The difference between a smart city and a future-ready city is in the name.
“Smart” city implies that cities can be dumb, and this isn’t the case. A future-ready city is one that is continuously evolving, taking existing data and knowing where improvements must be made. It’s a city that knows citizens need Wi-Fi, transportation, infrastructure, energy, and everything in between, and it’s prepared to provide all that and more. There is plenty that cities can do to become future-ready, especially when it comes to building clean energy infrastructure.
Orlando, Florida is a prime example of a future-ready city. In early 2020, Orlando launched its first-ever Future-Ready City Plan in an effort “to be a center of innovation, technological advancement and resilience.” This future-ready plan is supported by the city’s past motions, including piloting autonomous vehicles (driverless cars) in 2017 and a “digital city hall” with an open-source data portal for maximum transparency. The City of Orlando should serve as a roadmap for other American cities looking to be future-ready — adopting an island mentality is not advisable. We’re all in this together.
Innovations Driving Future-Ready Cities
Cities can innovate through building codes requiring green spaces in urban environments, or placing solar panels on building roofs and parking lots to power the city’s energy grid. And with private-public partnerships, companies can provide solutions to cities for clean energy infrastructure. We can create new formulas — advertising on solar carports and smart benches can help cities afford these future-ready solutions. For example, the iSun Oasis Smart Solar Bench offers several benefits to both cities and citizens. The solar-powered bench is entirely off-grid, adding nothing to city energy costs. It has intelligent data analysis that measures the air quality, noise, humidity, air pressure, temperature, and the number of users per period, which will help cities innovate further by providing relevant data to them. The bench also features advertising space on its sides and on its wifi portal “gateway”, allowing cities to earn back a portion of ad or sponsorship revenue . And for citizens, the bench supplies USB and wireless charging and can provide 3G data wifi access. Resiliency and convenient phone charging are critical to today’s citizens and city visitors.
Incentivizing Clean Energy
Other solutions exist to help cities become future-ready. Cities can democratize and incentivize clean energy. Instead of penalizing households with solar panels, allow tax deductions. Let people generate and use their own clean energy. Placing solar panels on the roof of a home will enable citizens to control their energy usage and reduce their own environmental footprint. Offer tax credits to sustainable companies in the city – this can create green jobs and change communities. By allowing citizens to have more control, cities will begin to have clean energy infrastructure sooner than later. Becoming a future-ready city is not an easy feat. It requires a commitment to innovation, partnerships, and a constant flow of information between a government and its citizens. But creating clean energy infrastructure doesn’t have to be complicated. Several new business models can support clean energy, even in challenging urban environments, and incentivizing citizens to make changes in their own lives can go a long way. Every city in North America has the capabilities to be future-ready. It’s just a matter of getting started.
Interested in learning more about smart cities and how iSun can help develop smart cities through renewable energy and green technology? Get in touch today!