How smart cities come about

    According to the UN , for 2018, 55.3% of the world's population live in cities. By 2030, 60% of people around the world will live in cities with a population of at least 0.5 million people. A 5% increase over 12 years is evidence of the ongoing process of urbanization. Therefore, it is now important to understand how to make cities safe and ensure their sustainable development.

    In the past, I wrote about the “rust belt” and single-industry towns , as well as successful cases of urban development institutes.. Today we’ll talk about how technologies help make cities safe and ensure their sustainable development, how “smart cities” arise, where ideas are taken for them and how projects are implemented. Consider these issues on the example of Chicago and Barcelona, ​​talk about various formats for working with residents - the “open government”, competitions and hackathons, and other initiatives aimed at urban development.

    A moment of theory: the evolution of cities

    Cities account for 80% of gross domestic product due to lower transaction costs. That is, in cities the costs are lower, which do not relate to the production of products, but to the indirect costs associated with this - the collection and search of information necessary for the activity, the conclusion of transactions, contracts and so on. The second component of the success of the city is the concentration of quality human capital. Therefore, cities are the drivers of the development of the global economy.

    In the process of development, the city goes through several stages of evolution:

    • City 1.0 is an industrial city in which industry is developed, large enterprises are located.
    • Cities 2.0 - the city is moving more to the service sector and the development of small medium-sized businesses.
    • City 3.0 is a post-industrial city that is a center of education, technology and knowledge.

    In the process of evolution, problems can arise. For example, production in a city leads to environmental degradation. Later, during the transition to the service sector and the development of small and medium-sized businesses, a “rust belt” may remain - unused production areas that impede movement in the city and efficient use of space. But these problems simultaneously open up various opportunities for improving the city.

    Chicago - the city of winds

    Chicago is today one of the most populated cities in the United States: 2.7 million people live in it, and the agglomeration has more than 9 million inhabitants.

    It is worth taking a look at the history of this city to understand how it developed and how it influenced the cities of the whole world.

    One of the factors in the development of Chicago is its location. In 1674, a missionary post for wintering was organized on the site of the future city, which by 1833 had turned into a village with 350 inhabitants, and only four years later it received city status. In 1840, 4 thousand people lived here.

    The location between the west and east of the country made Chicago become one of the key transportation hubs in the USA. Trade was facilitated by the railroad and the opening of the Michigan Canal. The city traded in grain and meat; in the 1960s, an exchange opened in itwhere they traded futures for frozen pork and cattle, and later on agricultural products and world currencies. The city became not only a commercial, but also an industrial center - in the early 1960s metallurgical and woodworking plants appeared here.

    The appearance of Chicago was affected by the tragedy - the Great Fire of Chicago, which in 1871 claimed the lives of several hundred people and destroyed most of the city - buildings on an area of ​​about 8 square kilometers. The need to build up this city again and the support of people from all over the country who helped with money, clothes, furniture and food, made Chicago one of the most interesting cities in terms of architecture.

    The best architects from around the world were called into the city after the fire. The first skyscraper in the world was built in Chicago in 1885- 42-meter building Home Insurance Building, in the construction of which a steel frame is used. The city overtook New York, where there was already a 40-meter building that did not have such a frame and, accordingly, did not belong to skyscrapers. And the city continued to grow “up” and in the next century - 1973 built Willis Tower, a 108-story skyscraper, which for almost 25 years was the tallest building in the world.

    Home Insurance Building

    Another event that has stimulated development is the 1893 World's Fair. By that time, more than a million people lived in the city, and the exhibition received 27 million visitors in six months.

    This exhibition once again shows how various events can affect the development of cities. The Westinghouse company that Nikola Tesla worked with has won a tender to cover the World's Fair. The project was another step towards electric street lighting, which today became commonplace for us, and then it was something completely new, advanced. The exhibition town in Chicago was ahead of any other American city in the number of lanterns.

    Electric Lighting at Chicago's 1893 World's Fair

    With what did the city eventually enter the 21st century?

    From 2000 to 2010, he lost 7.1% of jobs - this is the worst result among the ten largest cities in the United States. The city budget deficit reached $ 600 million. The city budget deficit in 2011 amounted to $ 720 million , and half of the students did not finish their studies. Crime was growing again. And there was no one to fight with it - the city police had 2,000 open vacancies.

    At the same time, the city remained one of the important transport hubs in North America, it has two major airports and a railway hub. And it had 2.7 million inhabitants - and people are the main value in the era of digital transformation.

    The transformation into a “smart city” began with the Transition Plan issued by Mayor Emanuel Ram, elected in 2011. In 2012 he publisheda decree on open data in the city in which such posts in city authorities as Chief data officer and Chief information officer were registered, and such definitions as City of Chicago data portal and Data. According to the decree, the city organized DOIT - Department of Innovation and Technology , which became the central organization for ensuring the introduction of innovations.

    The Smart city initiative in Chicago was aimed at identifying and resolving city problems. It is important that the use of new technologies and the involvement of residents in these processes. The goal was to create a “platform city”, a flexible and changeable ecosystem, which allows introducing new solutions and launching new projects. And for this, the city began to work in three directions.


    The 21st century is the time of high-speed Internet. With the help of the Broadband project , the digital infrastructure has been updated. Universities and organizations, parks and public places were equipped with Internet access, the availability of Internet services in residential areas of the city increased.

    But the Internet will not help if you do not have computer skills. The Sustainable Broadband Adoption program was dedicated to solving this issue : computer centers in 5 disadvantaged areas can train 11,000 residents of the city and employees of 500 small enterprises.

    One of the digital skills training centers in Chicago

    Economic development

    The "open data", around which the Smart city initiative in Chicago was built from the very beginning, is also needed in order to deploy new businesses and applications on the existing platform. It turns out something like a marketplace, but on a citywide scale.

    To provide access to data, several projects were launched in Chicago. The Chicago Hearth Atlas site aggregates data from medical organizations in the city, the results of surveys and studies to better understand the health status of city residents. For example, here you can find out the race, gender, number of people who have been vaccinated against HPV. OpenGrid

    Geolocation Platformcollects real-time data from city services. Here you can find out about opening companies, requests from residents to municipal services - for example, where graffiti is painted over or where animal pests are found. This platform allowed us to optimize the interaction between services.

    What matters is not the data, but how it is used. As part of the Illinois Open Technology Challenge , new tools were developed to solve problems. The goal of the program is to involve the authorities, local universities, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs in the development of the city.

    Involvement of residents

    The prerequisites for this step were laid before the election of Rama. In 2007, a report was submitted by The City that NetWorks: Transforming Society and Economy Through Digital Excellence . It contained recommendations for the development of the city. Among them is the search for leaders who can organize a partnership between residents and authorities for the effective implementation of digital opportunities. This idea was embodied in the initiative Smart Chicago Collaborative , which is now called City Tech .

    To educate residents in digital competencies, Digital Skills and Connect Chicago have launched projects in the city. They coordinate educational processes and provide a network of computer-equipped places where residents can access the Internet and a computer and receive free training.

    City Technologies

    None of the technologies that are used in Chicago are critical. And while many of them could be implemented separately from others. But the main value of the “platform city” is the ability to quickly implement them. Therefore, the City Tech initiative has declared the city a “cradle” for new solutions and is now ready to help other cities in development.

    Chicago was the first city to launch Array of Things ("an array of things"). The project is called a "fitness tracker" for the city. Devices mounted on lampposts collect informationabout air purity, climate, traffic - automobile, bicycle and pedestrian, atmospheric pressure, sounds. The project was developed jointly by the University of Chicago, the Argonne National Laboratory and the city authorities - all in order to better understand, maintain and improve Chicago.

    This is an interesting example of cooperation between universities, the city and business: the project’s communication partner is AT&T, and technology support is provided by Cisco, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, Intel, Motorola Solutions and Zebra Technologies. Also part of the project was to attract residents of the city - a number of local events were held in which the townspeople talked about their problems, and teachers were taught the Internet of things to share this experience with schoolchildren.

    The city uses predictive analytics to control pests. The system predicts where the garbage containers will be full. According to city ​​authorities, the effectiveness of the fight against rats increased by 20%. Sensors mounted on bridges inform services about freezing. Sensors also measure the pollution of Lake Michigan.

    In order to save citizens from parking problems, they launched the ParqEx project in the city . Owners of real estate - both shopping centers or offices, and private houses - add available parking spaces to the service, and car owners - book them. It turns out something like Airbnb for cars.

    To ensure security throughout the city, cameras are located that find crowds. In the command center for live broadcasts from cameras, they determine whether to send police officers to the place.

    Chicago Police Command Post Chicago Smart Lighting Lighting

    Modernization Project involves replacing 270,000 obsolete lamps with modern LEDs. According to Mayor Emanuel Ram, this project will simultaneously become the largest in terms of modernization of lighting in the country and will solve the main reason why citizens call the city number for non-emergency issues. Such lighting will save the city 17.8 million kWh, this electricity is enough for 1990 houses. Chicago street after installing smart lighting


    Since 2006, the Spanish city of Barcelona has been holding one of the largest exhibitions of the mobile industry - Mobile World Congress. This city is the largest industrial and commercial center of Spain. Its population is over 1.6 million people. Barcelona is the second most populated city in Spain after Madrid and the tenth in the European Union.

    The history of Barcelona has more than two thousand years, and in it many episodes are associated with the cultural development of the city. The volume of this text is not enough for a detailed description, so let's start with the second industrial revolution.

    Barcelona is one of the first areas of continental Europe in which industrialization began. By the middle of the 19th century, a city with a population had become an important center of the textile industry and mechanical engineering.

    In 1888, the World Exhibition was held in Barcelona. She was visited by 2.3 million people. Thanks to the event, many new infrastructure facilities appeared in the cities: parks were opened, Columbus Avenue was laid, a 4-storey hotel was built in 53 days for 4,000 seats in the port (although it was demolished after the exhibition), until 1942 the Palace of Fine Arts was built for the exhibition exhibitions and concerts, the Citadel Park appeared on the site of the ruined fortress, which operates today. The city was the first street electric lighting. This exhibition is considered successful in the field of economic development of the city.

    In 1929, the World Exhibition was held in Barcelona again, the site occupied 118 hectares, 20 countries took part in it. The exposition has become a testing ground for new architectural styles.

    1888 Barcelona World Exhibition

    In 1992, Barcelona hosted the 25th Summer Olympic Games , which also influenced the city’s appearance. During preparation, the city got rid of the "rust belt" , the legacy of the industrial revolution - the old port, industrial zone and railway line. The city equipped beaches with a total area of ​​18 hectares, built a walking boulevard, buildings to accommodate guests, as well as many entertainment facilities.

    Mary Ellen Clark against the backdrop of Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics

    Baggage of the past in the 21st century

    Now it is a city with a port on the Mediterranean Sea 120 km from the border of France, the largest industrial and commercial center of Spain, attracting many tourists. Here are the car assembly plants of SEAT, Renault, Peugeot, Ford. Redevelopment in preparation for the Olympic Games helped the city, but building objects is not enough - you need to use them wisely. In addition, you need to work with the residents of the city as efficiently as possible and attract new employers to solve the problem of unemployment.

    In 2000, Barcelona City Council launched the 22 @ - Innovation District project. They decided to make one of the districts a center of knowledge. Over the course of ten years, the population of this region has grown by 23%. By 2010, 90 thousand people in 7 thousand companies were already working in the innovation district. Authorities were involved in attracting 22 @ companies in several clusters: media, energy, IT, biomedicine and design. Among the companies operating this quarter, Amazon - it has set up a small and medium business service office for companies from Italy and France.

    In 2012, the elected mayor Xavier Trias decided to concentrate all his initiatives in the field of smart city in one strategy. After that, several new services were launched in the city. Urban Habitats is responsible for the development planning of Barcelona and resolves issues with resources - energy, water, human resources, as well as environmental issues. The Smart City PMO team is responsible for the Smart City projects .

    In 2013, the task was set at the level of authorities to make Barcelona the first real “smart city” in the country, which would be as autonomous as possible and have zero emissions. To achieve this, the city must work with the infrastructure, solve economic issues, maximize the involvement of the best talents and communities, and take care of the environment. All projects in the field of “smart city” in Barcelona can be divided into end-to-end and vertical.

    It is worth noting that by 2014 the city created 47 thousand new jobs for the implementation of the initiatives of the “smart city”. Every year he saves 42.5 million euros on the efficient use of water and earns 36.5 million euros on smart parking.

    Cross-cutting projects

    Cross-cutting projects are projects that affect the whole city. Thanks to them, he is developing. One of the important steps was updating the telecommunications infrastructure. The communication speed in the city was increased, Wi-Fi was equipped in public places, and all sensors were combined on the Urban Platform.

    As in Chicago, which collects data from utilities and other services on one site, and all health information on another, Barcelona collects data sets in various directions on Open Data BCN. Here you can learn a lot about the population of the city, about administrative resources, about the territory. For example, you can find out where new bicycle stations open, learn about cleanliness in the city and how and where cars are parked. This open data can be used to create new services and solutions.

    Vertical projects

    Vertical projects include solving specific issues. For example, in the city they introduced a new “smart” lighting, installed charges for electric vehicles, work with “smart” parking, and simplified the receipt of public services by the population. Since Barcelona attracts many tourists every year, a special application was made for them in the city.

    Smart Barcelona Technology

    The city helps to formulate urgent problems and implement initiatives of the Advisory Council of Citizens of the Barcelona City Office on transparency and best practices in the use of technology. The Xnet activist organization, as part of this council, launched a Tor-based anti-corruption platform in Barcelona in 2017 . With its help, city residents can write anonymous complaints without the threat of the fact that data about them themselves will go somewhere.

    The goal of the DECODE project , which started in 2017 in Barcelona and Amsterdam, is to give people the opportunity to control their own personal data that they create, use and store in the process of working on the network.

    One of the key initiatives in the “smart city” area is smart lighting . Firstly, the city uses LED lights, which need less energy than traditional lamps. Secondly, the lamps are equipped with sensors that measure environmental data - temperature, air pollution, noise, people. The lamps are connected to the central unit on this street, which is responsible not only for lighting, but also for other services - for example, Wi-Fi, optical fiber stretched in houses, or for a charging station for electric vehicles. All data is transmitted to the central control center, it allows you to track what is happening anywhere in the city.

    Lighting varies with the time of day and the availability of people. Thanks to this approach, the city saves $ 37 million per year .

    In order to make tourists feel comfortable in the city, Barcelona has launched a number of applications . These are audio guides, guides, an app with the best restaurants in the city and the Official Barcelona Guide.

    The same approach to citizens. They have the Points of Interest app for identifying places of interest nearby, Map Barcelona + Sustainable, which shows the city’s environmental initiatives, Apparkb for finding legitimate parking spots.

    Smart cities in Russia

    National projects of Russia, including Digital Economy and E-Government , involve the use of modern technologies to ensure transparency in government activities and convenient access to services for citizens. Simply put, everything is aimed at improving the quality of life.

    The changes in recent years have been noticeable. Ten years ago, in order to receive documents on property inherited, one had to stand in line at the BTI from six in the morning, writing down his name in the notebook of the person who spent the night at this BTI. Now it will take much less time to solve such a problem. Moreover, most of it is solved online. The same thing, for example, with a tax deduction: you do not need to fill out any papers, just go to your personal account on and send an electronic application.

    In cities in 2007, multifunctional centers began to appear - the MFC. Various services are provided on a one-stop basis. They were renamed “My Documents” so as not to scare away citizens with a complex name. Similar projects are launched onto the cities “from above”, but there are other ways - when the city itself or individual companies solve problems in this area.
    So, for example, Yandex works with which you can find out the duration of the metro ride, the condition of traffic jams, or Tutu - these enthusiasts have done the impossible, allowing people across Russia to find out the train schedules.


    Moscow today is one of the most “smart” cities in the world. 5G networks are already piloted in the city . One of the first industries for this technology will be healthcare - it is about remote operations and telemedicine. Now the city has prepared the Strategy “Smart City - 2030” . Business communities joined in working with the strategy, and concrete proposals were collected to address various issues.

    Prior to this, a number of initiatives in the field of "open government" were implemented. The Our City portal is designed to send complaints about posting ads in the wrong places, uncleaned snowdrifts and other urban problems. For some time, officials tried to solve these problems using Photoshopbut after several high-profile cases it passed. 1.39 million people are registered on the portal. During the operation of the portal, he solved 3.2 million problems.

    The “Active Citizen” portal is designed to involve citizens in city management - it conducts surveys on various topics that relate to the development and improvement of the city. Now among the votes, for example, there is a question about new services for metro passengers. 2.2 million people are registered on the portal, at the moment he has conducted 3.9 thousand votes.

    The system of recording in the city clinics of Moscow Emias.infohelped reduce queues in clinics. Since 2013, doctors have signed up for more than 40 million times. The technology familiar to commercial clinics was thus applied to state-owned ones. In December 2014, the number of people who could not get to the district police officer today or tomorrow was more than 90 thousand. In 2017, this figure dropped to several thousand people.

    In Moscow, the system of public transport is actively developing - both underground and ground, including bus services. Buses in Moscow operate both urban and private, and, for a long time, this is not about simple minibuses, but about world-class transport for various needs. In Moscow, you can rent buses for organizing events, distributing employees, etc.

    The city occupies one of the leading Wi-Fi positions in the world. In 2016, the number of points with free Internet access within the Garden Ring reached 300 . Also, access to the network is in the subway and in public transport. The Wireless Broadband Alliance Association in 2015 recognized the Wi-Fi project in the Moscow metro as the best public network in the world . The Department of Information Technologies is responsible for the development and use of urban information systems and open government tools in Moscow.

    Nizhny Novgorod

    One of the “smart cities” should be Nizhny Novgorod. To catalyze this idea, it was decided to use the hackathon format. The city will be the first in Russia to host the Global City Hackaton, an initiative of one of the Councils of the World Economic Forum.

    First of all, with the help of city experts, a list of pressing social problems was formulated. Representatives of non-profit and public organizations divided into groups, put together a list and prioritized issues related to health and well-being of residents of the city, the economy and society, urban infrastructure and ecology, urban strategy and interaction with residents.

    The second session was aimed at selecting priority technologies for solving this list of tasks. It was attended by specialists from technology companies. Nothing supernatural for solving problems, as it turned out, is not needed.

    The next stage is the hackathon on April 19-21. Participants will receive a list of problems and a list of proposed technologies in order to then solve these problems. First of all, developers and IT entrepreneurs are waiting here .

    Are smart cities needed?

    The city needs to be comfortable for residents, competitive in order to attract and retain people. People become valuable for the city, not only telling the authorities and business about their needs, but also creating new urban products and services.

    Also, the city should attract entrepreneurs and companies that open up new jobs. So, Barcelona, ​​thanks to its policy of attracting innovative business, in 2016 reached a decrease in the number of unemployed in the city to 13.4%, while in Spain as a whole, on average at that time this figure was more than 20%. In the city, the number of entrepreneurs reached 7.54% , which is higher than the average European indicator of 6.9%.

    Business is able to help city administrations make life more convenient. For example, the EMIAS portal in Moscow is a commercial project, but it aggregated the possibility of recording in Moscow clinics on one site and through the application. Yandex. Traffic jams make the city “smarter”, even if they are not a government project.

    In the age of "high technology", one of the most effective solutions is smart lighting. Re-equipment of lampposts with modern lamps, as a rule, shows an instant effect on the city economy. This suggests that technologies for solving problems should not be fantastic - it is important to find new ways to use what is available to any city today.

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