In democracies people believe in the free flow of information and open discussion. In economic matters, both the academic and politicians play a role in determining how people should be governed to give them an economy that would take care of their needs.
With more and more people migrating to cities in search of living and enjoy modern conveniences, urbanisation has become a hot topic. The focus is on higher productivity by way of efficient manufacturing, better land use, good infrastructure and use of technology to introduce in smart living.
Politicians and academics agree that cities get work better because of optimum use of traditional inputs of land, labour and energy. Cities use enormous amounts of energy and it is important that to improve the living standards and competitiveness, urban productivity needs to be stepped up.
It is important to measure the productivity of cities, which should strive to achieve agglomeration economies through the clustering of activities, labour pooling and knowledge spill-overs. Here the deployment of smart technologies is important.
Take transport. There are significant cost savings in increasing the ridership of mass transit systems compared with constructing expensive new systems. Even small-scale policy changes have great impact. Improving traffic light sequencing, for example, reduces travel times, emissions, fuel consumption and road accidents.
The city’s transportation system can make a city as a whole – and thus the economy – more productive through technological upgrading.
Encouraging telecommuting, while reducing the benefits of face-to-face contact in real time, generates savings in terms of time and energy costs as well as the wear and tear on commuters slogging their way through traffic. The collective gain is a more efficient city and greater economic productivity.
Also, a single government authority in a large city is more efficient than a multiplicity of municipal governments. One study of cities across five countries found that a metro region with many municipal governments has, on average, six per cent lower productivity than a city with one metropolitan authority.
Cities are a target-rich environment for improving productivity because they are places where public policies have leverage. Improving urban efficiencies has the added benefit of improving sustainability.
An efficient land use and transportation system means people spend less time and money commuting. It contributes to productivity and curbs wastage.
Internet of Things will provide a mine of data and its analysis will provide benchmarks of performance. It improves infrastructure. And once urban productivity is measured, it can be improved.
Smart Cities thus will enhance productivity and quality of urban life.