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Breaking Down the Smart City

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May 6, 2020—The smart city concept is not new. In fact, it's been defined here and there since 2018.  Yet, more reports are predicting the smart city concept to become more prominent in 2020 and beyond. Why? The connected car is here.

No matter the location, a smart city is developed by using data and digital technology to improve the city's infrastructure and way of life. 

For the month of May, ADAPT is exploring how vehicle connectivity impacts the repair shop today in the future. Now that more manufacturers are adding features to make their cars act like smartphones, cars will be instrumental in the development of more smart cities around the U.S.

Here we break down exactly what comprises a smart city and how the vehicle plays a role into that structure.

TLDR: How the Smart City Impacts a Repairer

The service repair shop or collision repair shop is not immune to the effects of smart city development for a few reasons. For one, the repair business is a business that can offer up sensor data within a city or benefit from tracking city traffic data to find which areas see more drivers or accidents. More drivers and more accidents equal more work. And, when a vehicle is connected wirelessly, it can send notice of accidents to the OEMs, first responders and find data on which body shop is available.

A smart city has the potential to bridge the gap between the automotive industry and the non-automotive industry. 


How Chicago Set Up its Smart City

In 2016, a network of sensor boxes mounted on light posts began collecting real-time data on Chicago's environmental surroundings and urban activity, according to the ASH Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School.

As of 2019, the data from those sensors was made accessible online for urban planners, researchers and the general public. This was all part of the city's Array of Things (AoT) project that launched in 2016. In effect, it serves as a kind of fitness tracker for the city and measures the noise, climate and air quality as well.

Data from AoT can be used to predict weather conditions and traffic safety accidents. So, for example, a repairer could access the data and theoretically predict when the busier times for accidents and vehicle damage will occur.


Elements to a Smart City

According to IoT Now Magazine, there are four key elements to a smart city.

Element #1

The first key building block is a reliable wireless connectivity. For example, low power wide area network technologies work well for a smart city. Recently, talks of using 5G spectrum have begun to increase the possibility of vehicle connectivity and smart city connectivity. 

Element #2 

The second key to a smart city is that data and information is shared. For example, if a city is preparing to host the Olympics, data sharing with Uber and Airbnb is essential to prevent a clogged city infrastructure like roadways.

Element #3

The third element is a trusted ID management solution. This essentially enables a secure digital connection between parties in the smart city ecosystem when it comes to data sharing.

Element #4

Lastly, a smart city needs to be built around a sustainable monetisation solution. Each ecosystem member's intellectual property needs to be valued and rewarded. Some examples of members of the smart city include city developers, OEMs and governments.


Explanations of a Smart City 

One online dictionary defines a smart city as a city or town where communication and IT are used to help manage the city and its services. 

IBM defines a smart city a is one that uses technology to transform its core systems and optimize the return from largely finite resources. 

Automotive companies like Toyota are looking towards designing vehicles to connect within this concept of a smart city. Toyota earlier in 2020 announced its intent to build the Woven City at a 175-acre site at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. 

"Akio Toyoda's vision is to really create this, what he calls, "living laboratory" and the vision is for leading automotive companies, technology companies and various future-oriented companies around the world want to participate can come together in this city in Japan and test technologies that will advance human societies around the world," Nathan Kokes, mobility and advanced technology communications manager for Toyota Motor North America, says in a previous ADAPT report.

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