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Communications of the ACM


The New Smart Cities


Chicago will be home to the Array of Things, a planned citywide installation of at least 500 sensor-packed boxes.

Credit: Alex Dibrova

More than half of the world's population currently lives in or around a city. By the year 2050, the United Nations projects another 2.5 billion people could be moving to metropolises. As urban populations increase, the number of data-generating sensors and Internet-connected devices will grow even faster. Experts say cities that capitalize on all the new urban data could become more efficient and more enjoyable places to live. The big question now is how to make that happen.

Until recently, this seemed to be as simple as choosing the right out-of-the-box smart city solution from a big multinational corporation. "The overhyped promises from the big technology companies have kind of blown away," says Anthony Townsend, Senior Research Scientist at New York University's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management. "Now you have city governments regrouping and developing comprehensive long-range visions of the role information technology will play in making their city better."


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