The future is here and it’s looking smart.
As more and more cities adopt new technology designed to improve efficiency and communication, there will undoubtedly be an impact on the workplace.
Keep reading to learn what this looks like, in Australia and abroad.
What are Smart Cities?
Smart cities bring infrastructure and technology together to improve the quality of life of its citizens, and enhance their interactions with the urban environment.
But what does this mean, exactly?
You most likely have heard of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – the term used to describe the interconnectivity of all your devices, whether it’s your smartphone, car, air conditioning, even your washing machine. By making more technology capable of communicating across platforms, the IoT generates more data that can help improve various aspects of daily life.
Smart cities follow this same principle, but on a larger scale. Through various data channels, they can identify both opportunities and challenges in real-time, allocating resources more accurately, which in turn reduces costs and maximises impact.
Efficient. Flexible. Smart.
The key benefit of smart cities is simple: less manual labour.
The more automated our cities become, the more time we have to spend on other things, whether that means more free time or more time to innovate – or both.
Some of the ways their impact can already be seen include the following:
According to Safe Work Australia, between 2017 and 2018 there were 107,335 serious workers’ compensation claims, including 144 fatalities.1,2 What this suggests is that, despite tightening health and safety regulations in Australia, workers still face risks every day, particularly in the construction, agricultural, transport and warehousing industries.
While technology cannot combat all of the causes for workplace injuries, it can help to reduce the number. There were 8,570 vehicle-related injuries, for example, which contributed to 8% of workers’ compensation claims.1 As smart cities continue to be developed, advances in new technologies such as semi-autonomous cars may be able to play a part in reducing road congestion and accidents in the future.
Smart cities are clean cities. A report published in 2016 by the International Renewable Energy Agency noted that cities account for 65% of global energy use and 70% of manmade carbon emissions.3 This makes optimising energy consumption a fundamental objective.
Renewable energy, such as solar power and wind turbines, is key to reducing the carbon emissions of a city, and with the right technology, data can be stored and communicated to determine the best way forward to improve energy efficiency.
People commute to and from work at the busiest and most expensive times of the day. Whether it’s by car, taxi or Uber, or public transport – the roads are congested during peak hour, no matter the city. Smart cities, however, have the power to change this.
Digital collaboration between road networks, parking spaces, buses, trains and GPS systems in private cars can lead to less congestion, fewer accidents and therefore better conditions for road users. This ultimately leads to increased productivity – for people getting to work, but also for couriers and emergency services.
The World’s Smartest Cities
Many cities across the globe have already started implementing IoT-based infrastructure, with some already being referred to as smart cities. In Amsterdam, traffic flow, energy usage and public safety are monitored and adjusted based on real-time data. In the US, major cities like Boston and Baltimore have deployed smart trash cans that relay how full they are, before determining the most efficient pick-up route.
Closer to home, Metro Trains in Melbourne have already implemented rail temperature monitoring in real-time on different sections of the tracks. This allows train drivers to adjust speed as required, rather than Metro setting an overall restriction on high temperature days.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The top two smartest cities in the world – Singapore and Dubai – are noted for their innovation and adoption of disruptive next-gen technologies. Singapore is pioneering several projects to address high-density urban living, and is also home to futuristic driverless taxis and shuttles, while Dubai is leading the way when it comes to crypto technology, with all government transactions set to be processed via blockchain by 2030.
How Do Smart Cities Impact Office Design?
The IoT has already seen an increase in productivity for businesses of all sizes. Insights from the data gathered about our use of office spaces and of IT systems have allowed us to better support the needs of employees.
Smart cities will do the same – although at a significantly larger scale, integrating the community at large into the process.
Some of the biggest changes in the office will include:
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Employees are already starting to use their own personal devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops – even wearable tech – to complete work-related tasks and send communication.
This trend will likely continue as smart cities become more commonplace, allowing employees to interact with their surroundings whether they’re on or off the clock.
All of this connectivity is starting to lead to an ‘always working, always available’ mentality. Employers are now recognising the dangers of overworking, prioritising wellness programs to support their people and promote a healthier work-life-balance.
Tech is helping with this. Wearable devices that monitor steps, heart rate and calorie consumption are helping employees take control of their health and practice better wellness habits. Some offices are even syncing everyone’s data, so they can analyse and identify any potential health risks in their workplace.
As more and more data is stored in the cloud, the need for advanced cyber security becomes more prominent. Without the right systems and protocols in place, companies risk losing or leaking a lot of sensitive information. Many businesses are now implementing Managed IT Services, including managed firewalls, managed Wi-Fi and endpoint protection for cyber security.
As technology advances, and smart cities become more prominent, the security measures will likely become even more advanced, with some organisations in the US already using biometric authentication to protect data.
As mentioned, Melbourne has already started implementing smart technology for its public transport network. Sydney has developed a plan that will create 200,000 new jobs and turn it into a smart city by 2036.
And then there’s Adelaide – some would say an unlikely candidate for a smart city, but with a population of about 1 million, it’s perfectly sized and situated to begin testing and rolling out new smart city initiatives.
People walking or riding alone at night will soon be able to order a drone to shine a light on the path ahead and monitor their safe passage home. Street lights will only switch on when they detect people, and traffic movements will be digitally controlled to avoid congestion in self-driving electric cars and buses. And even more futuristic, tests will be conducted with people prepared to embed a short-distance smart chip under their skin, so keys and passwords are no longer necessary.
The Importance of Sky-Speed Internet
Of course, all of this sounds exciting and futuristic. But one fundamental aspect of this interconnected living is high-speed Internet. Without a reliable, symmetrical Internet connection to support the above infrastructure, a lot of the above services won’t be viable.
That’s why at Spirit we’re making the impossible possible. Our super-fast Sky-Speed Internet, combined with our Managed IT Services, offers the type of connection that businesses need to operate efficiently, and integrate with smart cities.
To learn more about the technology we use, and to get a free consultation for your business, leave us your details and one of our specialists will be in touch ASAP.