Automation and Smart Cities: Opportunity or Threat?

Automation and Smart Cities: Opportunity or Threat?
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Automation and Smart Cities: Opportunity or Threat?

Globally, policy makers are thinking about new urban concepts every day. Partly out of necessity; as traffic congestion, pollution and smog are seriously endangering living conditions and public health. And partly because state-of-the- art technological developments like the Internet of Things and Big Data analysis are providing new opportunities. These new urban concepts are commonly referred to as Smart Cities.

A Smart City is a city where information technology and the Internet of Things are used to manage and control the city. This includes both their administration and the management of facilities such as libraries, hospitals and utilities and, most importantly, the public transportation system.

Different sectors have been working on the Smart City concept in recent years – first and foremost the transport and traffic sector. But local government, health care, dirt management, water management and energy markets are also developing online services and applications that should help to realize a Smart City: A city that is cleaner, safer, more accessible and more attractive to citizens and businesses.

Smart Cities, Smart Mobility

From the perspective of urban planning for Smart Cities, automated cars are a transformational development that (1) will reduce the number of cars in cities, (2) free up urban space currently used for parking and (3) improve overall sustainability, while at the same time (4) reducing the number of incidents, accidents, injuries and casualties. It’s therefore no exaggeration to say that driverless cars have become the default association of Smart Mobility.

However, it is highly questionable whether the above-mentioned benefits arise from driverless cars directly. This starts first and foremost with identifying which advantages are associated with automation and which aren’t. In the following sections, we will look critically at these identified and presumed benefits.

Presumed Benefits

  • Reducing cars and car movements
  • Freeing up parking space
  • Reducing exhaust emissions and energy consumption
  • Reducing the number of incidents, accidents, injuries and casualties

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