Cities are expected to be home to two-thirds of the world’s population by 2050, according to the United Nations1. As the population expands so does the imperative to make sure that urban infrastructure and services can accommodate growth. Cities are adopting innovative technology to meet rising demands on public services and infrastructure, as well as to address urban challenges related to the environment, national security, and public health, among others.
Information and communications technology advances of the 1990s gave rise to the smart city, or a city that continuously enhances quality of life for its residents, providing efficient and effective services, using technology and data. Today’s technology—including cloud services and the Internet of Things (IoT)—promises to unleash a new wave of innovation and transform cities into economic hubs that serve as safe and healthy homes for their residents. It offers solutions not just to economic and logistical challenges but also to social and environmental issues plaguing cities around the world, including public health crises and natural disasters.
Data, and the technology used to collect it and turn it into insights, are a means to an end: to better serve residents. Cloud technology offers a reliable infrastructure to administer services. The cloud provides data privacy and allows leaders to focus their time and resources on innovating for their residents. And even though cloud technology helps optimize resource allocation and improve decision-making, the process of transforming cities requires the leadership and active participation of citizens.
This paper examines how cities are using cloud technology to address public challenges with the framework of the Smart Cities Council global coalition. This framework promotes three core values for smart cities: livability, providing clean, healthy living conditions without pollution and congestion; workability, providing an enabling infrastructure (energy, transportation, internet connectivity) and high-quality jobs; and sustainability, doing so at no cost to future generations, as the Council puts it. This paper proposes a fourth core value, inclusivity: provisioning services to all city residents regardless of their background.