Today, 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and that number is expected to grow to 68 percent by 2050, according to estimates from the United Nations. Projections show that continued urbanization — or the gradual shift from rural to urban areas — combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050.
At the heart of this growth are megacities — or cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. By 2030, our world will be home to as many as 43 megacities, up from just 10 in 1990. This explosive urban population growth is just one of the reasons why cities must put innovative strategies and technologies to work to adapt to the new pressures and rising expectations that come with population growth.
There is good news on this front. From health, transportation, housing, safety, security, education and environment to culture and tourism, today’s public safety and city leaders have an historic opportunity to harness digital technologies to improve public safety and quality of life for urban residents. This is a key takeaway message from a new eBook from Dell Technologies and Intel, “Smarter, Safer Cities: Improving Public Safety in the age of AI and IoT.” As the title suggests, this eBook focuses on ways in which city managers and public safety leaders can put innovative technologies to work to make our cities smarter and safer, and our lives better.
The eBook notes that the Information Age is changing city life in ways that rival the changes that came 150 years ago with the Age of Industrialization. In this new era, an emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists and companies are joining forces to create Smart Cities — communities that are building the infrastructure necessary to continuously improve the collection, aggregation and use of data to improve the lives of their residents.
Multiple trends are coming together to empower Smart Cities. These include the growing data revolution, the proliferation of low-cost sensors and other Edge and IoT devices, and advances in information and communication technologies, artificial intelligence, computer vision and related technologies. Together, these forces for change are enabling cities to modernize infrastructure and lay the groundwork for smarter, safer cities.
Let’s consider a few examples called out in the eBook.
- In the event of an emergency in a Smart City, video cameras and sensors provide detailed information to public safety officials so that they can assess the situation more effectively and respond faster.
- An intelligent system triggers emergency response actions, including deploying first responders, medical teams, and firefighters to the precise location of the emergency.
- Ambulances move freely through the city, connected to a network integrated with traffic signals and communicating with hospital staff while they are on the go.
As those examples show, Smart Cities bring together solutions that improve emergency preparedness and provide first responders and law enforcement with greater situational awareness, while enhancing the quality of life for urban residents.
Ultimately, making our cities smarter means equipping them with the tools and technologies to address the problems that residents care most about. People want to feel safe and secure as they live, work, play, socialize and raise their families. And they want the opportunities that come with smarter, safer cities — cities that attract businesses, foster innovation and create the stability necessary for sustained growth.
That’s the big vision. What we now need is a shared commitment to move forward with the strategies and digital solutions that create smarter, safer cities.
To learn more
For the full story, see the eBook, “Smarter, Safer Cities: Improving Public Safety in the age of AI and IoT.” For a graphically oriented look at the case for Edge and IoT solutions in digital cities, take a look at the Dell Technologies “Defining the Digital Future of our Cities” infographic and for additional information, visit: DellTechnologies.com/IoT.
Kirsten Billhardt is the Director of Edge and IoT at Dell Technologies.
 United Nations news release, “68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN,” May 16, 2018.
 United Nations. “World Urbanization Prospects 2018.” May 16, 2018.