are an excellent example of how this technology is used in an urban setting, as they are designed with technology that can detect when they are full and alert sanitation personnel that it is ready for pickup.


Cities that have implemented this kind of technology, such as Portland, report that it has not only prevented the general overflow of trash cans but has also allowed them to eliminate routine scheduled garbage pickups in minimally-used locations.  By limiting collection activity to trash cans that are full, and skipping ones that aren’t, smart cities are able to focus their time, money, and manpower more efficiently.


Managing Cities In Real-Time


There are many other ways in which smart cities can increase energy efficiency. Traffic flow can be monitored and redistributed to save on fuel consumption and road wear.   Sensors can track air quality and adjust municipal emissions accordingly. Energy usage, noise levels, and many other things can be monitored and used to trigger automated responses without even needing the intervention of a human.


The Next Steps


There are, of course, challenges involved with implementing bold ideas such as a transformation into a smart city.  Lack of support is often a limiting factor, especially in situations where the return on investment is not immediately apparent. This is why enthusiasm from citizens, businesses, and advocates within governments themselves is so critical to advancing this agenda, as is demonstrating both the practical need as well as the demand for such an ambitious project.


Reluctance to share data has proven to be another obstacle, as people, businesses, and governments have all shown an unwillingness to potentially compromise their own privacy by allowing this kind of information to fall outside their control.  Building trust isn’t easy, but it is necessary to gain the support needed to start the ball rolling on a smart city initiative.



The advent of smart cities has created the potential to change our global culture and make sustainability an attainable future reality. With the combined support of the government, businesses, and everyday people, smart cities can play a significant role in our quest to create a sustainable world that will last for many, many years to come.

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