Transforming a city into a smart city means more than just installing sensors and software. It’s about using technology and data to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).
The report, Smart cities: Digital solutions for a more livable future, analyses how smart-city applications can improve multiple aspects of quality of life in cities, including safety, time and convenience, health, environmental quality, social connectedness and civic participation, jobs, and the cost of living.
By 2025, cities that deploy smart mobility applications have the potential to cut commuting times by 15-20% on average, the report suggests. In a dense city with an extensive transit system, smart technologies could save the average commuter almost 15 minutes a day, while in a developing city the improvement might be 20 to 30 minutes every day.
At the same time, intelligent syncing of traffic signals has the potential to reduce average commutes by more than 5% in developing cities where most people travel by bus.
Smart-city applications can also help cities fight crime and improve other aspects of public safety. One example is real-time crime mapping, which utilises statistical analysis to highlight patterns. Meanwhile, first responders can reach the scene of emergencies faster thanks to smart systems optimising call centres and traffic-signal pre-emption giving emergency vehicles a clear driving path.
Remote patient-monitoring systems have the potential to reduce the health burden in high-income cities by more than 4% by helping to prevent, treat and monitor chronic conditions.
And smart cities can deliver a cleaner and more sustainable environment, with air-quality sensors identifying sources of pollution and digital applications such as building-automation systems and dynamic electricity pricing combining to cut emissions by 10-15%.