Our cities struggle every day to reduce all sorts of pollution suffered by the citizens and to ultimately become greener, healthier, providing a better quality of life.
Environmental pollution is a growing societal concern. As much as some voices try to divert attention or marginalize the impact of the problem, we are fast approaching a point of no return. The date that experts agree on as the limit is 2030.
In its annual Sustainable Cities Index, Dutch Design & Consultancy firm Arcadis contemplates the United Nations criteria for sustainability and establishes a ranking of the best cities in the world, taking into account the following parameters:
- Energy use and generation
- Emission of greenhouse gases
- Green spaces
- Air quality
- Provision of bicycle lanes
- Measures to encourage the use of electric cars
- Control and monitoring of environmental disasters
- Waste management
According to Arcadis’ 2018 Sustainable Cities Index, these are some of the cities that are most environmentally friendly, thanks to their investment in sustainable infrastructure, low emissions and good air quality:
Ranking #5, Vienna is internationally known for one of the best public transport networks. The city received the 2017 European Mobility Week Award for larger municipalities for its commitment to clean, shared and intelligent mobility.
With the help of its municipal energy and infrastructure company Stadtwerke München (SWM), the City of Munich – scoring #7 in Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Ranking – is at the forefront of climate and environmental protection. Electricity requirements of Munich households are already covered exclusively from renewable energy sources, by 2025 this should be possible for the entire city, including commerce and industry. In addition, SWM wants to supply all Munich’s demand for district heating in a CO2-neutral manner, primarily using geothermal energy, by 2040.
Ranking #8 in the Sustainable Cities Index, the European Commission has awarded Oslo the title of ‘European Green Capital 2019’. The city’s goal is to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2020 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. To achieve this, the city has introduced a series of measures including promoting environmentally friendly transport. With Norway’s fully electric car sales at 31% in 2018 and at an astounding 58% of all car sales in March 2019, Oslo has become the electric vehicle capital of the world.
Main challenges for the cities of the future
These cities are great examples of how we are on the right track. However, there is still lots to do in the face of accelerating ecosystem dynamics:
- 5 billion people will live in cities by 2030
- 194,000 TWh of global energy demand in 2030, 25% more than in 2012
- 2.5 billion vehicles on the roads by 2050, 100% more compared to 2015
Looking forward, what models are there of a truly sustainable city, what tools and technologies will help us achieve sustainable urban development?
Digitization and interconnectivity can reduce a building’s ecological footprint by up to 80%.
But that’s only one element of a smart city. Reliable energy supply, intermodal mobility, energy-efficient buildings, safety and security: the requirements for a modern and sustainable infrastructure are growing. Digitization enables the implementation of innovative solutions that make urban areas better places to live.
Expo 2020 Dubai set to be a blueprint for future smart cities
To highlight the power of digitization, Expo 2020 Dubai will be one of the largest exhibitions of a connected and sustainable city. From 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021, Dubai will be host to a showcase of 190 countries and regions guided by the theme “Connecting minds, creating the future”.
As Premier Partner for Infrastructure Digitalization, Siemens will connect, monitor and control buildings and other assets across the more than 40 hectare site. All of this will be supported by the open, cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) operating system MindSphere, which will drive data collection, correlation and analysis for intelligent decision-making and action.
As the backbone that connects systems and pulls data together, IoT will be a critical component for future smart cities.
With more than 25 million visits expected, Expo 2020 Dubai will be the largest event ever held in the Arab world, and as such will not only face the challenges of a mega event, but also those of a smart city.
80% of the site will remain in legacy. With state-of-the-art technology implemented, IoT solutions will help create – and operate – this blueprint for future smart cities.