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Urban Planning and Smart City: The Future of Development

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As urban planning becomes an increasingly crucial discipline, cities emerge as the defining feature of human geography in the twenty-first century.

Every week, 1.3 million people move to cities around the world, including Malaysian cities, and by 2040, cities will be home to 65 per cent of the world’s population.

Simultaneously, the 600 largest cities already account for 60% of global GDP, a figure that will only increase as cities grow larger and wealthier. In reality, experts estimate that cities will account for up to 80% of future economic growth in developing regions.

A Necessary Step: Developing Smart Cities

Cities are becoming an even more important driver of the global economy and wealth. Thus, it’s more important than ever to design them for productivity and sustainability while also improving the quality of life in each urban cluster.

Hence, the importance of an urban town planning service.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is a framework for connecting, protecting, and improving city residents’ lives by leveraging the capabilities of emerging technology.

By using ICT and the Internet of Things, a smart city captures and analyzes data from different sources to feel the city’s environment, providing real-time information to help governments, enterprises, and residents make better and more knowledgeable choices to improve the overall quality of life.

Urban town planners in Malaysia are responsible for developing smart city pans.

Features of a Smart City

Smart cities fall under six main categories.

1. Infrastructure

One of the most critical technologies that will be introduced in city infrastructure is smart lighting. Although smart lighting can appear to be insignificant at first thought, it is important to remember that lighting consumes 19% of the world’s total electricity.

2. Buildings

Technology can monitor and optimize heating, energy consumption, lighting, and ventilation. Traditional building materials will be replaced by solar panels; which urban town planners will build into the design. Individual rooms have fire detection and extinguishing systems.

3. Utilities

On the utility side, smart grids (used for energy usage control and management), water leak detection, and water portability monitoring are only a few of the smart city features.

4. Transport

Intelligent, adaptive fast lanes and slow lanes (cycling, walking) will be implemented, while charging stations through the city will power electric vehicles.

Read MoreThe Benefits of Planning for Walkable Cities in Malaysia

5. Environment

Greener cities can be achieved by emissions reduction, clean energy, and waste management solutions. Rooftop gardens or side plants will be incorporated into building designs to help with insulation, provide oxygen, and absorb CO2.

6. Life

Wi-Fi will be available in the city for public use, and real-time alerts will warn people about traffic congestion, parking spaces, and other city amenities.

What role will smart cities play in meeting development targets and increasing energy efficiency?

Smart cities can advance the Sustainable Development Goals by 70%, resulting in a safer and more sustainable climate. Increased urbanisation, industrialisation, and consumption bring with them a slew of new environmental issues. 

Though technology is just one part of the solution to these problems, a McKinsey study found that “deploying a range of applications to the best reasonable degree could cut pollution by 10 to 15%, lower water consumption by 20 to 30%, and reduce the amount of solid waste per capita by 10 to 20%.”

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

According to McKinsey, building automation systems can reduce pollution by just under 3% in most commercial buildings and 3% in residential homes in cities where structures are a major source of emissions. 

Dynamic electric pricing, ride-hailing, and demand-based microtransit, intelligent traffic signals, and congestion pricing are other innovations that can have a major effect on pollution.

Air Quality

Although some of the above will improve air quality, air quality sensors are important to address this issue specifically. While this does not immediately solve pollution, it does allow for identifying the source, allowing for more informed decisions. 

Furthermore, exchanging real-time air quality data empowers the public to take preventive steps that can minimize negative health effects by three to fifteen percent, depending on pollution levels.

Water Conservation

In higher-income cities with high residential water use, combining water consumption monitoring technology with advanced metering and automated feedback messages will minimize consumption by 15%.

However, according to McKinsey, its efficacy is dependent on whether one uses it in conjunction with a pricing strategy. Leaky pipes are the most common source of water pollution in developing countries. The use of sensors and analytics will help to reduce loss by up to 25%.

Read More: Climate-Smart Cities in Malaysia: A Response to Climate Change

In a Nutshell

The growth of smart cities would result in a reduction in solid waste. With low-tech recycling hitting its limits, McKinsey notes that technology might help minimize the amount of non-recycled solid waste even further. 

Harnessing digital monitoring and payments is one example. However, one should consider them alongside other policy interventions, particularly in emerging economies with tight household budgets. An urban and city planning consultant is in the best position to offer solutions.


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