South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has a vision to build the country’s first interconnected smart city in Lanseria, Gauteng. A smart city is one that leverages technology to increase efficiencies and improve the quality of services and life for its residents. Will this be the future of living in South Africa and other countries, or is the president’s dream unattainable for the time being?
Smart cities rely on data and technology to improve the lives of those who work and live in them. It is an idea that already exists in Europe and parts of America, but can also be realised in Africa if the right development and infrastructure partners are selected. If so, a smart city could be established in South Africa within the next decade.
How technology is changing cities
Traffic congestion is a major problem in most cities, especially in South Africa. With the technologies of a smart city, promising solutions can be made for traffic flow and automated diversion. Public transport routes can be improved in real-time according to demand and intelligent traffic light systems which will minimise congestion.
One of the requirements for a functioning smart city is accessibility to the internet and connectivity. This is one of the biggest challenges for South Africa as data is hugely expensive and the majority of citizens do not have access to high quality fibre internet. The first step would be for local municipalities to offer free WiFi services in public areas, which has already been implemented in Johannesburg and Tshwane.
Smart cities also need to invest in clean energy sources and technology can be used to monitor real-time consumption of electricity. These green alternatives include solar, wind and hydroelectric power, which will reduce the city’s reliance on coal power stations. In addition, the widespread use of WiFi connectivity and CCTV cameras, smart cities can improve citizen safety in South Africa, reduce crime and boost incident response time.
Connectivity infrastructure remains the arterial system for the future of living and smart cities in South Africa. The right ICT specialists, who share the same dream as the president, must be chosen to develop and implement infrastructures for smart cities. Improved connectivity and technology is the biggest step to improving the lives of all South Africans.
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